|Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran|
As one journalist noted: Sheeran's "deathbed confession" is still the most believable theory ever to come to light.
“History Detectives Special Investigations,” “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?” -- which ran recently this week -- purported to take a fresh look at the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, the former head of the Teamsters union who vanished from the face of the earth on July 30, 1975.
It was the perfect mob hit and a high-profile public figure, too.
The History Detectives’ investigation focuses on who killed Hoffa and why.
What the show adds to the story is primarily new information from the Nixon tapes that makes one thing perfectly clear: Fitzsimmons (Hoffa's replacement while the teamsters boss was in prison) had pressured Nixon to get Hoffa out, but he wanted "strings" attached to Hoffa.
Also of note: the show managed to drag into the spotlight one of the witnesses of the Joey Gallo hit, which The Irishman also had admitted to pulling off.
The witness, a woman, hid her identity and described a "tall white man with red hair." Showed a picture of Sheeran from around the time of the Gallo hit, she touched it with a finger and said, with no hesitation, that he was the man she had seen in the restaurant on that infamous night in Umberto's in Manhattan's Little Italy (back when there still was a Little Italy).
Eyewitness testimony is among the least reliable forms of evidence, but at least the witness was consistent with her description: she's never wavered from the redhaired guy (nor has she ever identified herself as the witness).
Nixon provides more clearcut evidence that goes to the heart of some key issues, and offers tantalizing clues armchair detectives can't help but ponder.
Attorney General Mitchell tells Nixon on a tape recording that Fitzsimmons is pressuring Mitchell to talk to Nixon about a pardon for Hoffa.
Mitchell calls Fitzsimmons a "son of a bitch."
Nixon: "Hoffa has more stroke with the members of that Teamsters than Fitzsimmons will ever have."
Mitchell: "He's a tough, beer-drinking no-good SOB like the rest of them."
Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson later picks up the story for Nixon, noting that Fitzsimmons wants Hoffa out "with strings attached to him."
The reason Fitzsimmons wanted Hoffa out, according to Colson, was that Fitzsimmons wanted to have stronger control over the pro-Hoffa elements in the Teamsters, but he wants to keep his job, so he asked for the pardon, with strings -- the strings being Hoffa was freed but had to stay out of union business until 1980.
At this time, in 1971, one must consider the mindset of the President.
Defying all logic, Nixon felt that he'd be facing a tough reelection campaign against Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, who ran an anti-war campaign but was handicapped by his outsider status, limited support from his own party, the perception of many voters that he was a left-wing extremist and the scandal that resulted from the firing of vice-presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton.
In fact, Nixon won 60.7% of the popular vote, a percentage only slightly lower than Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, but with a larger margin of victory in the popular vote (23.2%), the fourth largest in presidential election history. He received almost 18 million more popular votes than McGovern, the widest margin of any United States presidential election.
But before all this, Nixon was thinking about the war chest (and slush fund?) he'd need to start building.
Nixon told Colson: "Tell him Mitchell is gonna handle it now. Tell him to tell Mitchell everything he wants and Mitchell will do it."
"....we may take a little heat," Colson added.
"The hell with heat."
Later, John Dean would have another conversation with Nixon about the Watergate burglars' demand for money, which Dean pegged at costing around $1 million over a few years.
"We could get it..." Nixon said immediately. "In cash. I know where it could be gotten."
Taken together, we already have the "smoking gun," in the sense that Hoffa was in the right about his claims regarding his pardon being "illegal." It is against the law for the President to benefit in any way from a pardon. Nixon pardoned Hoffa knowing Fitzsimmons would funnel cash to him in return.
But what of Nixon's claims about $1 million in cash?
What else was happening at that time in American history?
To be continued...