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Review the last book you read.

An elected official is embroiled in a corruption scandal, looking to distract, shifting blame, denying factual evidence, claiming liberal bias, blaming the media, playing to his base, pressuring members of Congress, deceiving the public with shouts of “it’s all a lie”.

“Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House”, written by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz, details the bribery scandal surrounding former Vice-President Spiro Agnew.

I remember Agnew as a comical character with his face on a watch. As a naïve 19-year-old when the Watergate investigation began, had no idea of the corruption that was pervasive in the White House.

The story tells how the work of four young lawyers and an honest attorney general forced the resignation of Spiro Agnew. The authors bring the backstory to light and, through their story-telling, to life. We learn that Spiro Agnew was demanding cash payments for awarded contracts, as a county executive in Maryland, a practice that continued as he became governor of the state and as vice-president of the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barney Skolnik, 32, Tim Baker, 30 and Ron Liebman, 29, were investigating bribery in county, then state contracts in Maryland. As witnesses were interviewed, one implicated Agnew. When presented with the evidence, their boss, U.S. Attorney George Beall, 35, urged them to continue the investigation.

Despite intense pressure from friends, family and even George H.W. Bush, Beall never backed down. Beall turned a solid case over to U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson, who faced a real dilemma in the Department of Justice: the Watergate hearings were in full swing, threatening the Nixon presidency, and now the second in line was shown to be a crook. If Nixon went first, it would make Agnew president. To the prosecutors’ dismay, Richardson brokered an arrangement. To avoid jail time, Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to a single tax evasion charge, was fined $10,000 and was forced to resign as vice-president.

This page-turner is easy to read and hard to put down.

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