Eyewitness to Watergate: A Documentary History for Students
Publication Year: 2007
Decades after the resignation of President Nixon, the impact of the Watergate scandal continues to affect the institutional power of the president of the United States. This landmark event is a major subject of in-depth study at the high school and college levels. Now, CQ Press has published the definitive resource on this event for students researching this political era in U.S. history.
Eyewitness to Watergate traces the events, characters, and outcomes of one of the greatest scandals in U.S. political history. No other work for the high school researcher contains so rich a collection of primary government documents, vital news stories from the time period, and expert, unbiased commentary and analysis.
Through a unique combination of primary source documents and historical journalism from the period, Eyewitness ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Introduction: Senate Hearings Bring Watergate before a Nationwide Audience
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, April 14, 1973: Watergate Scandal: A Senate Search for the Truth
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, April 14 and May 5, 1973: Watergate Personalities
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, April 21, 1973: Watergate: A Dramatic Switch by the White House
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 5, 1973: Watergate: Traumatic Week for the Administration
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 12, 1973: Watergate: Indictments, High-Level Reorganization
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 19, 1973: Watergate: Committee Hearings of ‘Utmost Gravity’
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 26, 1973: Watergate: A Presidential Counterattack
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, June 16 and 30, 1973: Watergate: Magruder Implicates Top Officials and Most Damaging Charges Yet by Dean
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 14, 1973: Watergate: Testimony from Taciturn John Mitchell
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 21, 1973: Watergate: Near Showdown on White House Records
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 28, 1973: Watergate: A Historic Constitutional Confrontation
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, August 11 and 18, 1973: Watergate Committee Hears 33rd Witness, Recesses and the 34th Watergate Witness: Nixon Restates his Case
- Introduction: ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ Precipitates House Impeachment Inquiry
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, October 27, 1973: Congress Examines Presidential Impeachment
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, November 3 and 10, 1973: Appointments and Hearings; Two Tapes do Not Exist and Congress Continues Hearings on Tapes, Prosecutor
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, November 24, 1973: Watergate: Vital Work Ahead for Senate Committee
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, December 8 and 15, 1973: Possibly a ‘Sinister Force’ Blanked out the Tape and Watergate: An Inconclusive Report on Gap in Tape
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, January 19 and 26, 1974: Watergate: Indications of Deliberate Tape Erasures and Six Months in Prison for ‘Plumber’ Egil Krogh
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, February 9, 1974: Approval of Subpoena Power for Judiciary Committee
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, April 13 and 20, 1974: Watergate: A Historic Subpoena to the President and Jaworski Subpoenas 60 Additional Conversations
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, May 4, 1974: Transcripts: A Dramatic Disclosure by Nixon
- Introduction: Nixon Resigns under Threat of Certain Impeachment
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, June 8, 1974: Grand Jury Names Nixon Co-Conspirator
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 27, 1974: Impeachment: Moving toward a Decision
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, August 3, 1974: Impeachment: 3 Articles Sent to House Floor
- Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, August 10, 1974: The Transition: Nixon Resigns, Ford Takes Over
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Eyewitness to Watergate : a documentary history for students / edited by David Hosansky.
Chronological collection of articles from Congressional quarterly weekly reports pertaining to Watergate originally published in 1973 and 1974.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-87289-416-7 (alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 0-87289-416-9 (alk. paper)
1. Watergate Affair, 1972–1974. 2. United States—Politics and government—1969–1974. 3. Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913–1994—Resignation from office. 4. Watergate Affair, 1972–1974—Sources. 5. United States—Politics and government—1969–1974—Sources. I. Hosansky, David. II. Congressional quarterly weekly reports. III. Title.
List of Features[Page vi]
Many chapters conclude with “Points to Ponder,” discussion questions that encourage students to reflect on the legal and political issues addressed in this volume. These appear on pages 25, 41, 49, 59, 80, 87, 103, 115, 143, 158, 186, 200, 218, 252, 271, 283, and 299.
- Martha Mitchell's Phone Calls 23
- Watergate Announcement Text 38
- Background of Executive Privilege 39
- White House Resignations 43
- Pentagon Papers 44
- Poll Report: Damage to Nixon from Watergate Affair 44
- The Grand Jury 53
- CIA Says White House Pressured It to Assume Role 57
- Executive Privilege 60
- Nixon and National Security 62
- Editorial Comment on Nixon's May 22 Statement 63
- Cox's Efforts to Delay, Limit Senate Investigation 65
- Presidential Subpoena: Violation of Constitution? 67
- Prosecutor Archibald Cox 69
- Duties and Responsibilities of the Special Prosecutor 70
- Committee for the Re-election of the President 72
- McGovern on Watergate 74
- Plans for ‘Political Enemies’—and Mills’ Response 76
- Conspiracy, Obstruction Laws 78
- Presidential Resignation: No Historic Precedents 78
- Separation of Powers: A Continuous Struggle 81
- Committee Resolution, Ervin Letter 86
- Butterfield's Explanation of Presidential Wiretaps 89
- Conflict Issue Is Joined: On to the Supreme Court 93
- Poll Report 98
- Ervin, Baker Responses to Nixon Denial of Records 101
- Drinan Impeachment Resolution 103
- Summary of Nixon's Reply in Court Test over Tapes 106
- Four Versions on Notification 107
- Blackmun: ‘Grave Damage’ 109
- Summary of Cox Argument for Tapes Subpoena 110
- Watergate Box Score: Over 20 Investigations … Lawsuits, Trials—and Several More Threatened 112 [Page vii]
- Impeachment 120
- Presidential Succession 127
- Presidential Disability 128
- Impeachment of Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson 133
- Nixon on Resigning 154
- Congressional Reaction to Nixon on Missing Tapes 154
- Excerpts of Media Demands for Nixon's Resignation 156
- Tape Blank: 18 Minutes 160
- Regulating Campaign Contributions 160
- Phase I of Committee Hearings: Unanswered Questions 162
- Dirty Tricks 164
- Jaworski's Committee Testimony 166
- Poll Report 167
- Listening and Testing 170
- Untangling Subpoena Confusion 171
- Box Score of Watergate Indictments and Convictions 173
- Defenders of the President 179
- An Impeachable Offense Is … 179
- Experts’ Report to Court on 18-Minute Hum in Tape 181
- Text of H Res 803 190
- Nixon's Refusal on Tapes: ‘Not in National Interest’ 191
- Impeachable Offense: Opinion of Inquiry Staff 192
- Impeachable Offense: Opinion of Nixon Attorneys 194
- Nixon on Impeachment 196
- Areas of Inquiry 196
- Nixon on Resignation: No Plans for ‘an Easy Cop-out’ 197
- Televising an Impeachment: A Disputed Proposition 199
- Poll Report 206
- Mitchell-Stans Trial: Acquittal on All 15 Counts 215
- The Tapes: A Nine-Month Battle for Disclosure 216
- Text of Nixon's Letter on Subpoenaed Tapes, Diary 223
- Can a President Be Indicted? 225
- Excerpts from Jaworski's Argument to Supreme Court … Asking [for] White House Tapes as Evidence for Trial 228
- Nixon's Reaction to Decision 245
- Dean Sentencing 255
- The Tapes 258
- The ‘Fragile Coalition’ that Decided Final Votes 259
- House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Votes 267
- Text of Articles Not Approved 270
- Vice Presidential Successions 283
- Transcript of Ford's Pardon of Nixon 289
- Pardon Proclamation 290
- Text of Nixon's Statement 291
- Pardons: A Glossary 294
- The Tapes to Nixon 297
- TerHorst Resignation 298
Guide to Eyewitness to Watergate: A Documentary History for Students[Page viii]
The various elements of Eyewitness to Watergate can be identified by their appearance. Introductory text, commentary, and other contributions by editor David Hosansky appear in a font different from the material originally published in the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (CQWR). For examples please see below.[Page ix][Page x]
- Transcript of Conversations between President Nixon and H. R. Haldeman, June 23, 1972 307
- Transcript of Meeting with President Nixon, H. R. Haldeman, and John Dean, Sept.15, 1972 310
- Transcript of Meeting between President Nixon and John Dean, March 21, 1973 312
White House Edited Transcripts of Presidential Conversations[Page 307]
This appendix contains some of the most significant transcripts of conversations between President Nixon and his top aides in the Oval Office of the White House. These transcripts show that Nixon and several of his top aides tried to prevent investigators from learning the truth about the Watergate break-in. By interfering with a criminal investigation, they violated federal law.
The first of these transcripts is known as the “smoking gun” conversation. It took place between Nixon and White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman on June 23, 1972—just a week after the break-in at the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. The two men discussed how to stop the FBI from investigating the break-in. Their tactics would have illegally obstructed a criminal investigation.
The second transcript is of a conversation between Nixon, Haldeman, and Counsel to the President John W. Dean on Sept. 15, 1972. That transcript provides details about why the break-in occurred and who the key participants in Watergate were. At their meeting, the three men also discussed the coverup.
The third transcript has become known as the “cancer on the presidency” conversation. On March 21, 1973, Dean warned Nixon that the administration's attempts to contain the crisis were failing. He likened the coverup to a cancerous growth. He also warned the president that some of the Watergate participants, including E. Howard Hunt Jr., were asking for “hush money”—a large payment in exchange for not giving testimony. When Dean told Nixon that the cost of buying the men's silence could be a million dollars, the president said he knew where he could get the funds. In this conversation, Dean also detailed the history of the coverup and the involvement of Nixon's re-election committee in 1972.
Just a few days after the March 21 meeting, Dean decided to provide evidence to the Watergate special prosecutor, and he became a key witness against top White House officials.Transcript of Conversations between President Nixon and H. R. Haldeman, June 23, 1972
This is a transcript of what has become known as the “smoking gun” tape. It clearly incriminated Nixon and Haldeman in the Watergate coverup. The transcript is of conversations between the two men that took place just a week after the Watergate break-in. In it, they discussed ways to prevent the FBI from investigating.
In these conversations, the president approved a plan suggested by Haldeman to have top officials of the CIA tell the FBI to stay out of certain investigations of the Watergate break-in. About two hours after getting the president's approval, Haldeman met with CIA director Richard C. Helms and Gen. Vernon A. Walters, the deputy director. Walters later testified that he was “ordered” by Haldeman to inform L. Patrick Gray III, then acting FBI director, that unspecified CIA activities in Mexico might be uncovered if the bureau pursued its investigation there.
The participants are identified by the following letters: P. for the president and H. for Haldeman.
H. Now, on the investigation, you know the Democratic break-in thing, we're back in the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn't exactly know how to control it and they have—their investigation is now leading into some productive areas—because they've been able to trace the money—not through the money itself—but through the bank sources—the banker. And, and it goes in some directions we don't want it to go. Ah, also there have been some things—like an informant came in off the street to the FBI in Miami who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer [Page 308]who developed some films through this guy Barker and the films had pictures of Democratic National Committee letterhead documents and things. So it's things like that that are filtering in. Mitchell came up with yesterday, and John Dean analyzed very carefully last night and concludes, concurs now with Mitchell's recommendation that the only way to solve this, and we're set up beautifully to do it, ah, in that and that—the only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC—they did a massive story on the Cuban thing. P. That's right.
H. That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, “Stay [the] hell out of this—this is ah, business here we don't want you go to any further on it.” That's not an unusual development, and ah, that would take care of it.
P. What about Pat Gray—you mean Pat Gray doesn't want to?
H. Pat does want to. He doesn't know how to, and he doesn't have, he doesn't have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He'll call Mark Felt in [W. Mark Felt, FBI deputy associate director in 1972], and the two of them—and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because he's ambitious—
H. He'll call him in and say, “We've got the signal from across the river to put the hold on this.” And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that's what it is.
P. This is CIA? They've traced the money? Who'd they trace it to?
H. Well they've traced it to a name, but they haven't gotten to the guy yet.
P. Would it be somebody here?
H. Ken Dahlberg.
P. Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?
H. He gave $25,000 in Minnesota and, ah, the check went directly to this guy Barker.
P. It isn't from the Committee, though, from Stans?
H. Yeah. It is. It's directly traceable and there's some more through some Texas people that went to the Mexican bank which can also be traced to the Mexican bank—they'll get their names today.
P. Well, I mean, there's no way—I'm just thinking if they don't cooperate, what do they say? That they were approached by the Cubans. That's what Dahlberg has to say, the Texans too, that they—
H. Well, if they will. But then we're relying on more and more people all the time. That's the problem and they'll stop if we could take this other route.
P. All right.
H. And you seem to think the thing to do is get them to stop?
P. Right, fine.
H. They say the only way to do that is from White House instructions. And it's got to be to Helms and to—ah, what's his name. … ? Walters.
H. And the proposal would be that Ehrlichman and I call them in, and say, ah—
P. All right, fine. How do you call him in—I mean you just—well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things.
H. That's what Ehrlichman says.
P. Of course, this Hunt, that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves. Well what the hell, did Mitchell know about this?
H. I think so. I don't think he knew the details, but I think he knew.
P. He didn't know how it was going to be handled though—with Dahlberg and the Texans and so forth? Well who was the asshole that did? Is it Liddy? Is that the fellow? He must be a little nuts!
H. He is.
P. I mean he just isn't well screwed on is he? Is that the problem?
H. No, but he was under pressure, apparently, to get more information, and as he got more pressure, he pushed the people harder to move harder—
P. Pressure from Mitchell?
P. Oh, Mitchell, Mitchell was at the point (unintelligible).
P. All right, fine, I understand it all. We won't second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn't Colson.
H. The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do. To have him take an interrogation, which he did, and that—the FBI guys working the case concluded that there were one or two possibilities—one, that this was a White House—they don't think that there is anything at the Election Committee—they think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it—non-political, or it was a—Cuban and the CIA. And after their interrogation of Colson yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it is a CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would—
P. Well, not sure of their analysis, I'm not going to get that involved. I'm (unintelligible).
H. No, sir, we don't want you to.
P. You call them in.
H. Good deal.
P. Play it tough. That's the way they play it and that's the way we are going to play it.
P. When I saw that news summary, I questioned whether it's a bunch of crap, but I thought, er, well it's good to have them off us awhile, because when they start bugging us, which they have, our little boys will not know how to handle it. I hope they will though.
H. You never know.
P. Good.[Page 309]Return to Strategy
Other matters are discussed. Then the conversation returns to the break-in coverup strategy.
P. When you get in—when you get in (unintelligible) people, say, “Look the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the president just feels that ah, without going into the details—don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is a comedy of errors, without getting into it, the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah, because these people are plugging for (unintelligible) and that they should call the FBI in and (unintelligible) don't go any further into this case period!
P. (inaudible) our cause—
H. Get more done for our cause by the opposition than by us.
P. Well, can you get it done?
H. I think so.Second Meeting
P. O.K., just postpone (scratching noises) (unintelligible). Just say (unintelligible) very bad to have this fellow Hunt, ah, he knows too damned much, if he was involved—you happen to know that? If it gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing it would be a fiasco. It would make the CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it is likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs thing which we think would be very unfortunate—both for CIA, and for the country, at this time, and for American foreign policy. Just tell him to lay off. Don't you?
H. Yep. That's the basis to do it on. Just leave it at that.
P. I don't know if he'll get any ideas for doing it because our concern political (unintelligible). Helms is not one to (unintelligible)—I would just say, lookit, because of the Hunt involvement, whole cover basically this.
H. Yep. Good move.
P. Well, they've got some pretty good ideas on this Meany thing. Shultz did a good paper. I read it all (voices fade).Third Meeting
H. No problem
H. Well, it was kind of interesting]. Walters made the point and I didn't mention Hunt, I just said that the thing was leading into directions that were going to create potential problems because they were exploring leads that led back into areas that would be harmful to the CIA and harmful to the government (unintelligible) didn't have anything to do (unintelligible). (Telephone)
P. Chuck? I wonder if you would give John Connally a call he's on his trip—I don't want him to read it in the paper before Monday about this quota thing and say—look, we're going to do this, but that I checked, I asked you about the situation (unintelligible) had an understanding it was only temporary and ah (unintelligible) O.K.? I just don't want him to read it in the papers. Good. Fine.
H. (unintelligible) I think Helms did to (unintelligible) said, I've had no—
P. God (unintelligible).
H. Gray called and said, yesterday, and said that he thought—
P. Who did? Gray?
H. Gray called Helms and said I think we've run right into the middle of a CIA covert operation.
P. Gray said that?
H. Yeah. And (unintelligible) said nothing we've done at this point and ah (unintelligible) says well it sure looks to me like it is (unintelligible) and ah, that was the end of that conversation (unintelligible) the problem is it tracks back to the Bay of Pigs and it tracks back to some other the leads run out to people who had no involvement in this, except by contacts and connection, but it gets to areas that are liable to be raised? The whole problem (unintelligible) Hunt. So at that point he kind of got the picture. He said, he said we'll be very happy to be helpful (unintelligible) handle anything you want. I would like to know the reason for being helpful, and I made it clear to him he wasn't going to get explicit (unintelligible) generality, and he said fine. And Walters (unintelligible). Walters is going to make a call to Gray. That's the way we put it and that's the way it was left.Money
P. How does that work though, how, they've got to (unintelligible) somebody from the Miami bank.
H. (unintelligible). The point John makes—the Bureau is going on on this because they don't know what they are uncovering (unintelligible) continue to pursue it. They don't need to because they already have their case as far as the charges against these men (unintelligible) and ah, as they pursue it (unintelligible) exactly, but we didn't in any way say we (unintelligible). One thing Helms did raise. He said, Gray—he asked Gray why they thought they had run into a CIA thing and Gray said because of the characters involved and the amount of money involved, a lot of dough. (unintelligible) and ah, (unintelligible).
H. Well, I think they will.
P. If it runs (unintelligible) what the hell who knows (unintelligible) contributed CIA.
H. Ya, it's money CIA gets money (unintelligible) I mean their money moves in a lot of different ways, too.
P. Ya. How are (unintelligible)—a lot of good—
P. Well you remember what the SOB did on my book? When I brought out the fact, you know—
H. Ya.[Page 310]
P. That he knew all about Dulles? (expletive deleted) Dulles knew. Dulles told me. I know, I mean (unintelligible) had the telephone call. Remember, I had a call put in—Dulles just blandly said and knew why.
P. Now, what the hell! Who told him to do it? The president? (unintelligible)
H. Dulles was no more Kennedys man than (unintelligible) was your man (unintelligible).
P. (unintelligible) covert operation—do anything else (unintelligible).Transcript of Meeting with President Nixon, H. R. Haldeman, and John Dean, Sept. 15, 1972
In this meeting of Nixon, Haldeman, and Dean, the three men discussed how Dean should contain the investigation into the Watergate burglary. Dean summarized some of his actions, and Nixon and Haldeman gave him advice on several issues. Nixon and Haldeman also downplayed the importance of the bugging of the Democratic National Committee.
On the same day, a federal grand jury indicted G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt Jr., and five other men in connection with the Watergate break-in. Dean testified before the Senate Watergate Committee in June 1973 that this was the first conversation he had with Nixon about Watergate, that the president congratulated him about doing “a good job,” and that he left the meeting “with the impression that the president was well aware of what had been going on regarding the success of keeping the White House out of the Watergate scandal. … “
The transcript, among those supplied to the House Judiciary Committee April 30, 1974, was edited by the White House to delete expletives, personal characterizations, and irrelevancies.
The participants are identified by the following letters: P. for the president, D. for Dean, and H. for Haldeman.
This opens just as Dean comes in the door.
P. Hi, how are you? You had quite a day today didn't you. You got Watergate on the way didn't you?
D. We tried.
H. How did it all end up?
D. Ah, I think we can say well at this point. The press is playing it just as we expect.
D. No, not yet—the story right now—
P. It is a big story.
H. Five indicted plus the WH former guy and all that.
D. Plus two White House fellows.
H. That is good that takes the edge off whitewash really that was the thing [Nixon campaign manager John N.] Mitchell kept saying that to people in the country Liddy and Hunt [G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt Jr., Watergate conspirators] were big men. Maybe that is good.
P. How did MacGregor [Clark MacGregor, who succeeded Mitchell as campaign manager] handle himself?
D. I think very well he had a good statement which said that the Grand Jury had met and that it was now time to realize that some apologies may be due.
H. Fat chance.
D. Get the damn (inaudible).
H. We can't do that.
P. Just remember, all the trouble we're taking, we'll have a chance to get back one day. How are you doing on your other investigations?
H. What has happened on the bug?
P. What bug?
D. The second bug there was a bug found in the telephone of one of the men at the DNC [Democratic National Committee].
P. You don't think it was left over from the other time?
D. Absolutely not, the Bureau has checked and re-checked the whole place after that night. The man had specifically checked and re-checked the telephone and it was not there.
P. What the hell do you think was involved?
D. I think DNC was planted.
P. You think they did it?
D. Uh huh
P. (expletive deleted)—do they really want to believe that we planted that?
H. Did they get anything on the finger prints?
D. No, nothing at all—either on the telephone or on the bug. The FBI has unleashed a full investigation over at the DNC starting with [Democratic chairman Lawrence F.] O'Brien right now.
H. Laughter. Using the same crew—
D. The same crew—the Washington Field Office.
P. What kind of questions are they asking him?
D. Anything they can think of because O'Brien is charging them with failing to find all the bugs.
H. Good, that will make them mad.
D. So [acting FBI director L. Patrick] Gray is pissed and his people are pissed off. So maybe they will move in because their reputation is on the line. I think that is a good development.“A Good Development”
P. I think that is a good development because it makes it look so (expletive deleted) funny. Am I wrong?
D. No, no sir. It looks silly. If we can find that the DNC planted that, the whole story will reverse.
P. But how could they possible find it, though?[Page 311]
D. Well, they are trying to ascertain who made the bug. It is a custom made product. If they can get back to the man who manufactured it and who he sold it to and how it came down through the chain.
P. Boy, You never know when those guys get after it—they can really find it.
D. The resources that have been put against this whole investigation to date are really incredible. It is truly a larger investigation than was conducted against the after inquiry of the JFK assassination.
D. Good statistics supporting the finding.
H. Isn't that ridiculous—this silly thing.
P. Yes. (expletive deleted) [Sen. Barry] Goldwater [R Ariz.] put it in context when he said “(expletive deleted) everybody bugs everybody else. You know that.”
D. That was priceless.
P. It happens to be totally true. We were bugged in ‘68 on the plane and in ‘62 even running for Governor—(expletive deleted) thing you ever saw.
D. It is a shame that evidence to the fact that that happened in ‘68 was never around. I understand that only the former director had that information.
H. No, that is not true.
D. There was evidence of it?
H. There are others who have information.
P. How do you know? Does De Loache [Cartha D. De Loach, a former assistant FBI director] know?
H. I have some stuff too—on the bombing incident and too in the bombing halt stay.
P. The difficulty with using it, of course, is it reflects on [former President Lyndon B.] Johnson. If it weren't for that, I would use it. Is there any way we could use it without using his name—saying that the DNC did it? No—the FBI did the bugging.
D. That is the problem—would it reflect on Johnson or [former Vice President Hubert H.] Humphrey?
H. Johnson. Humphrey didn't do it.
P. Oh, hell no.
H. He was bugging Humphrey, too.
P. (expletive deleted)
P. Well, on the other hand. I want you to ask [former Treasury Secretary John B.] Connally. What crazy things we do. That this might help with the bombing. I don't think he will talk to Johnson—and also it would reflect on the Bureau. They hate to admit that.
H. It is a rough one on them with all this stuff that they don't do congressmen, etc.
P. It isn't worth it—the hell with it. What is the situation on the little red box? Have they found the box yet?
D. Gray has never had access to the box. He is now going to pursue the box. I spoke to him just about thirty minutes ago. Pat said, “I don't know about the box. Don't know where it is now. We never had an opportunity before when it was first released in the press that there was a box to go in but we have decided now we have grounds to go in and find it.”
H. The latest public story was that she handed it over to Edward Bennett Williams [a Washington lawyer].
D. That is right.
H. The Bureau ought to go into Edward Bennett Williams and start questioning him and have him tied up for a couple of days.
P. Yeah, I hope they do. The Bureau better get over pretty quick and get that little red box. We want it cleared up. We want to get to the bottom of it. If any body is guilty over here we want to know.
H. It will probably be in the news!
D. You might be interested in some of the allocations we got. The Stans [Maurice H. Stans, finance director of the Nixon campaign] libel action was assigned to Judge Richey [Judge Charles R. Richey of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia].
P. (expletive deleted)
D. Well now that is good and bad. Judge Richey is not known to be one of the (inaudible) on the bench, that is considered by me. He is fairly candid in dealing with people about the question. He has made several entrees off the bench—one to [Attorney General Richard G.] Kleindienst and one to Roemer McPhee [H. Roemer McPhee, a Republican Party lawyer] to keep Roemer abreast of what his thinking is. He told Roemer he thought Maury ought to file a libel action.
P. Did he?
H. Can he deal with this concurrently with the court case?
D. Yeah. The fact that the civil case drew to a halt—that the depositions were halted he is freed.
H. It was just put off for a few days, wasn't it?
D. It did more than that—he had been talking to [Earl J.] Silbert, one of the assistant U.S. attorneys down here. Silbert said, “We are going to have a hell of a time drawing these indictments because these civil depositions will be coming out and the Grand Jury has one out on this civil case but it is nothing typical.”
(Someone asked the President if he wanted Mitchell's call—he said, “Yeah.”)
D. Based on that when Silbert had told Richey this and with a casual encounter—in fact it was just in the hall, so Richey stopped the civil case so Silbert can get the indictment down.
(Telephone call from John Mitchell:) Hello.
P. (comments only from here on until end of call:) Well are you still alive.
I was just sitting here with John Dean and he tells me you were going to be sued or something. Good, Good. Yeah. Good. Sure. Well I tell you just don't let this keep you or your colleagues from concentrating on the big game. This thing is just one of those side issues and a month later everybody looks back and wonders what all the shooting was about. OK, John. Good night. Get a good night's sleep. And don't bug anybody without asking me? OK? Yeah. Thank you.
D. Three months ago I would have had trouble predicting there would be a day when this would be forgotten, but I think I can say that 54 days from now nothing is going to come crashing down to our surprise.
P. That what?
D. Nothing is going to come crashing down to our surprise.[Page 312]“Way you have Handled all this … Skillful”
P. Oh well, this is a can of worms as you know a lot of this stuff that went on. And the people who worked this way are awfully embarrassed. But the way you have handled all this seems to me has been very skillful putting your fingers in the leaks that have sprung here and sprung there. The Grand Jury is dismissed now?
D. That is correct. They have completed and they have let them go so there will be no continued investigation prompted by the Grand Jury's inquiry. The GAO [General Accounting Office] report referred over to Justice is on a shelf right now because they have hundreds of violations—they have violations of [Sen. George] McGovern [D S.D.], of [Senator] Humphrey [D Minn.], violations of [Sen. Henry M.] Jackson [D Wash.], and several hundred congressional violations. They don't want to start prosecuting one any more than they prosecute the other.
P. They definitely will not prosecute us unless they prosecute the others.
D. Well, we are talking about technical violations referred over also.
P. What about watching the McGovern contributors and all that sort of thing?
D. We have (inaudible) eye out on that. His I understand is not in full compliance.
P. He asked?
P. Well, not yet. His 300 committees—have they all reported yet?
D. We have a couple delinquent state committees.
P. It said in the paper that McGovern had 300 committees reported.
D. No, they have not. There are a lot of things he has never done—as he has never disclosed the fact that he has some 300 committees. The Wall Street Journal piece that picked it up and carried that story brought out his committees.
P. Can we say anything publicly about it?
D. Purpose there hasn't been a tax sham—it is hard to comprehend why he set up that many committees. He doesn't have that many large contributors, but they may have to disburse through a great number of smaller committees.
H. Unless someone is stealing $900,000.
D. That's right.
P. It could be. That could be possible.
H. He may be getting $900,000 from somebody. He may have two or three angels.
P. I don't think he is getting a hell of a lot of small money. I don't believe (expletive deleted). Have you had the P.O. checked yet?
H. That is John's area. I don't know.
P. Well, let's have it checked.
D. Well as I see it, the only problems we may have are the human problems and I will keep a close watch on that.
H. Human frailties.
D. People get annoyed—some finger pointing—false accusations—any internal dissension of any nature.
P. You mean on this case?
D. On this case. There is some bitterness between the Finance Committee and the Political Committee—they feel they are taking all the heat and all the people upstairs are bad people—not being recognized.“This is a War”
P. We are all in it together. This is a war. We take a few shots and it will be over. We will give them a few shots and it will be over. Don't worry. I wouldn't want to be on the other side right now. Would you?
D. Along that line, one of the things I've tried to do, I have begun to keep notes on a lot of people who are emerging as less than our friends because this will be over some day and we shouldn't forget the way some of them have treated us.
P. I want the most comprehensive notes on all those who tried to do us in. They didn't have to do it. If we had had a very close election and they were playing the other side I would understand this. No—they were doing this quite deliberately and they are asking for it and they are going to get it. We have not used the power in this first four years as you know. We have never used it. We have not used the Bureau and we have not used the Justice Department but things are going to change now. And they are either going to do it right or go.
D. What an exciting prospect.
P. Thanks. It has to be done. We have been (expletive deleted) fools for us to come into this election campaign and not do anything with regard to the Democratic senators who are running, et cetera. And who the hell are they after? They are after us. It is absolutely ridiculous. It is not going to be that way any more.Transcript of Meeting between President Nixon and John Dean, March 21, 1973
This transcript, of a meeting between Nixon and Dean on March 21, 1973, has become known as the “cancer on the presidency” tape. Dean warned that the coverup was no longer working effectively, and it could bring down the administration. He compared the break-in and ensuing coverup to a “cancer” that was destroying the presidency. Dean also warned Nixon that members of the White House “plumbers” unit, especially E. Howard Hunt Jr., were asking for[Page 313]money in order not to provide damaging testimony. He provided a detailed account of the entire coverup process.
The participants in the conversation are identified by the following letters: P. for the president and D. for Dean.
P. Well, sit down, sit down.
D. Good morning.
P. Well what is the Dean summary of the day about?
D. John caught me on the way out and asked me about why [Acting FBI Director L. Patrick] Gray was holding back on information, if that was under instructions from us. And it was and it wasn't. It was instructions proposed by the attorney general, consistent with your press conference statement that no further raw data was to be turned over to the full committee. And that was the extent of it. And then Gray, himself, who reached the conclusion that no more information should be turned over, that he had turned over enough. So this again is Pat Gray making decisions on his own on how to handle his hearings. He has been totally (unintelligible) to take any guidance, any instruction. We don't know what he is going to do. He is not going to talk about it. He won't review it, and I don't think he does it to harm you in any way, sir.
P. No, he is just quite stubborn and also he isn't very smart. You know—
D. He is bullheaded.
P. He is smart in his own way but he's got that typical (expletive deleted) this is right and I am going to do it.
D. That's why he thinks he is going to be confirmed. He is being his own man. He is being forthright and honest. He feels he has turned over too much and so it is conscious decision that he is harming the Bureau by doing this and so he is not going to.
P. We have to get the boys off the line that this is because the White House told him to do this and everything. And also, as I told [presidential assistant John D.] Ehrlichman, I don't see why our little boys can't make something out of the fact that (expletive deleted) this is the only responsible position that could possibly be made. The FBI cannot turn over raw files. Has anybody made that point? I have tried to several times.
D. Sam Ervin [chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee] has made that point himself. In fact, in reading the transcript of Gray's hearings, Ervin tried to hold Gray back from doing what he was doing at the time he did it. I thought it was very unwise. I don't think that anyone is criticizing your position on it.
P. Let's ma[k]e a point that raw files, I mean that point should be made that we are standing for the rights of innocent individuals. The American Civil Liberties Union is against it. We are against it. [Former FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover had the tradition, and it will continue to be the tradition. All files are confidential. See if we can't get someone inspired to put that out. Let them see what is in one.
D. (expletive deleted) You—
P. Any further word on [Hoover's former assistant, William C.] Sullivan? Is he still—
D. Yes, he is going to be over to see me today, this morning someplace, sometime.
P. As soon as you get that, I will be available to talk to you this afternoon. I will be busy until about one o'clock. Anytime you are through I would like to see what it is he has. We've got something but I would like to see what it is.
D. The reason that I thought we ought to talk this morning is because in our conversations, I have the impression that you don't know everything I know and it makes it very difficult for you to make judgments that only you can make on some of these things and I thought that—
P. In other words, I have to know why you feel that we shouldn't unravel something?
D. Let me give you my over-all first.
P. In other words, your judgment as to where it stands, and where we will go.“A Cancer … that is Growing”
D. I think that there is no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we've got. We have a cancer within, close to the presidency, that is growing. It is growing daily. It's compounded, growing geometrically now, because it compounds itself. That will be clear if I, you know, explain some of the details of why it is. Basically, it is because (1) we are being blackmailed; (2) people are going to start perjuring themselves very quickly that have not had to perjure themselves to protect other people in the line. And there is no assurance—
P. That that won't bust?
D. That that won't bust. So let me give you the sort of basic facts, talking first about the Watergate; and then about [political saboteur Donald H.] Segretti; and then about some of the peripheral items that have come up. First of all on the Watergate: how did it all start, where did it start? O.K.! It started with an instruction to me from Bob Haldeman to see if we couldn't set up a perfectly legitimate campaign intelligence operation over at the ReElection Committee. Not being in this business, I turned to somebody who had been in this business, [Treasury aide John J.] Jack Caulfield. I don't remember whether you remember Jack or not. He was your original bodyguard before they had the candidate protection, an old city policeman.
P. Yes, I know him.
D. Jack worked for John and then was transferred to my office. I said Jack came up with a plan that, you know—a normal infiltration, buying information from secretaries and all that sort of thing. He did, he put together a plan. It was kicked around. I went to Ehrlichman with it. I went to Mitchell with it, and the consensus was that Caulfield was not the man to do this. In retrospect, that might have been a bad call because he is an incredibly cautious person and wouldn't have put the situation [Page 314]where it is today. After rejecting that, they said we still need something so I was told to look around for someone who could go over to 1701 [1701 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Nixon re-election committee headquarters] and do this. That is when I came up with Gordon Liddy. They needed a lawyer. Gordon had an intelligence background from his FBI service. I was aware of the fact that he had done some extremely sensitive things for the White House while he had been at the White House and he had apparently done them well. Going out into Ellsberg's [Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers] doctor's office—
P. Oh, yeah.
D. And things like this. He worked with leaks. He tracked these things down. So the report that I got from [White House aide Egil] Krogh was that he was a hell of a good man and not only that a good lawyer and could set up a proper operation. So we talked to Liddy. He was interested in doing it. I took Liddy over to meet [campaign director John N.] Mitchell. Mitchell thought highly of him because Mitchell was partly involved in his coming to the White House to work for Krogh. Liddy had been at Treasury before that. Then Liddy was told to put together his plan, you know, how he would run an intelligence operation. This was after he was hired over there at the Committee. [Nixon campaign aide Jeb Stuart] Magruder called me in January and said I would like to have you come over and see Liddy's plan.
P. January of ‘72?
D. January of ‘72.
D. “You come over to Mitchell's office and sit in a meeting where Liddy is going to lay his plan out.” I said I don't really know if I am the man, but if you want me there I will be happy to. So I came over and Liddy laid out a million dollar plan that was the most incredible thing I have ever laid my eyes on: all in codes, and involved black bag operations, kidnapping, providing prostitutes to weaken the opposition, bugging, mugging teams. It was just an incredible thing.
P. Tell me this: Did Mitchell go along—?
D. No, no, not at all, Mitchell just sat there puffing and laughing. I could tell from—after Liddy left the office I said that is the most incredible thing I have ever seen. He said I agree. And so Liddy was told to go back to the drawing board and come up with something realistic. So there was a second meeting. They asked me to come over to that. I came into the tail end of the meeting. I wasn't there for the first part. I don't know how long the meeting lasted. At this point, they were discussing again bugging, kidnapping and the like. At this point I said right in front of everybody, very clearly, I said, “These are not the sort of things (1) that are ever to be discussed in the office of the Attorney General of the United States—that was where he still was—and I am personally incensed.” And I am trying to get Mitchell off the hook. He is a nice person and doesn't like to have to say no when he is talking with people he is going to have to work with.
P. That's right.
D. So I let it be known. I said “You all pack that stuff up and get it the hell out of here. You just can't talk this way in this office and you should re-examine your whole thinking.”
P. Who all was present?
D. It was Magruder, Mitchell, Liddy and myself. I came back right after the meeting and told Bob, “Bob, we have a growing disaster on our hands if they are thinking this way,” and I said, “The White House has got to stay out of this and I, frankly, am not going to be involved in it.” He said, “I agree John.” I thought at that point that the thing was turned off. That is the last I heard of it and I thought it was turned off because it was an absurd proposal.
D. Liddy—I did have dealings with him afterwards and we never talked about it. Now that would be hard to believe for some people, but we never did. That is the fact of the matter.
P. Well, you were talking with him about other things.
D. We had so many other things.
P. He had some legal problems too. But you were his adviser, and I understand you had conversations about the campaign laws, etc. Haldeman told me that you were handling all of that for us. Go ahead.
D. Now. So Liddy went back after that and was over at 1701, the Committee, and this is where I come into having put the pieces together after the fact as to what I can put together about what happened. Liddy sat over there and tried to come up with another plan that he could sell. (1) They were talking to him, telling him that he was putting too much money in it. I don't think they were discounting the illegal points. Jeb is not a lawyer. He did not know whether this is the way the game was played and what it was all about. They came up, apparently, with another plan, but they couldn't get it approved by anybody over there. So Liddy and Hunt apparently came to see [White House counsel Charles W.] Chuck Colson, and Chuck Colson picked up the telephone and called Magruder and said, “You all either fish- or cut bait. This is absurd to have these guys over there and not using them. If you are not going to use them, I may use them.” Things of this nature.
P. When was this?
D. This was apparently in February of ‘72.
P. Did Colson know what they were talking about?
D. I can only assume, because of his close relationship with Hunt, that he had a damn good idea what they were talking about, a damn good idea. He would probably deny it today and probably get away with denying it. But I still—unless Hunt [Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt Jr.] blows on him—
P. But then Hunt isn't enough. It takes two doesn't it?
D. Probably. Probably. But Liddy was there also and if Liddy were to blow—“Criminal Liability in White House”
P. Then you have a problem—I was saying as to the criminal liability in the White House.
D. I will go back over that, and take out any of the soft spots.
P. Colson, you think was the person who pushed?[Page 315]
D. I think he helped to get the thing off the dime. Now something else occurred though—
P. Did Colson—had he talked to anybody here?
D. No. I think this was—
P. Did he talk with Haldeman?
D. No, I don't think so. But here is the next thing that comes in the chain. I think Bob was assuming, that they had something that was proper over there, some intelligence gathering operation that Liddy was operating. And through [Haldeman assistant Gordon C.] Strachan, who was his tickler, he started pushing them to get some information and they—Magruder—took that as a signal to probably go to Mitchell and to say, “They are pushing us like crazy for this from the White House.” And so Mitchell probably puffed on his pipe and said, “Go ahead,” and never really reflected on what it was all about. So they had some plan that obviously had, I gather, different targets they were going to go after. They were going to infiltrate, and bug, and do all this sort of thing to a lot of these targets. This is knowledge I have after the fact. Apparently after they had initially broken in and bugged the DNC [Democratic National Committee] they were getting information. The information was coming over here to Strachan and some of it was given to Haldeman, there is no doubt about it.
P. Did he know where it was coming from?
D. I don't really know if he would.
P. Not necessarily?
D. Not necessarily. Strachan knew it. There is no doubt about it, and whether Strachan—I have never come to press these people on these points because it hurts them to give up that next inch, so I had to piece things together. Strachan was aware of receiving information, reporting to Bob. At one point Bob even gave instructions to change their capabilities from [Sen. Edmund S.] Muskie to [Sen. George] McGovern, and passed this back through Strachan to Magruder and apparently to Liddy. And Liddy was starting to make arrangements to go in and bug the McGovern operation.
P. They had never bugged Muskie, though, did they?
D. No, they hadn't, but they had infiltrated it by a secretary.
P. By a secretary?
D. By a secretary and a chauffeur. There is nothing illegal about that. So the information was coming over here and then I, finally, after—. The next point in time that I became aware of anything was on June 17th when I got the word that there had been this break in at the DNC and somebody from our Committee had been caught in the DNC. And I said, “Oh, (expletive deleted).” You know, eventually putting the pieces together—
P. You knew what it was.
D. I knew who it was. So I called Liddy on Monday morning and said, “First, Gordon, I want to know whether anybody in the White House was involved in this.” And he said, “No, they weren't.” I said, “Well I want to know how in (expletive deleted) name this happened.” He said, “Well, I was pushed without mercy by Magruder to get in there and to get more information.” That the information was not satisfactory. That Magruder said, “The White House is not happy with what we are getting.”
P. The White House?
D. The White House. Yeah!
P. Who do you think was pushing him?
D. Well, I think it was probably Strachan thinking that Bob wanted things, because I have seen that happen on other occasions where things have said to have been of very prime importance when they really weren't.
P. Why at that point in time I wonder? I am just trying to think. We had just finished the Moscow trip. The Democrats had just nominated McGovern. I mean, (expletive deleted), what in the hell were these people doing? I can see their doing it earlier. I can see the pressures, but I don't see why all the pressure was on them.
D. I don't know, other than the fact that they might have been looking for information about the conventions.
P. That's right.
D. Because, I understand that after the fact that there was a plan to bug [Democratic chairman Lawrence] Larry O'Brien's suite down in Florida. So Liddy told me that this is what had happened and this is why it had happened.
P. Where did he learn that there were plans to bug Larry O'Brien's suite?
D. From Magruder, long after the fact.
P. Magruder is (unintelligible)
D. Yeah. Magruder is totally knowledgeable on the whole thing.
D. Alright now, we have gone through the trial. I don't know if Mitchell has perjured himself in the Grand Jury or not.
D. Mitchell. I don't know how much knowledge he actually had. I know that Magruder has perjured himself in the Grand Jury. I know that Porter has perjured himself in the Grand Jury.
P. Who is [Herbert L.] Porter? (unintelligible)
D. He is one of Magruder's deputies. They set up this scenario which they ran by me. They said, “How about this?” I said, “I don't know. If this is what you are going to hang on, fine.”
P. What did they say in the Grand Jury?
D. They said, as they said before the trial in the Grand Jury, that Liddy had come over as counsel and we knew he had these capacities to do legitimate intelligence. We had no idea what he was doing. He was given an authorization of $250,000 to collect information, because our surrogates were out on the road. They had no protection, and we had information that there were going to be demonstrations against them, and that we had to have a plan as to what liabilities they were going to be confronted with and Liddy was charged with doing this. We had no knowledge that he was going to bug the DNC.
P. The point is, that is not true?
D. That's right.
P. Magruder did know it was going to take place?
D. Magruder gave the instructions to be back in the DNC.
P. He did?
P. You know that?
P. I see. O.K.[Page 316]“No One over here Knew That”
D. I honestly believe that no one over here knew that. I know that as God is my maker, I had no knowledge that they were going to do this.
P. Bob didn't either, or wouldn't have known that either. You are not the issue involved. Had Bob known, he would be.
D. Bob—I don't believe specifically knew that they were going in there.
P. I don't think so.
D. I don't think he did. I think he knew that there was a capacity to do this but he was not given the specific direction.
P. Did Strachan know?
D. I think Strachan did know.
P. (unintelligible) Going back into the DNC—Hunt, etc.—this is not understandable!
D. So—those people are in trouble as a result of the Grand Jury and the trial. Mitchell, of course, was never called during the trial. Now—
P. Mitchell has given a sworn statement, hasn't he?
D. Yes, Sir.
P. To the Jury?
D. To the Grand Jury.—
P. You mean the Goldberg arrangement?
D. We had an arrangement whereby he went down with several of them, because of the heat of this thing and the implications on the election, we made an arrangement where they could quietly go into the Department of Justice and have one of the assistant U.S. Attorneys take their testimony and then read it before the Grand Jury.
P. I thought Mitchell went.
D. That's right, Mitchell was actually called before the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury would not settle for less, because the jurors wanted him.
P. And he went?
D. And he went.
D. I don't know what he said. I have never seen a transcript of the Grand Jury. Now what has happened post June 17? I was under pretty clear instructions not to investigate this, but this could have been disastrous on the electorate if all hell had broken loose. I worked on a theory of containment—
D. To try to hold it right where it was.
D. There is no doubt that I was totally aware of what the Bureau was doing at all times. I was totally aware of what the Grand Jury was doing. I knew what witnesses were going to be called. I knew what they were asked, and I had to.
P. Why did [Assistant Attorney General Henry E.] Petersen play the game so straight with us?
D. Because Petersen is a soldier. He kept me informed. He told me when we had problems, where we had problems and the like. He believes in you and he believes in this Administration. This Administration has made him. I don't think he has done anything improper, but he did make sure that the investigation was narrowed down to the very, very fine criminal thing which was a break for us. There is no doubt about it.
P. Do you honestly feel that he did an adequate job?
D. They ran that investigation out to the fullest extent they could follow a lead and that was it.
P. But the way is, where I suppose he could be criticized for not doing an adequate job. Why didn't he call Haldeman? Why didn't he get a statement from Colson? Oh, they did get Colson!
D. That's right. But as based on their FBI interviews, there was no reason to follow up. There were no leads there. Colson said, “I have no knowledge of this” to the FBI. Strachan said, “I have no knowledge.” They didn't ask Strachan any questions about Watergate. They asked him about Segretti. They said, “what is your connection with Liddy?” Strachan just said, “Well, I met him over there.” They never really pressed him. Strachan appeared, as a result of some coaching, to be the dumbest paper pusher in the bowels of the White House.
P. I understand.
D. Alright. Now post June 17th: These guys immediately—It is very interesting. (Dean sort of chuckled) Liddy, for example, on the Friday before—I guess it was on the 15th, no, the 16th of June—had been in Henry Petersen's office with another member of my staff on campaign compliance problems. After the incident, he ran [Attorney General Richard G.] Kleindienst down at Burning Tree Country Club and told him “you've got to get my men out of jail.” Kleindienst said, “You get the hell out of here, kid. Whatever you have to say, just say to somebody else. Don't bother me.” But this has never come up. Liddy said if they all got counsel instantly and said we will ride this thing out. Alright, then they started making demands. “We have to have attorneys fees. We don't have any money ourselves, and you are asking us to take this through the election.” Alright, so arrangements were made through Mitchell, initiating it. And I was present in discussions where these guys had to be taken care of. Their attorneys fees had to be done. [Nixon personal attorney Herbert W.] Kalmbach was brought in. Kalmbach raised some cash.
P. They put that under the cover of a Cuban Committee, I suppose?
D. Well, they had a Cuban Committee and they had some of it was given to Hunt's lawyer, who in turn passed it out. You know, when Hunt's wife was flying to Chicago with $10,000 she was actually, I understand after the fact, now, was going to pass that money to one of the Cubans—to meet him in Chicago and pass it to somebody there.“Keep that Cover”
P. (unintelligible) but I would certain[ly] keep that cover for whatever it is worth.
D. That's the most troublesome post-thing because (1) Bob is involved in that; (2) John is involved in that; (3) I am [Page 317]involved in that; (4) Mitchell is involved in that. And that is an obstruction of justice.
P. In other words, the bad it does. You were taking care of witnesses. How did Bob get in it?
D. Well, they ran out of money over there. Bob had $350,000 in a safe over here that was really set aside for polling purposes. And there was no other source of money, so they came over and said you all have got to give us some money. I had to go to Bob and say, “Bob, they need some money over there.” He said “What for.” So I had to tell him what it was for because he wasn't just about to send money over there willy-nilly. And John was involved in those discussions. And then we decided there was no price too high to pay to let this thing blow up in front of the election.
P. I think we should be able to handle that issue pretty well. May be some lawsuits.
D. I think we can too. Here is what is happening right now. What sort of brings matters to the (unintelligible). One, this is going to be a continual blackmail operation by Hunt and Liddy and the Cubans. No doubt about it. And McCord [Watergate conspirator James W. McCord Jr.], who is another one involved. McCord has asked for nothing. McCord did ask to meet with somebody, with Jack Caulfield who is his old friend who had gotten him hired over there. And when Caulfield had him hired, he was a perfectly legitimate security man. And he wanted to talk about commutation, and things like that. And as you know Colson has talked indirectly to Hunt about commutation. All of these things are bad, in that they are problems, they are promises, they are commitments. They are the very sort of things that the Senate is going to be looking most for. I don't think they can find them, frankly.
P. Pretty hard.
D. Pretty hard. Damn hard. It's all cash.
P. Pretty hard I mean as far as the witnesses are concerned.
D. Alright, now, the blackmail is continuing. Hunt called one of lawyers from the Re-Election Committee on last Friday to leave it with him over the weekend. The guy came in to see me to give a message directly to me. From Hunt to me.
P. Is Hunt out on bail?
P. Is Hunt on bail?
D. Hunt is on bail. Correct. Hunt now is demanding another $72,000 for his own personal expenses; another $50,000 to pay attorneys fees; $120,000. Some (1) he wanted it as of the close of business yesterday. He said, “I am going to be sentenced on Friday, and I've got to get my financial affairs in order.” I told this fellow O'Brien [Paul L. O'Brien, an attorney for the Nixon re-election committee]. “If you want money, you came to the wrong man, fellow. I am not involved in the money. I don't know a thing about it. I can't help you. You better scramble about elsewhere.” O'Brien is a ball player. He carried tremendous water for us.
P. He isn't Hunt's lawyer?
D. No he is our lawyer at the Re-Election Committee.
P. I see.
D. So he is safe. There is no problem there. So it raises the whole question. Hunt has now made a direct threat against Ehrlichman. As a result of this, this is his blackmail. He says, “I will bring John Ehrlichman down to his knees and put him in jail. I have done enough seamy things for he and Krogh, they'll never survive it.”
P. Was he talking about Ellsberg?
D. Ellsberg, and apparently some other things. I don't know the full extent of it.
P. I don't know about anything else.
D. I don't know either, and I hate to learn some of these things. So that is that situation. Now, where are at the soft points? How many people know about this? Well, let me go one step further in this whole thing. The Cubans that were used in the Watergate were also the same Cubans that Hunt and Liddy used for this Californian Ellsberg thing, for the break in out there. So they are aware of that. How high their knowledge is, is something else. Hunt and Liddy, of course, are totally aware of it, of the fact that it is right out of the White House.
P. I don't know what the hell we did that for!
D. I don't know either.
P. What in the (expletive deleted) caused this? (unintelligible)
D. Mr. President, there have been a couple of things around here that I have gotten wind of. At one time there was a desire to do a second story job on the Brookings Institute where they had the Pentagon papers. Now I flew to California because I was told that John had instructed it and he said, “I really hadn't. It is a misimpression, but for (expletive deleted), turn it off.” So I did. I came back and turned it off. The risk is minimal and the [g]ain is fantastic. It is something with a (unintelligible) risk and no gain. It is just not worth it. But—who knows about all this now? You've got the Cubans’ lawyer, a man by the name of [Henry R.] Rothblatt, who is a no good, publicity seeking (characterization deleted), to be very frank with you. He has had to be pruned down and tuned off. He was canned by his own people because they didn't trust him. He didn't want them to plead guilty. He wants to represent them before the Senate. So F. Lee Bailey, who was a partner of one of the men representing McCord, got in and cooled Rothblatt down. So that means that F. Lee Bailey has knowledge. Hunt's lawyer, a man by the name of [William O.] Bittmann, who is an excellent criminal lawyer from the Democratic era of Bobby Kennedy, he's got knowledge.
P. He's got some knowledge?
D. Well, all the direct knowledge that Hunt and Liddy have, as well as all the hearsay they have. You have these two lawyers over at the Re-election Committee who did an investigation to find out the facts. Slowly, they got the whole picture. They are solid.
P. But they know?
D. But they know. You've got, then an awful lot of the principals involved who know. Some people's wives know. Mrs. [Page 318]Hunt was the savviest woman in the world. She had the whole picture together.
P. Did she?
D. Yes. Apparently, she was the pillar of strength in that family before the death.
P. Great sadness. As a matter of fact, there was a discussion with somebody about Hunt's problem on account of his wife and I said, of course commutation could be considered on the basis of his wife's death, and that is the only conversation I ever had in that light.
D. So that is it. That is the extent of the knowledge. So where are the soft spots on this? Well, first of all, there is the problem of the continued blackmail which will not only go on now, but it will go on while these people are in prison, and it will compound the obstruction of justice situation. It will cost money. It is dangerous. People around here are not pros at this sort of thing. This is the sort of thing Mafia people can do: washing money, getting clean money, and things like that. We just don't know about those things, because we are not criminals and not used to dealing in that business.
P. That's right.
D. It is a tough thing to know how to do.
P. Maybe it takes a gang to do that.
D. That's right. There is a real problem as to whether we could even do it. Plus there is a real problem in raising money. Mitchell has been working on raising some money. He is one of the ones with the most to lose. But there is no denying the fact that the White House, in Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Dean are involved in some of the early money decisions.
P. How much money do you need?
D. I would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next two years.
P. We could get that. On the money, if you need the money you could get that. You could get a million dollars. You could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten. It is not easy, but it could be done. But the question is who the hell would handle it? Any ideas on that?
D. That's right. Well, I think that is something that Mitchell ought to be charged with.
P. I would think so too.
D. And get some pros to help him.
P. Let me say there shouldn't be a lot of people running around getting money—
D. Well he's got one person doing it who I am sure is—
P. Who is that?
D. He has Fred LaRue [Frederick C. LaRue, a Nixon campaign aide] doing it. Now Fred started out going out trying to solicit money from all kinds of people.
D. I had learned about it, and I said, “(expletive deleted) It is just awful! Don't do it!” People are going to ask what the money is for. He has apparently talked to Tom Pappas [Thomas A. Pappas, a Nixon fund raiser].
P. I know.
D. And Pappas has agreed to come up with a sizeable amount, I gather.
P. What do you think? You don't need a million right away, but you need a million? Is that right?
D. That is right.
P. You need it in cash don't you? I am just thinking out loud here for a moment. Would you put that through the Cuban Committee:
P. It is going to be checks, cash money, etc. How if that ever comes out, are you going to handle it? Is the Cuban Committee an obstruction of justice, if they want to help?
D. Well they have priests in it.
P. Would that give a little bit of a cover?
D. That would give some for the Cubans and possibly Hunt. Then you've got Liddy. McCord is not accepting any money. So he is not a bought man right now.
P. OK. Go ahead.
D. Let me continue a little bit right here now. When I say this is a growing cancer, I say it for reasons like this. Bud Krogh, in his testimony before the Grand Jury, was forced to perjure himself. He is haunted by it. Bud said, “I have not had a pleasant day on my job.” He said, “I told my wife all about this. The curtain may ring down one of these days, and I may have to face the music, which I am perfectly willing to do.”
P. What did he perjure himself on, John?
D. Did he know the Cubans. He did.
P. He said he didn't?
D. That is right. They didn't press him hard.
P. He might be able to—I am just trying to think. Perjury is an awful hard rap to prove. If he could just say that I—well, go ahead.
D. Well, so that is one perjury. Mitchell and Magruder are potential perjurers. There is always the possibility of any one of these individuals blowing. Hunt. Liddy. Liddy is in jail right now, serving his time and having a good time right now, I think Liddy in his own bizarre way the strongest of all of them. So there is that possibility.
P. Your major guy to keep under control is Hunt?
D. That is right.
P. I think. Does he know a lot?
D. He knows so much. He could sink Chuck Colson. Apparently he is quite distressed with Colson. He thinks Colson has abandoned him. Colson was to meet with him when he was out there after, you know, he had left the White House. He met with him through his lawyer. Hunt raised the question he wanted money. Colson's lawyer told him Colson wasn't doing anything with money. Hunt took offense with that immediately, and felt Colson had abandoned him.
P. Just looking at the immediate problem, don't you think you have to handle Hunt's financial situation damn soon?
D. I think that is—I talked with Mitchell about that last night and—
P. It seems to me we have to keep the cap on the bottle that much, or we don't have any options.
D. That's right.
P. Either that or it all blows right now?
D. That's the question.
P. We have Hunt, Krogh. Well go ahead with the other ones.[Page 319]
D. Now we've got Kalmbach. Kalmbach received, at the close of the ‘68 campaign in January of 1969, he got a million $700,000 to be custodian for. That came down from New York, and was placed in safe deposit boxes here. Some other people were on the boxes. And ultimately, the money was taken out to California. Alright, there is knowledge of the fact that he did start with a million seven. Several people know this. Now since 1969, he has spent a good deal of this money and accounting for it is going to be very difficult for Herb. For example, he has spent close to $500,000 on private polling. That opens up a whole new thing. It is not illegal, but more of the same thing.[Page 320]