Shortly after graduating from law school in 1968, Bud Krogh joined the Seattle firm operated by long-time family friend John Ehrlichman. Krogh barely had time to warm a chair before Ehrlichman took him to the White House to oversee federal law enforcement and internal security matters.
His naivete and gullibility showed when, in a meeting with President Nixon, the Chief Executive, who was elected on a platform of law and order, turned to the 29 year-old aide and said, “I want you to cut down crime in the district (of Columbia).” “Yes, sir,” Krogh replied and returned to his office to phone D. C. Mayor Walter Washington. “Mr. Mayor, my name is Bud Krogh. I’ve just come from a meeting with the President and would like you to cut crime in the District. Would you please sort of get after that and call me back when crime stops.” A bewildered Mayor Washington said he would.
Krogh’s lack of sophistication would play a role in his ending up in jail at age 34. In 1971, shortly after the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, Ehrlichman directed Krogh to set up a unit to stop the leaks, and in the process, gather information to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department employee who gave the Times the papers. With the help of Colson, Hunt, Liddy, and others, Krogh formed the “Plumbers,” who searched the Los Angeles office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Later, when questioned by law enforcement officers about the break-in, Krogh denied any knowledge.
Nine months after the Watergate burglary, in his testimony before prosecutors, John Dean revealed that people in the White House played a role in the Los Angeles break-in. At the same time, the judge who was trying Ellsberg on charges of espionage and larceny asked anyone with knowledge about the matter to come forward. Krogh seized the opportunity to come clean. In a letter to the judge, he revealed what had occurred in 1971. The judge dismissed the charges against Ellsberg, and charges were filed against Krogh. He met with Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski to signal his willingness to cooperate in the Watergate investigation, then pleaded guilty to charges of depriving Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding, of his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The man who labored hard in the war against drugs, playing a role in bringing down the infamous French Connection, and establishing the Drug Enforcement Agency, spent six months in federal prison.