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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2010

William Saxbe, Watergate-era attorney general, dies at 94


COLUMBUS - William Saxbe, a Republican maverick who became the fourth attorney general to serve under President Richard Nixon and presided during the Watergate investigation, died Tuesday. He was 94.

Mr. Saxbe also served in the Ohio legislature and as state attorney general.

Mr. Nixon's first two attorneys general were accused of Watergate-related crimes, and the third, Elliot Richardson, resigned to protest Mr. Nixon's efforts to limit the investigation into the break-in and cover-up attempts.

Searching for a nominee who would be easily confirmed, the president chose Mr. Saxbe, a lame-duck one-term U.S. senator who had once labeled the Nixon administration "one of the most inept" in history.

Mr. Saxbe took office in 1974 and resigned Feb. 1, 1975, six months after President Gerald Ford took office, to become ambassador to India, a post he held until January, 1977.

Mr. Saxbe's first mission as attorney general was to convince the public and the White House that he would brook no interference with the operations of the independent Watergate prosecutor.

The Watergate scandal, which involved a 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee offices later traced to the Committee to Re-elect the President, led to the resignation of several in the Nixon administration as well as convictions related to cover-up efforts. Mr. Nixon resigned in August, 1974.

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