Who Were the White House Plumbers and What Did They Do?

By Louie Fecou
Published: May 2, 2023 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Who Were the White House Plumbers and What Did They Do

Who Were the White House Plumbers, and What Did They Do? In anticipation of the HBO series, we discuss the White House Plumbers.

The story of Watergate, Nixon, and the American Presidency has been tackled once again by HBO in their five-part mini-series White House Plumbers.

The enigmatically titled show stars Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux under the auspices of showrunners and creators Alex Gregory and Peter Hyuck.

The series is set in 1971 and follows the Special Investigation Unit set up to find the source of the government leaks, notably The Pentagon Papers that were mysteriously acquired by the press.

If you leak, you need a plumber, so this whistle-blowing article is here to answer the question who were the White House Plumbers, and what did they do?

Who were the White House Plumbers?

The White House Plumbers, often called just The Plumbers, was a Special Investigation Unit led by G. Gordon Liddy. Established on July 24, 1971, during the term of Richard Nixon, its job was to find out who was giving out secret information to the press.

However, as their work escalated, they began using less-than-ethical methods while working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President.

You may have heard of the Watergate Scandal, which came from events that followed this affair.

The Plumbers included several White House figures. Most notable were Frank Sturgis, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.

What Did the White House Plumbers Do?

There were a few undercover operations that were implemented by The Plumbers, the first of which was breaking into the office of Lewis J. Fielding. Fielding was the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, and the operation was taken on to find evidence that Ellsberg had leaked The Pentagon Papers to the press and to discredit him as a source.

Other such incidents also included an investigation into the Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick Incident, where Kennedy had lost control of his car, running it into a tidal pond, resulting in the death of his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, and another investigation into the Kennedy administration’s involvement in an assassination of a South Vietnamese president.

Who was the leader of the White House Plumbers?

Although the group was led by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, there are some researchers that believe that C.I.A. officer John Paisley may have had a pivotal role in the organization.

It is also worth noting that Tricky Dicky himself, President Richard Nixon, was in power during this tumultuous time, and the group was often referred to as Nixon’s Fixers.

Is the HBO series White House Plumbers based on a True Story?

Yes, the series is based on a true story. The writers of the show that you may know from being writers on Presidential satire Veep and Late Show With David Letterman were inspired by the book Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons from The White House, and there is a screen caption at the beginning of the show that reads “The following is based on a true story. No names have been changed to protect the innocent because nearly everyone was found guilty.”

You may also be interested in the film All The President’s Men from 1976, starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as the reporters that discover the Watergate scandal, leading to the resignation of President Nixon.

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