AUSTIN, Texas -- Charles Alan Wright, an attorney who represented President Nixon during the Watergate scandal and argued against the release of the incriminating Oval Office audiotapes, died Friday at 72.
Wright had been hospitalized since mid-June and died of complications from lung surgery, said his daughter, Henrietta Wright of Dallas.
Wright's arguments against releasing the Oval Office tapes in district and federal courts earned Wright national exposure as a constitutional authority and accolades for his courtroom arguments.
But they also brought the pressure of fighting an unpopular battle, and Wright, who served as consultant to the counsel to the president, was assailed with abusive mail and critical newspaper articles.
''I cannot be happy -- nobody could be happy -- with diminishment of a reputation as an independent legal scholar,'' Wright said in 1973. ''But if tarnishing my reputation is the price for saving the presidency and this president, then so be it.
''I'm not bitter. I have no second thoughts about my role in the tapes case.''
The Supreme Court in 1974 accepted the argument that executive privilege was a valid concept but ruled 8-0 that Nixon was not exempt from subpoenas for evidence needed in cases.
The court ordered Nixon to surrender the tapes, which contained damaging evidence of White House involvement in covering up the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.