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Interview with James Hamilton, May 7, 2019

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:01:26 - Growing up in South Carolina

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Partial Transcript: I was born in Chester, South Carolina...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton talks about his childhood, as he grew up in South Carolina during the early 1940's. Hamilton recalls his summers spent in Montreat, North Carolina. Hamilton describes his father as a man who sold municipal bonds and was without party affiliation. Hamilton explains that he eventually came to attend Davidson College before he went to Yale Law School.

Keywords: Davidson College; Montrat, North Carolina; South Carolina; Yale University; municipal bonds

00:09:03 - Early career / Watergate investigation

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, Jack was an interesting guy...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton explains that after graduating from law school, he spent two years in Germany as a member of the Army before he earned his masters at the London School of Economic Law (LSE). Hamilton talks about his first job working at Covington & Burlington LLP. Hamilton states that he was eventually hired as an assistant to the chief council in the 1970's Watergate investigations. Hamilton describes working with lawyer Samuel Dash during the investigation, and in later cases. Hamilton describes the House Committee on Ethics's involvement in the Watergate investigation.

Keywords: Chester, South Carolina; Covington & Burling LLP; Davidson College; Howard Baker; London; London School of Economic Law (LSE); President Richard Nixon; Samuel Dash; United States House Committee on Ethics; Watergate investigation

00:16:38 - Watergate (cont.) / Herman Talmadge

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Partial Transcript: They would be the ones who would...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton describes the work conducted by the senate members in regards to the 1970's Watergate investigation. Hamilton explains the relationships among senators during investigation process. Hamilton recalls his first impressions of Henry Talmadge as a honest and dedicated individual. Hamilton compares the political views of Henry Talmadge to those of Sam Ervin.

Keywords: Fred Thompson; Herman Talmadge; Howard Baker; Sam Ervin; United States House Committee on Ethics; Watergate Investigation

00:22:43 - Herman Talmage and the Watergate investigation

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Partial Transcript: What was his biggest contribution, Senator Talmadge ...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton describes Herman Talmadge's main contribution to the Watergate investigation as being an effective questioner. Hamilton recalls that Talmadge pushed for efficiency during the Watergate hearings. Hamilton states that after the hearings, he wrote a book covering the legal aspects of congressional investigations. Hamilton explains that the intricacies of the Watergate scandal made for a interesting book, which he says is currently used throughout US law schools.

Keywords: Herman Talmadge; John Ehrlichman; Samuel Dash; Samuel Ervin; litigation

00:31:13 - Talmadge controversy

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Partial Transcript: So right after the book's published...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton describes his work conducted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations. Hamilton explains that he represented Marina Oswald Porter, the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald during the JFK assassination investigation. Hamilton describes his work representing Herman Talmadge during his hearing before the Senate Investigation Committee. Hamilton explains that Talmadge was accused of collecting senate campaign earnings and submitting false senate expense vouchers. Hamilton recalls that the investigation revealed that Daniel Minchew, aid to Talmadge, had set up the accounts and authored the vouchers.

Keywords: Daniel Minchew; Department of Justice; Herman Talmadge; House Select Committee on Assassinations; JFK assassination; Lee Harvey Oswald; Marina Oswald Porter

00:38:26 - Talmadge controversy (cont.)

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Partial Transcript: Minchew, of course, was prosecuted...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton relates how Daniel Minchew, aid to Senator Herman Talmadge, was found guilty of forging Senate vouchers and redirecting senate campaign money into a secret bank account. He recalls that, throughout the hearings, it was obvious that Minchew was the culprit though, it was also evidenced that Talmadge may have possessed some knowledge of the happenings. Hamilton recalls members of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics during the hearings, and their positions concerning the Talmadge investigations.

Keywords: Daniel Minchew; Herman Talmadge; United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics

00:45:09 - Daniel Minchew investigation

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Partial Transcript: One of the best examples was...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton recalls that the previous actions of Daniel Minchew during the Talmadge investigation revealed his lack of credibility. Hamilton describes the contributions made by Herman Talmadge's ex-wife, Betty Talmadge to the investigation. Hamilton recalls that Talmadge was found to have possessed a substantial sum of money, hidden in a coat pocket, which was discovered by Betty Talmadge. Hamilton explains that the origin of the funds was never discovered, though it proved to be irrelevant to the case.

Keywords: Betty Talmadge; Daniel Minchew; Herman Talmadge

00:52:19 - Hidden money and the Talmadge controversy

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Partial Transcript: Because it was so confusing...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton states that the discovery of untracked money in Talmadge's coat pocket by Betty Talmadge did not have an effect on the Senate Ethics Committee's investigation on Herman Talmadge. Hamilton states that the inattention to the money by the court was due in part to the suspicion that Betty Talmadge may have possessed an alternative motive in her ex-husband's case. Hamilton talks about the ways in which the press biased the coverage of the trial.

Keywords: Betty Talmadge; Gordon Ray Roberts; Herman Talmadge; Zell Miller

00:58:30 - Talmadge controversy ruling

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Partial Transcript: So, how did you and the Senator react...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton relates the decision reached by the Ethics committee concerning the investigations of Herman Talmadge. Hamilton recalls that the committee eventually decided to call the case as "denounced", which Hamilton describes as a form of censure carried out without reprimanding. Hamilton states that the ruling was not detrimental to Talmadge's political career

Keywords: Herman Talmadge; House Committee on Ethics; Thomas Dodd; censure; reprimand

01:05:50 - Changes in the Ethics Committee's investigations

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Partial Transcript: Did you stay on the senator's...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton explains the Committee on Ethic's decision not to indict Senator Herman Talmadge on claims made by the Department of Justice. Hamilton describes the ways in which investigations conducted by the Ethics Committee have changed throughout the years.

Keywords: Daniel Minchew; Department of Justice; Herman Talmadge; United States House Committee on Ethics

01:14:06 - Immunity and the Ethics Committee

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Partial Transcript: One change from watergate is...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton explains why the Watergate hearings discouraged the Department of Defense from granting immunity to key witnesses.

Keywords: Iran-Contra Affair; United States House Committee on Ethics; Watergate Scandal

01:15:13 - The vetting process

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Partial Transcript: One of the other, one of the other, I don't want to say jobs...

Segment Synopsis: Hamilton describes how he conducts the vetting process for key candidates in the democratic party. Hamilton emphasizes that his process is focused on gathering extensive intelligence while ensuring the privacy of candidates. Hamilton recalls details on how he got involved in the vetting process, as he started out vetting White House employees, cabinet members, Supreme Court members, and currently assists with vetting Vice Presidents.

Keywords: Al Gore; Arthur B. Culvahouse; Barack Obama; Bill Clinton; Hilary Clinton; Richard Moe; Sarah Palin