thumbnail of Summer Of Judgement: The Watergate Hearings; Part 2 of 2
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. . .. . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. John Dean had placed the president of the United States at the core of the Watergate conspiracy.
The committee searched for bits and pieces of evidence to confirm Dean's story or refuted. Within days, the committee would learn of evidence beyond its wildest dreams. But for the president, the only thing to do was to press the White House for Memoranda appointment calendars, anything that might help. The committee kept hoping for voluntary cooperation that would spare the country a constitutional confrontation over executive privilege. On July 12, the Watergate committee gathered in Senator Irvin's office at Senator Baker's suggestion Irvin telephoned the president personally to ask for his cooperation. So I called the president, and the president said you told me that he had just discovered he had a violent ammonia, and he'd have to go to the hospital. And he said, you're allowed to get me. And I said, we're not allowed to get anything except the truth, Mr. President. So the phone call to the president got them nothing.
Still, if senators held out hope that somehow Mr. Nixon would become more accommodating. So maybe I'm manufacturing optimism, but I think there is ground for it, and I'm going to persist in believing there's some way around this dilemma until the contrary is made clearly to appear. Meanwhile, the committee staff was working feverishly behind the scenes, interviewing White House employees who might be able to testify to the veracity of John Dean's story. And as we begin to look at those few people around the president, we discovered there were some that we'd never heard of before. For example, there was an obscure Air Force colonel named Alexander Butterfield, who apparently had been brought in by Alexander Hagg, somewhat earlier, just to be the kind of chief of staff, the man to control the gates. It was Friday the 13th of July. In front of the cameras in the caucus room, White House A. Richard Moore was testifying. In a stuffy office in the basement, three staff lawyers were interviewing Alexander Butterfield, as they did all potential witnesses before scheduling them for the hearing.
At one point, they asked Butterfield about a particular White House document that contained quotations of presidential conversations. I follow name Don Sanders, who was the Republican Minority Council. Don turned to him and said, you know, when Dean was testifying, Dean mentioned that at one point in his meetings with Nixon, the president went over in the corner and he lowered his voice, and Dean had an impression that the conversation might be recorded. Is it possible that Dean knew what he was talking about? Butterfield said, no, no, there's no way. And he picked up the document and he said, but, of course, that's where this came from. And he kind of looked at us and we nodded and he said, well, as I guess you know, the president records, all of his conversations are recorded. There are only four people who know this. Of course, it was one of those unique things where a chill runs up your spine. You know, that you've just heard something that could potentially change the course of history. Who knows what was on the tapes and who knows how?
I was across the street having a drink with Jim Squires, who's now the editor of the Chicago Tribune. And Don Sanders walked in and said that he wanted to see me, well, I knew Don had been in this interview. And I said, okay, and we stepped away from the table and he said, no, we better go outside. And I said, okay, so we went outside and it was getting dark. And he said, well, maybe we better go across the street. And I thought, maybe Don had been working too hard. This was getting a little bit silly. So we went across the street there and we got behind this big tree and Don looked around and said everything in the Oval Office apparently is on tape. And so, by that time, the others in the interview were, I'm sure, looking for some day. Just as I was about to leave is around 5.36 o'clock in the evening, the telephone in my office rang.
I had my briefcase pack that was just at the door and I answered it and there's Scott Armstrong's voice. And he said, Sam, can I come up to see you? Because I got something important, Scott always had something important, always something important. I said, Scott, can it wait? I promised Sarah that I'd come home early for dinner. He says, it's got to wait, Sam. He says, it's very important. I've got to come up. But we stormed upstairs and went into Sam Dasha's office and he came up with one of our other assistants and he was sweating. His eyes were wild. We said, Sam, the President recorded all of his conversations and when he was through, I was sitting there and gassed, because my God, I said, here we finally have the cooperation that we really needed for John Dean and I called Sarah and said, I'm going to be late and I called Sam Irvin, I remember. And I told Irvin what we had just learned. And I remember he just felt that it was the most remarkable bit of evidence that we could have found, quoted the King James version of the Bible, something to the effect that
the truth will always come out. You can't cover it up and we decided then that we had to get Butterfield in as a very next public witness. So we contacted Senator Baker and we decided, of course, that we need to get Butterfield on the end right away, Monday. So we spent the weekend preparing for that. Did you tell the White House before that Monday that this had been learned? Yeah. I called Fred Bazzart, who was counsel for the White House. So I called Fred to tell him that I thought that it would be a mistake if they weren't forthcoming, that it was going to be very significant and that from every direction that we were traveling in, those demands for those tapes are going to be made and that we needed to work together with each other on it and Fred kind of hedged a bit and I don't know
this day whether or not he knew about it when I called. We had brought Butterfield in the late morning and we'd stashed him in a house next to the Senate which was used for the offices of one of the committees. A number of the staff were with him and the press noticed that we had gone off with someone who they didn't recognize and they began to follow us with the usual camera crews and so forth. In fact I remember Leslie Stahl trying to flip up the tag on his briefcase to see who he was and where he was from. My name is Alexander Porter Butterfield. I am the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and there was a great deal of puzzle going about why the administrator of the FAA would be testifying. It's about to feel I understand you previously were employed by the White House. Is that correct? That's correct. I think if there was a moment in the conference room where you could hear the proverbial pen drop that was probably yet.
It's about to feel a year away of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President. I was aware of listening devices. Yes sir. The reporters were running out of the room and to the telephones. The impact was immediate. The committee promptly asked for the relevant tapes, mainly conversations between Dean and Nixon. A week later the answer came from the White House. The President would not release the tapes. This is a rather remarkable letter about the tapes. If you notice the President says he's heard the tapes of some of them and they sustained his position. But he says he's not going to let anybody else hear them or feel they might roll a different conclusion. Laughter in serious business. The committee announced that it was issuing a subpoena for the tapes. Not since the administration of Thomas Jefferson had Congress served a subpoena on a president.
I deeply regret that this situation has risen because I think that the Watergate crash leak is the greatest of crashing to this country has ever suffered. I used to think that the civil war of our country's greatest tragedy, but I do remember that there were some redeeming features in the civil war and that there was some spirit sacrifice and heroism displayed on both sides. I see no redeeming features in Watergate. President Nixon refused to honor the subpoena, citing executive privilege. The gauntlet was down. The constitutional confrontation could not be avoided. So a committee of Congress decided to take a president to court for the first time in history. The chair recognizes that there is no precedent for litigation of this nature.
But the reason it was no precedent for any litigation. And I think this litigation is essential if we are to determine whether the president is above the law. And whether the president is immune from all of the duties and responsibilities in matters of this kind which devolve upon all the other models who dwell in this land. I think most of us reach the conclusion almost about the same time that these tapes were very incriminating because if they were not, I think the president would have very happily released them. When the White House was willing to really go to the wall to prevent their disclosure, it didn't take a genius to realize what the situation basically was.
So it wasn't a matter anymore of protecting AIDS. There's only one person really left. The pressure on Richard Nixon increased. The special prosecutor brought a suit somewhere to the committees and the fight for the tapes shifted to Judge Sirica's courtroom. Here in the caucus room, the committee moved on to John Erlichman and HR Haldeman, the president's top assistants. They'd been forced to resign but they were still loyal, denying wrongdoing by the president or themselves. But as they gave their version of it all, they had to be aware of the ominous hovering tapes. Erlichman, the number two assistant at the White House, was brought into the Nixon camp by his former college roommate, the longtime Nixon aide, Bob Haldeman. In the 1968 campaign, he was the tour director, handling Nixon's public appearances. When they won the election, Erlichman had been a lawyer in Seattle, found himself named counsel to the president.
His efficiency caught Nixon's eye and soon he was made assistant to the president for domestic affairs. Brothers, a stickler for punctuality, he was second in power only to Haldeman. Together they built a wall around the president, protecting him from outsiders and monitoring staff contacts. When the investigation of Watergate closed in on them, Erlichman and Haldeman resigned on April 30, 1973. Erlichman was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in the grand jury. He served 18 months in prison, divorced and remarried, John Erlichman now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and has become a writer. He's the author of an autobiography and two novels. John Erlichman came with his jaw strutting out as saying, who are you to call me to account. I did everything for my president and my country and I was right. And he put the committee on the defense. The committee tried to pin Erlichman down on the subject of the plumbers, an investigative
unit set up by the Nixon White House to fix national security leaks. The plumbers existence had been secret. Their methods had included wiretapping and burglary. The committee wanted to know, hadn't their supervisor been John Erlichman? Did you assign a role to create in the White House a capability for intelligence gathering at any time? I don't know quite what you're getting at, if you're getting at the special unit and the problems of leaks. I don't know why you have to find out what I'm getting at if you just answered my question as I ask you. It's an obscure question to me. No, it's a simple question. The answer is no. Say no. The answer is yes, say yes. Would you restate the question for me, please? I said, did it come a time when you were asked to develop a capability in the White House for intelligence gathering? Intelligence gathering. The answer would be no. Did you ever, were you ever asked to set up a special unit in the White House for the
purpose of determining whether certain leaks had occurred in major national security areas? In point of fact, I was, and I'm strictly in terms of your question, I was not asked to set it up for you in at the beginning of the setting up of this piece I was, right? So there came a time when you were administering an investigative unit? Yes. Yes. In a literal sense, that's true. A literal sense? Yes, sir. But not an actual sense. Well, I am dueling with a professor. Not not not dueling with you, I'm just trying to get a... Professor, if you say actual, it's actual. One of the missions of the plumbers was to gather information on Daniel Ellsberg. He was the Defense Department consultant who leaked damaging official documents the so-called Pentagon papers to the newspapers in search of information to discredit him, the plumbers broke into the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.
You testified that the plumbers attempted to get the records of the psychiatrist in all that and they might someone, the CIA or somebody else, might develop a psychiatric profile to enable President Nixon to determine for himself, well, the Ellsberg was some kind of a cook, all the some time a foreign intelligence agent, isn't that what you told us? Well, I don't think it's question to President determining for himself, Mr. Chairman. I think this was an effort on the part of the special unit to do as they had done in other cases, subsequently, to determine where there were holes in the, either in the federal government itself or in the Rand Corporation or these outside units that would permit a person like Ellsberg and his co-conspirators, if there were any, to steal massive quantities
of top-secret documents and turn them over to the Russians. It is incumbent upon the President as the executive of this executive branch to satisfy himself that he has done everything possible to be sure that such a thing does not occur in the future, and in order to do that, he has to be in a position to know what happened here. I believe Congress set up the FBI to determine what was going on in this country, didn't it? Among other things, Mr. Chairman. It set up the CIA to determine what was going on in respect to foreign intelligence, didn't it? Yes, sir? Among other agencies. He set up the national security agency, didn't it? And the defense intelligence agency. And the defense intelligence agency? And the defense intelligence agency. And a number of other agencies. He didn't set up the plumbers, didn't it? Of course, the Congress doesn't do everything. No, the Congress has only one that's got legislative power, and I don't know anything in law that gave the president the power set up himself up what some people have called
a secret police name of the plumbers. Irvin was closing in on the basic question of Watergate, was the president above the law. Erlichman contended that the president had inherent power that went beyond the committee's notion of what the law and the Constitution allowed. He said he had inherent power to commit burglary. And while he said that Nixon denied, he'd authorize that, and while Erlichman said he hadn't authorized it, he did say he had inherent power to do that. And so Talbot did a fine job that Talbot's had enough sense of Talbot's had an uncanny capacity to go to the heart of a question. If the president could authorize a covert break-end, and you don't know exactly where that power would be limited, you don't think it could include murder. Well, the crimes beyond covert break-end do you? Oh, I don't know where the line is, Senator. Well, where is the chip on the chief executives in here at the power, is to where that
power begins and ends. Well, I'm certainly not a constitutional lawyer, Senator. Well, you remember when we were from law school, we studied the famous principle of law that came from England, and also as well known in this country. That no matter how humble a man's cottage is, and even the king of England can't enter without his consent, I'm afraid that's been considerably eroded over the years, hasn't it? Down in my country, we still think it's pretty legitimate principle of law. National security was the justification given for the plumber's activities. Chairman Ervin warned to know what could information from a psychiatrist's office have to do with national security. You don't blame that. Let's get down. By the rising, Dr. Elsberg's psychiatrist's office to get his opinion, his record of opinion, and all of these intellectual, psychological states of this patient is an attack by foreign policy.
But the foreign intelligence, that gives us was not had nothing to do with the opinion of Elsberg's psychiatrist about his intellectual or emotional or psychological state. How do you know that, Mr. Chairman? Well, because I can understand English languages by mother tongue. The committee then turned to the White House practice of spying on the private lives of political opponents. Do you mean to tell me in this committee that you consider private investigators going into sexual habits, drinking habits, domestic problems, and personal social activities as a proper subject for investigation during the course of a political campaign? Senator, I know of my own knowledge of incumbents in office who are not discharging their obligation to their constituents because of their drinking habits. And it distresses me very much, and there's kind of an unwritten law in the media
that that is not discussed. Now I think that is important for the American people to know, and if the only way that it can be brought out is through his opponent in a political campaign, then I think that opponent has an affirmative obligation to bring that forward. Well, now this is getting very interesting. Do you really want to bring the political system of the United States of our campaigns down to the level of what you're talking about right now? Well, I can see that this way, Senator, I know that in your situation, your lifestyles undoubtedly impeccable and there wouldn't be anything at issue like that. Oh, Saint Angel, let's take it out, Angel, but I'll tell you, I thought you'll learn. Believe me, I'm not, and I worry about you sick and people on the landscape here, maybe my standards are all haywire, and that everybody in the Congress ought to be immune from scrutiny on that subject.
But that just seems to me to be an indefensible position in your part. You think that we have no scrutiny around here, sir? You think we have no scrutiny about that? Well, in all candor, I mean, I got to know, I mean, that's count of them, I mean, they're all over here at this stage of the game, and they're here all the time, not just to hear you and I talk. If there's anything that is quite obvious in Washington, D.C., it's at every aspect of our lives, but just laterally, personally, in every way, the subject of the scrutiny of a free press. Throughout his testimony, Erlichman maintained he was innocent, despite John Dean's account of a criminal conspiracy in the White House with Erlichman right in the middle of it. You have maintained throughout that, in all of your service in the White House, especially in those activities evolving around the Watergate, you did no wrong, is that correct, sir? Yes, sir. That every act on your part was legal, proper, and ethical.
That's my belief, and I trust that's true. Erlichman's testimony had been marked by testy exchanges with the senators and vocal demonstrations from the audience. At the close of his testimony, Minority Council Thompson felt compelled to apologize to the witness for the treatment he'd received. It's not that you, Mr. Erlichman, are to be treated any better than any other witness, but you shouldn't be treated any worse. Nobody had been indicted. Nobody had been convicted. There had been no court proceedings. It was a political process and the broadest sense of the word at that time. And the sentiment of the committee and those in the conference room got so weighted on one side. I just wanted to state that out for the last few days of testimony have regretted the situation and finally personally embarrassing. Thank you, sir. After five days of testimony, John Erlichman had some last words on the comments of an earlier witness, a young, disillusioned former White House aide.
I could not close without commenting on Gordon Strong's answer of the other day to the question, do you have any advice for the young Americans who are expressing their disenchantment with government and the political process? Gordon said, stay away and your gallery laughed. But I don't think many other Americans laughed at that answer. I certainly didn't, nor do I agree with Gordon's advice. I hope they come and test their ideas and their convictions in this marketplace. I hope they do come and do better. But young Americans, if you come here, come with your eyes wide open. The next witness was the only man closer to Nixon than John Erlichman. Bob Haldeman, once Nixon's closest aid, came before the committee at a time when the president was confident he could hold on to the White House tapes. On the grounds, they were critical to national security. But Haldeman told the committee he'd listened to the tapes after leaving the White House.
This only increased the committee's resolve to get them. It provoked the senators that Haldeman had been given special access. And this point became the theme of his testimony. Bob Haldeman once described himself this way. Every president has his SOB, and I'm Richard Nixon's. As the White House chief of staff, he was the gatekeeper who decided which people and papers got to the president. A former advertising executive he joined Nixon's political staff early on in 1956. By the time of the 1968 campaign, he was very much in charge of the staff and access to Nixon. In the White House, Haldeman control the president's schedule and planned his own to monitor the presidents. At work, he was rarely more than a few feet from the Oval Office, if not in it. And he was on call at all hours. He was a hard man to know. Apparently, he felt little need to be liked even by those he worked with, and he wasn't like by many. Haldeman's German name, crew cut stern demeanor and remoteness, caused some observers to
snipe at him as a contemporary Prussian, or worse. He left the White House staff with Erlichman as the Watergate crisis mounted in the spring of 1973. After the hearings, Haldeman was convicted of conspiracy obstruction of justice and perjury for his part in the cover-up, and he served 18 months in prison. He now lives with his wife in Southern California, where he develops and sells real estate. His whole reputation was one who was the hunt, the guy who cracked the whip. He was a good public relations man, he was a good actor. He came in as a submissive, shared everybody, sweet, I mean, you couldn't be angry with him. President Nixon had no knowledge of, or involvement in, either the Watergate affair itself, or the subsequent efforts of a cover-up of the Watergate. It will be equally clear, despite all the unfounded allegations to the contrary, that I had no such knowledge, or involvement.
In Haldeman faced the committee, the existence of the White House tapes was known, but what they said was not. He told the committee that President had given him some of the tapes to take home and listen to after he became a private citizen. Haldeman was interpreting the tapes for the committee, and he said they proved John Dean's charges were false. The tapes Haldeman had taken home where the same ones the President had refused to give to the Senate committee and the special prosecutor. The same tapes that were supposed to be under Secret Service protections, the tapes Haldeman knew could bring down the administration. I'm sure you'll recall that in response to an inquiry, Mr. Butterfield testified that these tapes were in the exclusive custody of a Secret Service agent at all times. I don't recall that, but I'm sure that was his understanding. At the time that I took the tape home and then listened to it, the existence of the tapes
was not known to any one other than the limited people that Mr. Butterfield identified. It was not contemplated, I don't believe, that its existence would ever be known to people, and it was a request to review material for the President, which he knew I was familiar with, and concerning a meeting in which I had been in attendance. Although Haldeman had been the release of his due to Sir White House, the President mixed and let him take those tapes out and listen to it. I said, it's the correct thing that the President would let Haldeman have the tapes where he wouldn't let the committee and wouldn't let the American people. Are you suggesting that the special label of top-sequelists placed on these tapes after Mr. Butterfield made it known to us? The pride of that, it was all right for private citizens to have access to it. No, sir, I think that the access here was not in a capacity as private citizen, but in
a capacity as a former assistant to the President who was aware of the existence of the tape and had been present at the meeting and was able to review the tape for the President and report to him on its content. And when did you return to state? Well, as I told you, I had some other tapes and I think that I left the tape machine and the tape at my residence, that when I left the residence the next day, and who was in that house during the time? No one. My family had moved to California and there was nobody else using the residence at all. I knew assure this committee that no one else got hold of the tapes during that absence. I came to the best of my knowledge, Senator, I assure you of that, in the sense that the tapes, the machine and the tape itself were put in the suitcase and left in the closet of my study in my house.
This is the question that the people are asking. Is it possible that this tape during those 48 hours could have been doctor? I don't consider it to be possible. Even the minority council thought it was a mistake on the part of the President to have given the tapes to hold them in. Oh, I thought that was a stupid move, bad move, blunder, you know, to come up before the committee and before the public that way and say, we're not going to give you the tapes, but we're going to let one of our guys listen to them and tell you what it says. That's just rubbing the salt in everybody's wounds. Holdermann was questioned closely on his version of crucial meetings. In one conversation in the Oval Office, Nixon, Holdermann and Dean had discussed raising a million dollars to pay off the burglars and keep them quiet. Dean had testified that the President said we could do that. Holdermann insisted that the President added, but it would be wrong.
I want to test the accuracy of your recollection and the quality of your note-taking from those tapes. And referring to the last, the next to the last, now the third and the last sentence. On page two, the President said, there is no problem in raising a million dollars. We can do that, but it would be wrong. Now, if the period were to follow after we can do that, it would be a most damning statement. If in fact the tapes clearly show he said, but it would be wrong, it's entirely different context. Now, how sure are you, Mr. Holdermann, that those tapes in fact say that? I'm absolutely positive that the tapes you hear that with your own voice with my own ears, yes. With your own ears, was there any distortion in the quality of the tape in that respect? No, I don't believe so. When the tapes finally were made public, the conversation was not, as Holdermann had testified. He was later convicted of perjury on this point.
Would you be agreeable to bringing those tapes up here, those two tapes and playing them? Senator, you're asking me to take a position on a legal issue contrary to the position that they are perfectly free to keep you, confer with your counsel, if you wish. I'm not asking, would you ask the president to do it? I'm not asking if you think we violate the doctrine of separation of powers. I'm simply saying, with Bob Holdermann, a witness before this committee, be agreeable as an individual if we can otherwise procure the tapes to them being brought here and being played in public. Having been advised by counsel in their opinion, I'm not creating a legal problem by the answer that I would give and that I would want to give without even talking to counsel is that I would welcome that opportunity because they would confirm what I've told you. For three days of questioning, Holdermann maintained his innocence and protected the president.
Contrary to his reputation, he was generally mild and deferential. But there were times when he was provoked beyond his limit and you could feel a cold anger in the room. In light of the facts that are coming out, both you and I would agree that this went far beyond just a few men breaking into the water game. But rather, it's revealed, it's revealed a situation both within the committee to re-elect the president and within the White House, whereupon everything that was touched was corroded. No, sir, I will not in any way shape or form ever except that allegation or contention. After that hearing, it was the first time I got a call from my father and he turned to me and said, do you have any bodyguards or any other way that goes ahead and offers your protection?
I said, no, why? I said, I said, I've never seen so much hate in the man's face after your conclusion, including your questioning as was on the face of Holdermann. The real problem is that your definition is to who does a disservice to the country has always been far too broad a definition. The interest in Holdermann and the tapes reflected the mounting theme of the summer to pry the tapes away from the president. The courts would settle at. So in the fall, the committee moved on to another aspect of the investigation. The so-called dirty tricks committed against democratic contenders in the presidential campaign. The head of this enterprise was a young California lawyer, Donald Sagretti, who was recruited through a White House aide Dwight Chapin. Sagretti and his operatives used White House funds for activities like infiltrating democratic campaign offices, putting out false issue papers in the name of opposition candidates, and forging letters, accusing leading Democrats of sexual indiscretions.
Donald Sagretti and two of his assistants testified. Sagretti began by describing his meeting with Dwight Chapin. I met Mr. Chapin near the St. Clemente White House, and we went to a small restaurant in the local area. I was at this meeting that he indicated to you that you were to act in secrecy so that there would be no trace back to the Washington to the White House. That's correct. Now, did he also talk to you about the candidate you should spend most of your time on in terms of your political activities? Yes, or he did. Who was that candidate? That was Senator Muskeh. I'm being the good why. It's difficult to recall any exact conversation. This time out some time ago, but Senator Muskeh at that time was certainly the forerunner shall we say of likely prospects to run for the democratic nomination.
Collectively, I don't believe anybody has ever organized in the history of this country and spent the cons of money that they spent attempting to disrupt, to subvert, to infiltrate leading candidates for the president of the United States. I think you've also testified that you were aware, in fact, participated in sending out false letters on Mr. Muskeh's campaign station. That's correct. And you refer already to one of them. Now, there's one particular letter you refer to in your statement, which was especially scourless, and accused Senator Jackson and Senator Humphrey of serious accusations of sexual and drinking misconduct. I think in due respect to Senator Jackson and Senator Humphrey and Senator Muskeh against
whom this letter was used, that I would not be fair to read the actual language of the letter into the record. I agree, Mr. Dash, that that letter is untrue. I sincerely regret that any copies of that were sent out. Would you agree with me without my reading in the director to demonstrate this for the record that it was a, and especially vicious and scourless letter? I will agree that it was a scourless letter. Were you aware that it was unlawful to send salacious and libelous letters? I'm certainly aware of it now, you don't call, unfortunately, a lot of them have pranked to you. Senator, I don't call any of the things I did at this point in time pranks. I've stated many times before this committee today that they have no place in the American political system.
I don't believe there should be pranks as such, or dirty tricks, or however you want to term it in the American political system. Well, in the past half of your testimony that you did in effect forge several letters, that you, you uttered other labels, and I'm glad that you say, don't classify those things as pranks, or may have learned it tricks. Senator, it's really hard to draw the line between a lot of these things. It is not political prank to break and steal. It is no political prank to steal letterheads of some candidate and type scourless statements about a senator's alleged picodilos or sexual deficiencies and send those letters out as though it was sent out by the person whose name appeared on the letterhead.
Now, that's not dirty tricks. I can understand dirty pranks or dirty tricks or political pranks, or these went beyond that, what they were doing was a commission of crimes. One of Sigrades recruits Martin Kelly. It began with pranks, it started getting more and more intense. I was aware that some of the things that I was doing were not legal, I'd be lying if I told you otherwise. I knew some of them were illegal. I kind of just, I was just like in a, I was weaving my own spider web, I couldn't get out of it. I was in a hole too deep. Well, I noticed that towards the last, you were planning on creating a nude woman past musky headquarters and she was supposed to shout, musky, I love you. Well, that's not exactly the case, what it was, it was a girl that was hungry for money. She needed some money, so I told her that I didn't know her.
She was going to Gainesville where the university Florida is. I was told musky, Senator Musky was there. I gave her $20 or $10. I don't remember how much and asked her if she would, if I gave this to her, if she'd be willing to take off her clothes and run in front of his hotel, screaming, I love you, which, what she did, unfortunately, but she did. And you must have known her very well, again, unfortunately, no. Robert Benz, another of Sigrade's recruits, tried tangling with Senator Irvin. And I challenged you, or anybody else, to point out a single instance in the history of this nation where money donated to advanced political fortunes of our president was used with the consent of the president's assistance in the White House to spread the labels against candidates of the opposition political party.
Yes, there was a question mark after that. I think first, Senator, I'd answer that, could you tell me whenever a president has ever been investigated by the news media and by a committee as much as this one in the second Senator? Well, it's where were you in 1960 when it was accused that election was stolen? I was right here in the United States, and I never heard about any campaign being stolen on the incredible testimony of any individual. This is first time in the history of the United States. That's a center of the United States by a unanimous vote, has been so moved by reports all about. The Watergate hearings began to wind down as the president's part in Watergate became the central issue, and talk of impeachment was in the air.
What he said on the tapes was what everybody wanted to know. In the bitter struggle for the tapes, the president fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Rockles House. The new special prosecutor Leon Jaworski ultimately got the crucial tapes. The Watergate committee never did. The committee staff was eager to proceed with hearings on skull-duggery and campaign finance, but the senators concluded that the committee had had its day. After six months of public hearings, there would be a report that simply laid out the evidence and left the judgments to the courts in the impeachment process. The hearings themselves already had provided the most sweeping, compelling view of a political scandal in American history. Ironically, it must be mentioned that three members of the committee senators Montoya, Gerny and Talmadge later had ethical problems of their own. Congressional responsibility in the Watergate case moved to the Judiciary Committee of the
House, which would decide whether to recommend that President Nixon be impeached. The Judiciary Committee used the evidence from the Senate hearings, held hearings of its own, and studied a number of tapes that the White House had not withheld. In late July 1974, Chairman Peter Redino, a Democrat from New Jersey, opened the final debate before millions of Americans in the television audience. We have reached a moment when we are ready to debate resolutions, whether or not the committee on the Judiciary should recommend that the House of Representatives adopt articles calling for the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, make no mistake about it. This is a turning point, whatever we decide. The President's defenders were making their last arguments.
Charles Wiggins, a California Republican, felt that the Democrats were moving too fast, not giving enough attention to the evidence. But it would certainly not on my conscience if I had a preconceived notion about his impeachability prior to the receipt of evidence in this case. This was an occasion when obscure politicians rose above themselves in the glare of the impeachment debate. Few members of the House Committee were as famous as any senator. Few had reputations for statesmanship. Many were junior members of Congress identified with the concerns of provincial politics. But as the time-devote approached and the obscure politicians spoke out, there was an eloquence in them and a sense of the Constitution. This document is probably the world's best written exposition of free government. It is the document under which this country and its people have prospered from the founding
of this republic. We are here to make this Constitution a vital document for all of our people and to end the abuse of power, the obstruction of justice that has gone on to the detriment of constitutional government. The crucial Republican votes were shifting against the President. How well butler Virginia, conservative, who owed his election to Nixon, spoken sadness and in anger. In short, a power appears to have corrupted. It is a sad chapter in American history, but I cannot condone what I have heard, I cannot excuse it, and I cannot and will not stand still for it. If we fail to impeach, we have condoned and left unpunished, a course of conduct totally inconsistent with the reasonable expectations of the American people. Their flowers, a conservative Democrat from Alabama with an American flag in his lapel,
was in emotional pain, but he was going to vote for impeachment. I wake up nights, at least on those nights I have been able to go to sleep lately. Wondering if this could not be some sort of dream, impeached the President of the United States. But unfortunately, this is no bad dream. It is the terrible truth that will be upon us here in this committee in the next few days. Barbara Jordan, a Texas Democrat, spoke of the Constitution from a special perspective. Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. We, the people, it's a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the 17th of September in 1787, I was not included in that we, the people. I felt somehow, for many years, that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left
me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision, I have finally been included in we, the people. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is completed as total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. James Mann, a Democrat from South Carolina. It isn't the presidency that is in jeopardy from us. We would serve, we would strive to strengthen and protect the presidency. But if there be no accountability, another president will feel free to do as he chooses. But the next time there may be no watchmen in the night. On July 27, the Judiciary Committee voted on Article I of the Resolution of Impeachment
of Richard Nixon, all those in favor signify by saying I, all those opposed, no. Mr. Flour, I, Mr. Mann, I, Mr. Jordan, I, Mr. Wiggins, no, Mr. Butler, I, Mr. Hutchinson, no, Mr. Lott, no, Mr. Sarbanes, I, Mr. Rodino, I. 87 members of voted I, 11 members of voted no. And pursuant to the resolution, Article I, that resolution is adopted and will be reported to the House. Just before the Judiciary Committee voted, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the president must give up the tapes. On August 5, the crucial tape Nixon had withheld. The so-called smoking gun was public knowledge. It made clear that a week after the Watergate break-in, the president was participating
personally in the cover-up conspiracy. Richard Nixon was finished, and his friends in Congress went to the White House to tell him so. Even as defenders on the Judiciary Committee soon agreed that the president deserved to be removed from office. And on August 8, Richard Millhouse Nixon, 37th President of the United States, resigned. Therefore, I shall resign the presidency of factis that noon tomorrow. Vice President 4 will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office. The helicopter soon would take him away. He spoke to his staff one last time when you take some knocks, some disappointments. Then sadness comes, because only if you've been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.
Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself. And will, for the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and depend, preserve, protect, and defend Constitution of the United States. The Constitution of the United States will help me God. So help me God. Congratulations Mr. President. So it ended quietly without disorder, without disruption. But we still talk about what it meant to us then and what it means now. With me is Stephen Hess, a political scientist, a writer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He's a Republican. Before Watergate, Steve Hess wrote a biography of Richard Nixon that was not unsympathetic I would say. And in 1969 he worked in the Nixon White House.
He sat through part of the Watergate hearings as a commentator for public television. Welcome back, Steve. First let's watch you on television 10 years ago when you quit these hearings. I must admit, I haven't liked wallowing in this filth. I feel unclean even even listening. I don't think that many of these witnesses really understand what this country is all about, the differences and diversities and respect for each other that makes the country operate. I don't even like listening to myself talking about it. I sound like a moral prick. I'm mad at these people and I sound mean and I don't think of myself as a mean person. So tonight as I leave you I'm distressed and I'm burned out and I salute you for performing a very useful, though, distressing service and I wish you fortitude and a strong stomach. That was an emotional farewell, Steve. What were you reacting to in that clip? It's sort of eerie seeing yourself 10 years ago and being so very upset.
I tried to remember back what it had all been. And there I had been hour after hour, day after day listening to people like the Attorney General of the United States tell about how they had contemplated committing crimes. And remember I wasn't a professional Nixon hater. I was a card carrying Republican and after a while it simply got to me. I started to get nightmares for the first time in my life and about Watergate. And it bothered me. I felt that the institutions were being abused and then in a very personal sense that I was being abused. You did feel personal. Yes. Because with Richard Nixon I felt a very warm feeling. I had known him many years. I cared about the success of his administration. 10 years later is the disillusionment still there?
Well, again, that's a very personal thing. I don't think it's there for the people of the United States, but it's very much there for me. I, for example, had loved government service. I could hardly wait to get back into government when my party was in again. And I found personally that I haven't been able to go back into government except for a few weeks since. Let me ask you about Mr. Nixon. You wrote a biography of Richard Nixon. You worked for Richard Nixon in the White House. How did that man get into all this? Well, so this day I can't quite tell you. Richard Nixon was a remarkable man, is a remarkable man. And I certainly think that he had those tapes going because he wanted to be remembered in history. He had a sense of that. And the irony of it is that he is going to be probably the second most remembered American president after Franklin Roosevelt of the 20th century. He compartmentalized people.
And it was a shorthand he had. And I'm sure he thought of me, Pat Moynihan, Arthur Burns, Martin Anderson, as others as his intellectuals. And I know, for example, he never cursed in my presence when I heard the tapes. I couldn't believe that this was the same man that I knew. And clearly that's the way he dealt with a group of apparatics that he had around him. And those were not politicians, I think politicians understand politics in a way that the holdemons and the air lickmans who had come up through the mechanics of politics really didn't. Steve, most of the people involved in Watergate had never run for public office. They were campaign workers. Yes. And politicians, true politicians, as I understand them, I don't think would have produced a Watergate. They might not have, they might not be geniuses. But as the Speaker of the House, Uncle Joe Cannon used to say that they had their ears so close to the ground that they were full of grasshoppers. They understood that you don't get elected this way. Steve isn't there a positive legacy of Watergate, a more assertive Congress, a lot of
new election laws, more scrutiny by the press. Well, first of all, yes, there is a whole set of laws on the books that are there because of Watergate. I don't think that they always do exactly what they set out to do. All of these reformist laws have turned out to have side effects. They should have warned us, but we didn't know if we channel public money into politics one way is going to push private money out in some other way. We weren't smart enough perhaps, or perhaps we just can't legislate a morality. So that was one consequence of Watergate. But I think ultimately the greatest consequence of Watergate was the knowledge of Watergate. The knowledge of politicians know that a Watergate existed, that there was a press, that there were courts, that there were congressional committees, and they had best be very careful.
So it's not that they're more moral, but they are perhaps more honest because of Watergate. The most persistent question still asked about Watergate is also the most cynical. Isn't this the way politics is? Doesn't everybody do it? One answer is that some politicians sometimes do some of it, yes, too much of it. But there's no record of another instance when so many illegal things were done in such a concerted coordinated way, and by the people who were running the country at the time. Watergate didn't stop at break-ins and telephone taps and so-called dirty tricks. It included the decision in the White House to pay $400,000 in hush money to burglars to keep the truth from coming out. Then national security was invoked to keep that arrangement secret. It was about cynicism, a kind of contempt for politics, ruined Richard Nixon, a president of considerable accomplishment.
A lot of people went to jail for acting on the notion that everybody does it, that politics is a dark business where anything goes. Maybe these things have to go pretty far to stir us up, but there was a clear response to Watergate from Congress and the courts and from the people of the United States, sitting in judgment on the hearings held in this room. If our free institutions were vulnerable to cynical politics, they were also able to respond in the spirit of the Constitution. We can be proud of that. Thank you for joining us. And this conversation was to have the president tell me we had to end the matter now. Accordingly, I gave considerable thought to how I would present this situation to the president and try to make as dramatic a presentation as I could to tell him how serious I thought the situation was that the cover-up continued. I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency, and
if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately because it was growing more deadly every day. For a transcript of this program sends $7 to TR services, 2,000 mercantile building, Baltimore, Maryland, 2-1-2-01. This program was produced by WETA, which is solely responsible for its content. Summer of judgment, the Watergate hearings, was made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Thank you.
Program
Summer Of Judgement: The Watergate Hearings
Segment
Part 2 of 2
Producing Organization
Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.)
WETA-TV (Television station : Washington, D.C.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip-512-gm81j9840b
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Description
Program Description
"SUMMER OF JUDGMENT: THE WATERGATE HEARINGS is a two-hour retrospective. The story of these historic hearings is told primarily through actual testimony from the key witnesses. The testimony is interwoven with behind-the-scenes interviews from several of the Senators and staff members who served on the Committee, including its Chairman, Sam Ervin. "The program is anchored from the Senate Caucus Room by Charles McDowell, columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Commentary is deliberately kept to a minimum in order to allow the viewer to come to his own conclusions. "SUMMER OF JUDGMENT: THE WATERGATE HEARINGS is directed at a general audience. We were, however, especially mindful of the younger viewer, who might be seeing the material for the first time. We wanted him to come away from the program with a sense of what it felt like to live through those unprecedented times."--1983 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
1983-07-27
Asset type
Program
Subjects
Watergate Affair, 1972-1974; United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
01:01:21
Embed Code
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Credits
Associate Producer: Gamble, Joanna
Associate Producer: Ducat, Sue
Director: Sirianne, Mary Frances
Executive Producer: Winslow, Lindo
Host: McDowell, Charles
Producer: Green, Ricki
Producing Organization: Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.)
Producing Organization: WETA-TV (Television station : Washington, D.C.)
Production Unit: Clevinger, Jill
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-1f9ed17c91a (Filename)
Format: Betacam: SP
Duration: 01:16:28
WGBH
Identifier: cpb-aacip-8ae6824c198 (Filename)
Format: Super 16mm film
Generation: Original
Color: Color
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Citations
Chicago: “Summer Of Judgement: The Watergate Hearings; Part 2 of 2,” 1983-07-27, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-gm81j9840b.
MLA: “Summer Of Judgement: The Watergate Hearings; Part 2 of 2.” 1983-07-27. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-gm81j9840b>.
APA: Summer Of Judgement: The Watergate Hearings; Part 2 of 2. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-gm81j9840b