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A Note On Clifford Irving And Watergate
In THE HOAX, Clifford Irving's story of bold deception collides with one of the biggest scandals of power and corruption that has ever hit the U.S.: the ill-fated and illegal break-in of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Hotel – an event that would ultimately bring down the administration of President Nixon and permanently change American politics.

Did Clifford Irving truly find himself, however unwittingly, as a player in the back-story of Watergate? Considerable evidence unearthed by producer Josh Maurer suggests he did. According to such sources as Senate Watergate Committee hearings, FBI files and the memoirs of former members of Nixon's administration, Nixon either read the galleys or was provided a summary of Irving's unpublished book prior to June, 1972 – and erupted with concern over the fact that it highlighted shockingly accurate, theretofore top-secret information about illegal loans Howard Hughes had made to Nixon's brother in exchange for favors. "We were stunned -- and intrigued -- to discover the very real probability that this hoax prompted Nixon's terror of a connection between the DNC and Howard Hughes,” says producer Leslie Holleran.

The arrival of Irving's soon-to-be-published book coincided with a time when Nixon had ample reason to fear that the powerful Hughes, under pressure of government lawsuits and angry over nuclear testing in Nevada, might seek to destroy his administration. Adding fuel to the fire was the discovery made by "the Plumbers” in the first Watergate break-in that DNC Chairman Lawrence O'Brien was on Hughes' payroll. While no one will ever know how each of the many pieces of the puzzle factored into Nixon's mind when he ordered the second break-in at the Watergate Hotel, it appears that the revelations in Irving's forthcoming book were involved in the mix.

For example, in former White House Counsel John Dean's book Blind Ambition he reports that: "[Robert Bennett] came to see me. He wanted me to have the Justice Department investigate Irving. I passed, but I remember that Haldeman [H.R. Haldeman, White House Chief of Staff] wanted to find out what was in the Irving manuscript. And somebody from the White House got a copy from the publisher.” Dean also quotes former Chief Counsel Charles Colson as saying: "Everyone figured Maheu [referring to Robert Maheu, a former FBI and CIA employee who was a key figure inside Hughes' organization] might have supplied Irving with information one way or another . . . The way I see it, Haldeman was worried about that coming out. Another messy Hughes scandal.”

FBI files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act further confirm that FBI director Edgar J. Hoover was sending Haldeman reports on the Irving affair. This is further corroborated by Senate Watergate Committee testimony, such as this confession from Nixon's political adviser Charles "Bebe” Rebozo: "The concern was principally any disclosure that the president had received Hughes' money … I didn't want to risk even the remotest embarrassment about any Hughes connection to Nixon.”

The widely praised book Citizen Hughes: The Power, The Money and The Madness by Michael Drosnin, further builds the central thesis that Nixon's driving concern was that the Democrats were being fed scandalous information by Howard Hughes' inside organization – leading back to Clifford Irving's book and its highlighting of the illegal loans. Finally, in his own memoirs (RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon) former President Nixon writes: ".There was new information . . . that the Hughes organization might be involved. And there were stories of strange alliances.”

One of the great true-life ironies of Clifford Irving's story is that he found himself, however unintentionally, in the middle of this realm of strange alliances – all based on an alliance between hi

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