WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., a moderate Republican known as the politician who inquired what President Richard Nixon knew during the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings, has died. He was 88.
Baker, who served as U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2001 until early 2005, died today at his home, according to an e-mail distributed at the law firm where Baker was senior counsel. He died as a result of complications from a stroke suffered Saturday, the e-mail said.
The scion of a political family, Baker served 18 years in the Senate, winning widespread respect from Republicans and Democrats alike and rising to the post of majority leader.
“Senator Baker truly earned his nickname: the Great Conciliator. I know he will be remembered with fondness by members of both political parties,” Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the Senate floor today, announcing Baker's death to the chamber.