Richard Kleindienst, a Republican lawyer and loyalist, assumed the job of Attorney-General on June 12, 1972, just five days before the Watergate burglars were arrested. As the burglars and the White House resisted the FBI's efforts to investigate, Kleindienst was forced to choose between loyalty to the law and to the president. He chose to protect Nixon, effectively guaranteeing his tenure would be short. He resigned on April 30, 1973, the same day that Nixon forced his top two aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman, to quit. A year later, Kleindienst's close personal friendship with Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a fellow Arizonan, prompted Rehnquist to recuse himself when the Watergate tapes case reached the Supreme Court.
Kleindienst died on Feb. 3, 2000.
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