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Feb 28 2013

Nixon’s Bribe to Bork

A new memoir from Robert Bork is being published posthumously and it includes a story that certainly rings true, though it’s a good thing it never came true. Bork says that Richard Nixon offered him a spot on the Supreme Court if he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox (which he did).

Robert Bork says President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.

Bork’s recollection of his role in the Saturday Night Massacre that culminated in Cox’s firing is at the center of his slim memoir, “Saving Justice,” that is being published posthumously by Encounter Books. Bork died in December at age 85.

Bork writes that he didn’t know if Nixon actually, though mistakenly, believed he still had the political clout to get someone confirmed to the Supreme Court or was just trying to secure Bork’s continued loyalty as his administration crumbled in the Watergate scandal.

That makes a seedy story even worse.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Phillip IV

    his slim memoir, “Saving Justice,”

    I assume that title can only refer to the day he withdrew his nomination.

  2. 2
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    He thought himself a victim when he would have accepted a bribe to perform an act whose illegality was in dispute but which was so thoroughly and unquestionably corrupt that more than one man, with only minutes to think about it, chose to resign from high office – publicly offending their patron president in the process – rather than perform that act?

    The insufferable arrogance this displays in a man who would accept supreme court appointment as corrupt gift thinking himself a victim because he wasn’t confirmed to that court… I guess because he’d managed to keep his most seriously and immediately disqualifying acts hidden? …is repulsive. I didn’t like Bork’s politics nor did I like what I knew of his judicial theory of interpretation. I certainly didn’t like his participation in the Saturday Night Massacre (which I read about before I turned 10 by reading Sirica’s book – don’t ask me what a kid was doing reading about watergate instead of playing Intellivision: it was a different time).

    But that it wasn’t (only, one presumes) a yelling, intimidating POTUS but a frickin’ BRIBE that made him do this? This man had no business teaching law or judging any case, ever.

    I’ll have to read the passage, but I’m reluctant to believe that appointment to SCOTUS played no role in his thinking. It’s the kind of thing that creates appearance of impropriety even when no actual quid-pro-quo exists. A person of his intellect would know that, would know it was a risk to his standing and career if anyone discovered it. And so he publishes it posthumously? And this admission is supposed to make me think that really was a good guy because, after all, it became public by his own hand…after it could no longer hurt him?

    Wow.

  3. 3
    Raging Bee

    …his slim memoir, “Saving Justice,”…

    Bork gave that title to his own memoir? That’s as arrogant and insulting as it is hilarious.

  4. 4
    Ace of Sevens

    Did Reagan know about this when he tried to appoint Bork? It’s rather implausible that he didn’t?

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    I assume that title can only refer to the day he withdrew his nomination.

    …moreover, the fact that it’s very slim is suggestive.

    anything involving Bork “saving justice” would have to be very slim indeed, even with padding.

  6. 6
    Ichthyic

    Did Reagan know about this when he tried to appoint Bork?

    I’m sure he didn’t recall.

  7. 7
    pacal

    If this is true. although I can’t think of a reason why Bork would make up something like this which frankly does not make him look good, it is damning. The very fact that Nixon made such an offer / bribe to him would have been a strong encouragement to NOT do Nixon’s bidding and resign.

    I frankly am curious how Bork spins it in his book. I suspect he turns it into another example of his “poor me” persona and how victimized he was, and how those evil liberals wouldn’t “understand” it so he was “forced” to keep it a secret all those years.

  8. 8
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Bork says that Richard Nixon offered him a spot on the Supreme Court if he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox (which he did).

    Well, no, it doesn’t look like an actual offer of a bribe- at least, not an open quid pro quo as in- ‘You fire Cox and I’ll nominate you for the Court’.

    Robert Bork says President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.

    It seems to have been:
    ‘Fire Cox!’
    ‘Yes, Mr. President.’
    ‘A man of your intelligence and judgment deserves to be on the Supreme Court. I’ll put you there.’
    ‘Yes, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President.’
    …without Bork ever realising how contemptible it looked and was.

  9. 9
    gshelley

    Robert Bork says President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973. That’s still a little ambiguous, and might be a question of grammar. If it said
    “Robert Bork says after Bork complied with Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973, President Richard Nixon promised him the next Supreme Court vacancy ‘ it would be clearer, but the position of the word “after” still leaves open the interpretation “Hey, Bork, after you fire Cox, I’ll get you on the Supreme Court”
    Might need to see the surrounding context.

  10. 10
    Zeno

    This may be an apt time to point out that the meaning of “saving” has a secondary sense that makes it a reasonable choice for Bork’s book title. It can be used to mean “excepting,” as in, “We will go to the beach, save the occurrence of rain.” “The witness is excused, save that we may recall him later.” Hence Bork’s title “Saving Justice” can be viewed as a story containing everything save justice. The old bastard didn’t mean this, of course, but it’s still mildly amusing.

  11. 11
    democommie

    Bork was a whore and despicable human being. It’s only a pity that he died with so little suffering. Fuck him.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Nick Gotts

    Bork was a whore – democommie

    I see no reason to insult sex workers by comparing them to a scumbag like Bork.

  14. 14
    Argle Bargle

    Bork did get a figure of speech named after him.

  15. 15
    baal

    I’m going to have to start believing in god*. I agreed earlier today with wmdkitty and here I find Crip Dyke has a comment I find beautiful (#2).

    *don’t ask me which one, that’d give me a headache.

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