BerksBarrister_Fall2021 - 18

w w w . B E R K SB A R .o r g
Book Review
Bag Man:
The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up
and Spectacular Downfall of a
Brazen Crook in the White House
Reviewed by Raymond Edward Baker, Esquire
e are told no one is above the law; those who commit
crimes will be punished.
This book tells the story of what happens when
you have to fight those at the very top of the law in the United
States-the Executive Branch, or at least, the man who is a
heartbeat away from occupying the Resolute Desk. Bag Man was
published by Penguin Random House and, like so many things
in the popular zeitgeist, it is a book based on a popular podcast,
which was produced and presented by Ms. Maddow and Mr.
Yarvitz. I personally was drawn to this book by its main subject,
Spiro T. Agnew-lawyer, politician, and disgraced son of The
Great State of Maryland.1
Old Line State, it is interesting to read and learn more about a
man wiped away from my birth State's and our Nation's History,
in a way that his boss, President Richard Nixon, never has been.
Bag Man tells the story about Former Vice President Agnew,
his rise, fall, and conviction handled by four prosecutors in The
United States Attorney's Office of the District of Maryland. It's a
story with a known outcome, as a brief Wikipedia search will tell
you, of him resigning in disgrace, pleading Nolo Contendere2
Bribery and, soon thereafter, being replaced by future President
Gerald R. Ford in the number two position and left to fade into
obscurity while on Federal Probation.
The book does a great job of better exposing the reader to the
men behind the scene, the four Prosecutors (The United States
Attorney and his three Assistants) who had to fight tooth and
nail to send Agnew away, if not to jail, then from the White
House. The authors do a great job of weaving the story of the
18 | Berks Barrister
three Assistant United States' Attorneys, Ron Liebman, Tim
, and Barry Skolnik, who uncovered the investigation of
a lifetime, with that of the former Baltimore County Executive,
Governor of Maryland, and then Vice President being a part of
a pay-for-play scheme in his old roles, and literally taking bags
and envelopes of cash all the way up to and including within his
Vice-Presidential residence4
; as well as the story of the Executive
As a fellow child and Lawyer from the
Branch, including Richard Nixon himself, trying to stymie them
at every turn. As one learns from the book, Richard Nixon and
his number two " Ted " Agnew took every possible action to stop
the prosecutors, from rallying the public and their party bosses
in Washington, and even attempting to do so through family by
demanding then Maryland Senator Glenn Beall, Jr. to pressure
his brother, the United States Attorney for the District of
Maryland George Beall, to kill the case!
This story for those in the legal profession contains all of the
nuances, interests, and confrontations one would expect in your
run-of-the-mill criminal prosecution turned up to 11, on a scale
of 1 to 10. Unlike most cases, you now are asking the questions
of " Can I prosecute a man with this job? " , " Am I endangering
National Security? " , and with Watergate already appearing in
the background " Do we have enough time to get this man out of
office (if he'll leave) before he's officially our boss? " .
The book (and podcast) are most certainly products of their
time. Ms. Maddow and Mr. Yarvitz very cleverly try to paint
Mr. Agnew's case in the same manner and vein as President
Trump's impeachment5
. Even to this prosecutor, biases and all,
the connections seemed to be stretched at times, as the nuances
of Mr. Trump's actions (for his first impeachment) left a far larger


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