In a recently released secret recording, Nixon calls Thompson: "Dumb as hell."
When told that Thompson was going to be the lead Republican on the Senate Watergate investigation, Nixon's response was:"Oh Shit."
Not because he thought Thompson was going to be smart enough to uncover any corruption, but because he would not be smart enough to help defend the Nixon White House.
Today, Thompson brags about his role in the Watergate investigation. He especially likes people to remember when he asked White House Aide Alexander Butterfield: "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?"
Butterfield responded: "I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir."
It was a bombshell that opened up Nixon's White House to the public. Every conversation was recorded. Every illeagal deed saved for posterity. Every opinion of who Nixon thought was an idiot saved for ever.
But Thompson may not be as valiant a hero as he likes to portray himself now. Thompson admitted that he tipped off Nixon and his henchmen that he was going to ask Butterfield the quesiton to give them time to prepare for what would happen next.
In fact a former investigator for the committee, Scott Armstrong, outlined Thompson's role in the Watergate hearings this way:
"Thompson was a mole for the White House," Armstrong said in an interview. "Fred was working hammer and tong to defeat the investigation of finding out what happened to authorize Watergate and find out what the role of the president was." 7/4/07 Boston Globe
Thompson said that he thought that the tape system would provide evidence Nixon wasn't guilty.
Thompson's role in Watergate did prove one thing. Nixon was right. Fred Thompson is dumb as hell.