Given the legal discussions now taking place over the Bay Bridge in Washington, it is easy for those of a certain age to have flashbacks to the early 1970s as the drama of Watergate began to unfold, and the future of another sitting president was in doubt. But for many in Maryland, it was the fall of Richard Nixon’s vice president, and former governor, Spiro Agnew, that comes to mind as law experts once again ponder if a sitting president (or vice president) has prosecutorial immunity from felony charges while in office.
In the case of Agnew, local Baltimore prosecutors, under the leadership of Republican state attorney George Beall, had overwhelming evidence that the sitting vice president had taken bribes for almost a decade, including the acceptance of tens of thousands in cash while in his White House office. The question was not only whether they could indict him, but could they do so in time before Nixon was thrown out of office, hence opening the door for an Agnew presidency.
It just so happens that one of the local Baltimore prosecutors in the center of this remarkable storm is Talbot County’s, Ron Liebman. This fact surfaced recently when Ron and his two other colleagues were the stars of the highly acclaimed “BagMan” podcast by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that turns the Agnew case into a first-class legal thriller.
After retiring as a partner from Patton Boggs, he and his wife, artist Simma Liebman, moved to Easton to begin what has been a extraordinarily successful second career as a legal mystery writer himself, with his fifth book, Big Law: A Novel recently published by Penguin.
The Spy caught up with Ron at the Bullitt House this week to talk about this surreal moment in American history.
This video is approximately nine minutes in length. To hear Rachel Maddow’s “Bag Man” please go here