The date was June 4, 1968. Justice Abe Fortas put in an urgent call to J. Edgar Hoover’s close aide at the FBI, C.D. De Loach. Fortas reported that his colleague William Brennan Jr. had just found a 12-gauge shotgun on the front lawn of his Georgetown home.

Brennan, who wanted nothing about the incident to make it into the press, had asked Fortas to make the call to the FBI. Brennan was taken aback by the discovery, concerned that he was the target of an extortion plot.

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