He’s not a criminal.
At least that’s what most audiences of an off-Broadway play about President Richard M. Nixon — starring famed impersonator Rich Little — consider the late, disgraced Watergate determine.
The present places the audience of “Trial on the Potomac” in place of the Senate, which, after the curtain name, should vote on whether or not or not to “convict” Tricky Dick at an impeachment trial, one thing Nixon prevented in actual life by resigning.
The outcomes: of 26 showings up to now, only one — a Sunday matinee — collected the required 67 votes to convict. All others discovered Nixon “not guilty.”
The play on the Theatre at St. Clement’s relies on paperwork painstakingly uncovered in the years since Nixon’s 1974 resignation by Geoff Shepard, 76, who in his 20s was a lawyer in the Nixon White House and labored on the president’s Watergate protection.
His thesis: Nixon was the sufferer of “a secret cabal of prosecutors, judges and congressional staff.”
Little, 82, who stated he’d had to “dust off” his Nixon impression after 5 a long time, says he has a brand new view of Nixon.
“Back during Watergate, I wasn’t a huge fan of his. But I didn’t know all the information that Geoff came up with. And if you read his book and study Nixon more closely — like Geoff did for God knows how many years — you come to a different conclusion,” Little informed The Post.
Little, a daily on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” made a career out of his Nixon impersonation.
“If you look at what’s happening today, Watergate is practically nothing, really,” he stated.
The “Man of a Thousand Voices” went on, pointing to the 1960 election: “The similarities between Nixon and Donald Trump is, they both say the election was stolen. And I think it was — both of them.”
Chief among the many papers Shepard turned up: the prosecution’s formerly-sealed Watergate “road map,” which the National Archives solely launched in 2018 after Shepard received in federal court docket. The “crux” of the paperwork is the formerly-sealed high accusation that Nixon approved the important thing $75,000 fee to Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt. But Shepard says the chronology doesn’t line up — and asserts that the street map’s authors intentionally obfuscated this.
Onstage, any time an actor raises a doc, it’s a replica of the true factor, Shepard stated. In one case it’s Shepard’s personal copy of the Nixon Oval Office tapes transcript, which he spent numerous hours compiling himself in 1974.
The notorious 18 ½ minute hole in the tapes “remains an unsolved mystery,” Shepard stated. “Still, in 2014 [former White House Counsel] John Dean described it as ‘historically insignificant mainly because the conversation occurred three days after the break-in arrests — well before any facts were known.”
“There are no loose ends in the play. You could get representatives from the special prosecutor’s office to try and fly-speck it — to try to pick out something that’s wrong — and they can’t do it. Every document is referenced, it’s available to the public, and the story follows fact,” Shepard stated.
The playwright, George Bugatti, stated he approached Shepard after studying one in all his books, “The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot That Brought Nixon Down.”
“The challenge was to dramatize these documents and to make them come alive and not have it come across as one huge legal brief,” he stated.
Though the present is scheduled to shut Sept. 4, Shepard stated his purpose wasn’t to put on a “financially successful play.” Rather, it was “to have future scholars and researchers say, ‘I’ll be a son of a gun.’”