Elliot Lee Richardson (July 20, 1920 December 31, 1999) was an American lawyer and politician who was a member of the cabinet of President Richard Nixon, but he managed to avoid being tainted by the Watergate Scandal. Under Nixon, Richardson served as Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1970 to 1973, Secretary of Defense from January to May of 1973, and (after the resignation of John Mitchell) Attorney General from May 24 to October 1973. When President Nixon selected Richardson as secretary of defense, the press described him as an excellent manager and administrator, perhaps the best in the cabinet. In his confirmation hearing, Richardson expressed agreement with Nixon's policies on such issues as the adequacy of U.S. strategic forces, NATO and relationships with other allies, and Vietnam. Although he promised to examine the budget carefully to identify areas for savings, and in fact later ordered the closing of some military installations, he cautioned against precipitate cuts. As he told a Senate committee, "Significant cuts in the Defense Budget now would seriously weaken the U.S. position on international negotiations--in which U.S. military capabilities, in both real and symbolic terms, are an important factor." Similarly, he strongly supported continued military assistance at current levels. During his short tenure, Richardson spent much time testifying before congressional committees on the proposed FY 1974 budget and other Defense matters..
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