Perhaps the only photo ever taken of the Watergate Committee investigators shows Meier swapping a joke with Terry Lenzner, Scott Armstrong, Robert Muse and Martin Lackritz. Washington’s Mayflower Hotel was the scene of this secret meeting between John Meier (far left) and the Senate committee’s staff investigators in Oct. 1973.
John Meier has been referred to in the media as the man who brought down President of the United States Richard Nixon in Watergate, the greatest political scandal in United States history. The downfall of President Nixon forever impacted the world and Watergate created the suffix -gate that follows a relevant word to refer to a scandal (such as Irangate and Bridgegate).
Meier had come to realize how evil President Nixon was and how bad of a person he was for America and the world, so with the upcoming United States Presidential election in 1972, Meier, working with former Vice President of the United States Hubert Humphrey and others, wanted to feed disinformation to President Nixon that would lead to him losing the election. In late 1971, the President’s brother Donald Nixon was collecting intelligence for his brother at the time and was asking Meier about the Democratic National Chairman, Larry O’Brien, who had worked for Meier and the Hughes Organization. Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the election since they had a lot of information on President Nixon’s illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that had never been released, including Hughes paying a million-dollar bribe to President Nixon, that Meier had witnessed, and that Larry O’Brien had the information (O’Brien didn’t actually have any documents but Meier wanted Nixon to think he did). Meier then witnessed Donald calling his brother and telling him that Meier gave the Democrats all the Hughes information that could destroy him (Richard Nixon) and that O’Brien has it. This provided President Nixon, who already believed that a previous Hughes loan contributed to him losing the 1960 Presidential Election, with the motivation to break into O’Brien’s office at the Watergate Hotel on June 17, 1972, using mostly former United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, as he wanted to find out if anything was going to break before the election, and which led to the Watergate scandal.
Meier secretly met with the Watergate Investigators in Washington D.C. on Oct. 13, 1973 at the Mayflower Hotel and on October 23, 1973 at the Jefferson Hotel to discuss what he would expose in the Watergate televised hearings, which not only included exposing the illicit activities of President Nixon, but Meier was also going to use the worldwide exposure of the televised hearings to expose the CIA’s illicit activities, the infiltration of the Hughes Organization and the spy apparatus it supplied the CIA, much of which he reported to the Watergate Investigators.
Meier’s private testimony to the Watergate Investigators was then illegally leaked to President Nixon and the CIA.
In the first week of November 1973, after reviewing the Watergate Investigators report on what Meier will expose, the full United States Senate Watergate Committee voted to grant Meier immunity, in order for Meier to testify in the televised hearings, but the Watergate prosecutor’s office fought to block the immunity, without providing a reason, and where successful when on November 20, 1973 Judge John J. Sirica granted the block until December 5, 1973, the maximum delay permitted by law.
On November 27, 1973 the Watergate hearings where delayed until early 1974 because of issues granting Meier immunity, investigating the Hughes bribes to Nixon that Meier revealed, and difficulties trying to subpoena individuals within the Hughes Organization that Meier was exposing, including the people who had kidnapped Howard Hughes.
The day after the immunity could no longer be blocked, December 6, 1973, Judge Sirica granted the immunity and Meier was going to be the next person to testify. But the Watergate hearings went back into secret session to prevent Meier from telling the world what he knew. Meier was told a deal had been made behind the scenes because his testimony would be too damaging and that a lot of people were worried that too much would be uncovered about Howard Hughes’ dealings beyond President Nixon and that they are now discussing immunity with President Nixon.
Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
Americans were outraged when now President of the United States Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon only 4 weeks later on September 8, 1974.
Chief Counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee Sam Dash, said he believed the burglary happened because Nixon wanted to know what information Meier might have given opposition Democrats about the President and Howard Hughes, and many prominent individuals have come out over the years stating they are convinced that the Watergate burglary took place in order to find out what O’Brien knew about Nixon’s Hughes connection, including Senate Watergate Committee Deputy Counsel Terry Lenzner, who was one of the Watergate Investigators that interviewed Meier, Chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee Senator Sam Ervin, White House Counsel for President Nixon John Dean, and even White House Chief of Staff to President Nixon H.R. Haldeman.
Meier had then attempted to expose what he knew through the media but paid a very high political and personal price for bringing down President Nixon and attempting to expose the CIA.
A CIA agent, Virgino Gonzalez, on May 2nd, 1975, made public an affidavit deciding to expose to the world what the CIA had been doing, an excerpt of which is “I love the United States and am grateful for all that it has done for me… It is not my intention to place the security of the country at risk and to involve any of my colleagues in this statement. My intention is simply to show that the agency [CIA] is a tool of the President and those close to him in power and is used in a wrongful way to harass people for personal political purposes”. Much of the affidavit included information on illegal activities the CIA was carrying out against Meier and further shockingly illicit activities they were still planning against him, including suggesting murdering a friend of Meier’s and that “Meier would get the message because he was married and had children”.
The Canadian Government went to Washington D.C. to meet United States Senator Weicker and United States Congressman Aschcroft to express their concern of the CIA conducting operations in Canada to harass John Meier and the Canadian press reported that United States Senator Frank Church expressed interest in investigating it.
On September 1976, Playboy Magazine released the award winning landmark article, Hughes, Nixon and the CIA: The Watergate Conspiracy Woodward and Bernstein Missed, which stated “more than 100 hours of interviews with him [Meier] and hundreds of documents obtained by PLAYBOY during a year’s research all point to one inescapable conclusion: On the subject of his role in events leading to Watergate, Meier is telling the truth, and his recall of detail rivals John Dean’s.” and which revealed Meier’s role in Watergate and other information Meier revealed about President Nixon and the illicit activities of the CIA, including publishing a document that Meier revealed to Playboy which was a list of United States Politicians that the CIA had wanted Howard Hughes to fund in September 2, 1968, including then Congressman Gerald Ford. It was this article that consequently sealed Meier’s fate with the CIA as it further confirmed Meier’s involvement with Watergate and that Meier was going to continue to try and expose the CIA, resulting in the CIA’s worldwide pursuit of Meier for another decade, including framing Meier for Obstruction of Justice and eventually murder in 1981, which he fought for years and which was resolved in 1986 as the charges were dropped.
Although he had problems with the CIA in the past, Meier also had several CIA agents trying to help him during that time as well as he had maintained a good relationship with United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director J. Edgar Hoover, and always remained on good terms with the FBI.
Watergate had sent a shockwave through the United States and was responsible for many in the United States Congress to demand investigations into past activities of Americas Intelligence organizations, including the CIA, FBI, and the National Security Agency (NSA). This consequently led to the formation of various Committees including the Church Committee (formally the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities), which was Chaired by Senator Church, and committees that continue to exist today such as the Pike Committee (which is the common name for the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence), which hearings from those committees exposed the harassment of American citizens, including secret wiretappings of Supreme Court Justices, members of Government, the press and prominent Americans such as leader of the American civil rights movement Martin Luther King Jr., all under the cover of claiming collecting intelligence about threats to national security.
In the Afterword of the book Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes, Meier summed up his politically motivated battle by saying “My story is one of a man devastated by a corrupt system. Our governments are increasingly disrespectful of basic human rights such that we can no longer legitimately call our nations democracies. I hope that this story will contribute to changing this course”.