Leonard Garment, a top-shelf Washington lawyer whose most famous client was the embattled president of the United States, Richard Nixon, at the peak of the Watergate scandal, died July 13 in New York City. He was 89.

His daughter, Ann Garment, confirmed his death but did not cite a specific cause.

For decades, Garment was one of the most prized lawyers on the East Coast. His roster of clients included former attorney general Edwin Meese III, former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, Toshiba, and the jazz bandleader Benny Goodman.

The latter client reflected Garment early life as a professional saxophonist and clarinetist. As a young man, he performed in the Woody Herman big band and with future Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

Garment was a Democrat in a Republican administration. Garment was credited with encouraging Nixon not to destroy White House tape recordings, an act that he said would have been obstruction of justice. Garment later said that the advice was sound legal judgment but poor political advice.

By late 1973, he had encouraged the president to resign, as Nixon would ultimately do on Aug. 9, 1974. In the last days of the presidency, he spoke little with Nixon, save for one conversation the night before the resignation.

“I’m sorry I let you down, Len,” the president said. He hung up before Garment could respond.


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