thumbnail of 1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-06-25; Part 6 of 6
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The Committee has been working against the clock to get Dean's prepared testimony completed a day the play the promise acronyms munro call vote on the senate floor so marilyn what the voters on confusing the summer recess was called our other senators continued they were not trying to hurry along when made by the seven convicted defendants and the sentencing of these individuals was not far off. It was during this conversation that Haldeman came into the office. After this brief interruption by Haldeman's coming in but while he was still there, I told the president about the fact there was no money to pay these individuals to meet their demands. He asked me how much it would cost. I told him I could only make an estimate that it might be as high as a million dollars or more. He told me that that was no problem. He also looked over at Haldeman and repeated the same statement. He then asked me who was demanding this money and I told him it was principally coming from Hunt through his attorney. The president then referred to the fact that Hunt had been promised executive clemency. He said that he had discussed this matter with Ehrlichman and contrary to instructions Ehrlichman had given Colson not to talk to the President
about it, that Colson had also discussed it with him later. He expressed some annoyance at the fact that Colson had also discussed this matter with him. The conversation then turned back to a question from the President regarding the money that was being paid the defendants. He asked me how this was done. I told him I didn't know much about it other than the fact that the money was laundered so it could not be traced and then there were secret deliveries. I told him I was learning about things I had never known before but the next time I would certainly be more knowledgeable. This common got a laugh out of Haldeman. The meeting ended on this note and there was no further discussion of the matter and it was left hanging just as I've described it. The meeting on March fourteenth. The meetings which occurred on this day principally involve preparing the President for a forthcoming press conference. I recall talking about executive privilege and making being a test case in the courts an executive privilege. The president said that if he- he would like very much to do this and if the opportunity came up in the press
conference he would probably so respond. I also recall that during the meetings which occurred on this day that the president was going to try to find an answer that would get Ziegler off the hook of the frequent questions asked him regarding the Watergate. He said that he was going to stay, or say that he would take no further questions on the Watergate until the completion of the Ervin hearing and Ziegler in turn could repeat the same statement and avoid further interrogation by the press on the subject. Meeting on March fifteenth. It was late in the afternoon, after the President's press conference, that he asked Dick Moore and I to come over to visit with him. He was in a very relaxed mood and entered into a gentle discussion about the press conference. The president was amazed and distressed that the press had paid so little attention to the fact that he had made a historic announcement about ambassador Bruce open up the liaison office in Peking. He said he was amazed when the first question following that announcement was regarding whether or not Dean would appear before the senate judiciary committee in connection with the
Gray hearings. The conversation then rambled into a discussion of the Hiss case and Mr. Moore discussed his memory of the president's handling of the case. Meeting on March sixteenth. This meeting was a discussion with Ziegler on how to follow up on a number of matters that arisen in the press conference the preceding day. Meeting on March seventeenth. This was St. Patrick's Day and the President was in a very good mood and very relaxed and we engaged in a rambling conversation with only some brief references to the Gray hearings and the problems that were then confronting the White House regarding the President's statement on executive privilege and his willingness to go to court on the matter. He opined that he did not think the senate would be dumb enough to go for the bait that he had given them but he is hopeful that they might. Meeting on March nineteenth. As best I recall this meeting was a rather rambling discussion regarding media problems in connection with the Gray hearings. As the discussion preceded I suggested that Mr. Moore might like to engage in this conversation with us. There was some discussion of Senator Ervin's appearance the preceding
Sunday on Face The Nation and whether or not it would be appropriate for me to respond to some of the points that were being made regarding my requested appearance before the senate judiciary committee. I told the president that I would work with Dick Moore in preparing a draft response. Meetings on March twentieth. The President had called me earlier that morning to tell me that I should work up a draft letter of response as a result of the discussions we'd had the preceding evening with Moore. I told him I was drafting a letter and he [cough] and he told me as soon as I had the letter prepared, that I should arrange to meet with him. Shortly after lunch, I took over a draft copy of the letter which I had developed with Mr. Moore and submitted a copy of that draft letter to the- and I've submitted a copy of that draft letter to the committee. The President read the draft and we discussed it. There was no resolution of the problem. He told me to talk with Ziegler. I told him that if I did this as a sworn statement, that I was
obviously redraft very carefully before I signed any affidavit on the letter. It was during the afternoon of March twentieth that I talked again with Dick Moore about this- about the entire cover up. I told Moore that there were new and more threatening demands for support money. I told him that Hunt had sent a message to me through Paul O'Brien that he wanted seventy two thousand dollars for living expenses and fifty thousand dollars for attorney's fees and if he did not receive it that week he would reconsider his options and have a lot to say about the seamy things he had done for Ehrlichman while at The White House. I told Moore that I had about reached the end of the line and was now in a position to deal with the President and the cover up. I did not discuss with Moore the fact that I discussed money and clemency with the President earlier. But I told him that I really didn't think the President understood all of the facts involved in Watergate and particularly the implications of those facts. I told him that the matter was continually compounding itself and I felt I had to lay the facts out for the President as
well as the implication of those facts. Moore encouraged me to do so. Phone conversation from the President on March twentieth. When the President called me and we had a rather rambling discussion, I told him at the conclusion of the conversation that evening that I wanted to talk with him as soon as possible about the Watergate matter because I did not think he fully realized all the facts and the implications of those facts for the people at the White House as well as himself. He said that I should meet with him the next morning about ten o'clock. Before going to tell the President some of these things, I decided I should call Haldeman because I knew that his name would come up in the matter. I called Haldeman and told him what I was going to do and Haldeman agreed that I should proceed to so inform the President of the situation. Meeting of March twenty first. As I have indicated, my purpose in requesting this meeting, particularly with the President, was that I felt it necessary that I give
him a full report of all the facts that I knew and explain to him what I believed to be the implications of those facts. It was my particular concern with the fact that the President did not seem to understand the implications of what was going on. For example, when I had earlier told him that I thought I was involved in an obstruction of justice situation, he had argued with me to the contrary after I'd explained it to him. Also, when the matter of money demands had come up previously, he had very nonchalantly told me that that was no problem. I did not know if he realized that he himself could be getting involved in an obstruction of justice by having promised clemency to Hunt. What I had hoped to do in 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 continue. 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. I then gave him what I told him would be a broad overview of the situation and I would come back and fill in details and answer any questions he might have about the matter. I proceeded to tell him how the matter had commencement in late January, early February but that I did not know how the plans had been finally approved. I told him that I had informed Haldeman what was occurring and Haldeman told me that I should have nothing to do with it. I told him that I had learned that there had been pressure from Colson on Magruder but I did not have all the facts as to the degree of the pressure. I told him I did not know if Mitchell had approved the plans but I had been told that Mitchell had been a recipient of wiretap information and Haldeman had also receive some information through strong. He then proceeded to- I then proceeded to
tell him some of the highlights that had occurred during the cover up. I told him that Kalmbach had been used to raise funds to pay these seven individuals for their silence at the instructions of Ehrlichman. Haldeman, Mitchell and I had been the conveyor's, the conveyor of this instruction to Kalmbach. I told him that after this the decision had been made that Magruder was remain at the reelection committee. I had assisted Magruder in preparing his false story for presentation to the grand jury. I told him that cash that had been at the White House had been funneled back to the reelection committee for the purpose of paying the seven individuals to remain silent. I then proceeded to tell him that perjury had been committed and for this cover up to continue would require more perjury and more money. I told him that the demands of the convicted individuals continually increasing and that with sentencing imminent the demands had become specific. I told him that on Monday the nineteenth I had received a message from one of the
reelection committee lawyers who had spoken directly with Hunt and that Hunt had sent a message to me demanding money. I then explained to him that the message that Hunt had been, had told O'Brien the preceding friday to be passed on to me. I told the President I'd ask O'Brien why to Dean and O'Brien would ask Hunt the same question. But Hunt had merely said you just pass this message on to Dean. The message was that Hunt wanted seventy two thousand dollars for living expenses and fifty thousand dollars for attorney's fees and if he did not get the money and get it quickly that he would have a lot of seamy things to say about what he'd done for John Ehrlichman while he was at the White House. If he did not receive the money he would have to reconsider his options. I informed the President that I had passed this message to both Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Ehrlichman asked me if I discussed the matter with Mitchell. I told Ehrlichman that I had not done so and Ehrlichman asked me to do so. I told the President I had called Mitchell pursuing Ehrlichman's request but I had no idea of what was happening regarding the request. I then told the
President that this was just typical of the type of blackmail that the White House would continue to be subjected to and I did not know how to deal with it. I also told the President that I thought that I would be ca- I thought that I would, as a result of my name coming out during the Gray hearings, be called before the grand jury and if I was called to testify before the grand jury or the senate committee I would have to tell the facts the way I knew them. I said I did not know if executive privilege would be applicable to any appearances I might have before the grand jury. I concluded by saying that this is going to take continued perjury and continued support of these innovations to perpetuate the cover up and I did not believe it was possible to so continue it. Rather, I thought it was time for surgery of the cancer itself and that all those involved must stand up and account for themselves and that the President himself get out in front of this matter. I told the President that I did not believe that all seven defendants would maintain their silence forever, in fact, I thought that one or more would very likely break rank. After I finished I realized I
had not really made the President understand because he asked me a few questions and he discussed that it would be an excellent idea if I gave some sort of briefing to the cabinet and that he was very impressed with my knowledge of the circumstances but did not seem to be concerned with their implications. It was after my presentation to the President and during our subsequent conversation the President called Haldeman into the office and the President suggested that we have a meeting with Mitchell, Haldeman and Ehrlichman discuss how to deal with the situation. What emerged from that discussion after Haldeman came into the office was that John Mitchell should account for himself for the pre-June seventeenth activities and the president did not seem concerned about the activities which had occurred after June seventeenth. I after I departed the President's office I subsequently went to a meeting with Haldeman and Ehrlichman to discuss the matter further. The sum and substance of that discussion was the way to handle this now was for Mitchell to step forward and if Mitchell were to step forward we might not be confronted with the activities of those involved in the White House in the cover up. Accordingly Haldeman as I
recall called Mitchell and asked him to come down the next day for a meeting with the President on the Watergate matter. In the late afternoon of march twenty first, Haldeman and Ehrlichman and I had a second meeting with a president. Before entering this meeting I had a brief discussion in the president's outer office of the executive office building suite with Haldeman in which I told him that we now had two options. One is that this thing goes all away and deals with both pre and post activities or the second alternative if the cover up was to proceed we would have to draw the wagons around in a circle around the white house and the white house protect itself. I told Haldeman it had been the White House assistance to the reelection committee that had gotten us into much of this problem and now the only hope would be to protect ourselves from further involvement. [Silence] The meeting with the President that afternoon with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and myself was a tremendous disappointment to me because it was quite clear the
cover up as far as the White House was concerned was going to continue. I recall that while Haldeman, Ehrlichman and I were sitting at a small table in front of the President in his executive office building office that I, for the first time, said in front of the president that I thought that Halderman Ehrlichman and Dean were all indictable for instruction of- obstruction of justice and that was the reason I was disagreeing with all what was being discussed that point in time. I could tell that both Haldeman and particularly Ehrlichman were very unhappy with my comment. I had let them very clearly know that I was not going to participate in the matter any further and I thought it was time that everybody start thinking about telling the truth. I again repeated to them that I did not think it was possible to perpetuate the cover up and the important thing now was to get the President out in front. Meeting on March twenty second. The arrangements had been made to have a meeting after lunch with the President with Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Mitchell
and myself. Mr. Mitchell came to Washington that morning for a meeting in Haldeman office in which Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Haldeman and myself were present. I recall that one of the first things that Ehrlichman asked Mitchell was whether Hunt's money problem had been taken care of. Mitchell said that he didn't think it was a problem any further. It then followed a gentle discussion of the status of the senate hearings and the discussion never got down to specifics. It been my impression that Halderman and Ehrlichman were going to try to get Mitchell to come forward and explain his involvement in the matter. This did not occur. Mitchell said that he thought that everything was going along very well with the exception of the posture of the President on executive privilege. He said that he felt that the president was going to have to back down somewhat [cough] somewhat or it would appear he was preventing information from coming out of the White House. I recall that Ehrlicman left the meeting before it had terminated because he was going to meet Secretary Shultz who was coming in from out of the country. I also recall- I was also called out of the
meeting about noon time when a message was sent to me by Mr. Ziegler that it was important he see me immediately. This had to do with a statement that was running on the wires that Gray had said that I had probably lied and Ziegler wanted to know how to handle it. Accordingly I departed the meeting and went to a meeting with Ziegler and Moore to discuss Gray's comment. I returned to Haldeman's office where Mitchell, Haldeman and I had lunch. During lunch there was some continued conversation about the general problems. Mr. Mitchell raised the fact F. Lee Bailey who had been very helpful in dealing with McCord had a problem that he would like to bring up. He said that Mr. Bailey had a client who had an enormous amount of gold in his possession and would like to make an arrangement with the government where by the gold could be turned over to the government without the individual being prosecuted for holding the gold. Mitchell was addressing his request for assistance to Haldeman but Haldeman was non responsive and the matter was dropped. I again departed Mr. Haldeman's office to have further dealings with Mr. Moore and Mr. Ziegler and Haldeman told me that there would be a meeting in the president's executive office building
office about one thirty and I should come directly from Ziegler's office when I got my problem worked out regarding Gray's statement. I arrived about one thirty in the president's office but the president was not ready to hold a meeting yet. The meeting with the President, Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Mitchell and me was again a general discussion of the senate watergate hearings situation and did not accomplish anything. Rather it was a further indication that there would be no effort to stop the cover up from continuing. I recall that Mitchell told the President that he felt that the only problem he now had was the fact that he was taking a public beating on his posture on executive privilege. That the statement on executive privilege was too broad and probably something should be done to change his posture on the matter. Mitchell was not suggesting that members of the White House staff go to the Hill to testify, rather some more cooperative position be developed to avoid adverse publicity. It was at this time that the President said that Kleindienst was supposed to be working these things out with Senator Baker and he apparently
had not been doing so. The President said that Timmons had told him that a member of Senator Baker's staff was very desirous of a meeting to get guidance. It was at that point the President called the Attorney General and told him that he should get up and meet with Senator Baker as soon as possible and get some of these problems regarding executive privilege and the turning of documents over resolved with the Committee immediately. After the conversation with the Attorney General there was a continuing discussion on how to deal with the Ervin Committee. I asked the President to excuse me from the meeting for a moment because I was working with Ziegler on a response to the statement that Gray had made. The President asked me what that -- what that was about and I then explained to him about Gray's statement, I told him what Gray had said and also told him what the facts were. He excused me, to use a telephone in his office and said I should get that resolved as quickly as possible. When I returned to the conversation with the President, Mitchell, Halderman, and Ehrlichman they were still talking about dealing with the Irvin Committee. The President told
me that the White House should start directly dealing with the Committee and that I should go up and commence discussions with Senator Irvin as to the parameters of executive privilege. I told the President I did not think it would be wise because I was very much a party at issue with regard to the Judiciary Committee hearing, and it would be very unwise for me to go to the Hill and negotiate my own situation. The President agreed and Ehrlichman said that he would commence discussions. The meeting was almost exclusively on the subject of how the White House should posture itself vis-a-vis the Irvin Committee hearings. There was absolutely no indication of any changed attitude and it was like one of many many meetings I had been in before in which the talk was of strategies for dealing with the hearings rather than any effort to get the truth out as to what had happened before June seventeenth and after June seventeenth. Following this meeting with the President it was apparent to me that I had failed in turning the President around on this subject, but Ehrlichman and Haldeman began taking over with regard to dealing with a new problem, which had become John Dean, as they were aware of the fact that I was very unhappy about the situation.
On Friday morning, March twenty-third, my house was surrounded by camera crews as result of Gray's statement the day before that I had probably lied. Accordingly, I decided to wait until the camera crews departed before going to the office. It was midmorning when Paul O'Brien called to tell me about Judge Sirica's reading McCord's letter in open court. O'Brien gave me the high points of the letter as they had been reported to him by someone from the courthouse. He also told me that McCord had only hearsay knowledge. I then called Ehrlichman to tell him about it. He said he had a copy of the letter and read it to me. I asked him how he'd received a copy of a letter so quickly. He responded, "It just came floating into my office." He asked me what Ithought about it and I told him that I wasn't surprised at all and repeated to him what O'Brien had told me, that McCord probably had only hearsay knowledge. He asked me if I was in my office and I informed him that I was a prisoner of the press and would be in shortly.
After my conversation with Ehrlichman, the President called. Referring to our meeting on March twenty-first, and the McCord letter, he said, "Well John, you were right in your prediction." He then suggested I go up to Camp David and analyze the situation. He did not instruct me to write a report, rather he said go to Camp David, take your wife, and get some relaxation. He then alluded to the fact that that he'd been under... [inaudible off-mic from Sen. Ervin] ...assist because I've got this... five minutes... [Jim Lehrer, voiceover] The Committee has been working against the clock to get Dean's prepared testimony completed today. The problem this afternoon has been roll call votes on the Senate floor. Senator Ervin left to vote at this point, confusing Dean, who thought a recess was called. However, other Senators continued to run the hearing. I've been under some rather intense
public pressure lately but that he'd been through this all of his life, you can't let it get to you. He said that he was able to do his best thinking at Camp David and I should get some rest and then assess where we are and where we go from here and report back to him. I told him I would go. My wife and I arrived at Camp David in midafternoon. As we entered the cabin in which we were staying, the phone was ringing. The operator said it was the President calling, but Haldeman came on the phone. Haldeman said that while I was there I should spend some time writing a report on everything I knew about the Watergate. I said I would do so. I asked him if it was for internal use or public use. He said that would be decided later. I spent the rest of the day and the next day thinking about this entire matter. I reached the conclusion, based on earlier conversations I'd had with Ehrlichman, that he would never admit to his involvement in the coverup. I didn't know about Haldeman, but I assumed that he would not because he would believe a higher duty to protect the President. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I should step forward because there
was no way the situation was going to get better, rather it could only get worse. My most difficult problem was how to end this mess without mortally wounding the President. I had no answer because I felt that once I came forward, the matter would be for the American people to decide and not for me to decide. I finally concluded that I would have to think of some way for the President to get out in front of this matter despite what happened to everybody else. I called Mr. Moore and talked with him about it. We talked about a Presidential speech where the President would really lay the facts out. We talked about immunity for everyone involved, we talked about a special Warren-type Commission that would put the facts out, we talked about some half-measures that might satisfy the public interest But we both realized that nothing less than the truth would sell. As i mentioned earlier. Moore and I had talked about some of these concepts on previous occasions but we still did not have an answer that would bring the full truth out because of the criminal
implications of the behavior of those involved. On Saturday I began reconstructing all I knew and began writing a report. I spent Saturday afternoon and evening Sunday and Monday reconstructing and writing. On Monday I asked my secretary to come to Camp David and bring certain documents that I had requested and commence typing. I did not realize how difficult it would be to reconstruct my knowledge from memory. I had not kept a diary or even a calendar of all my activities. Thus I have been reconstructing my knowledge of this matter from March twenty-third to this day. On sunday evening March twenty-fifth, I was informed that the LA Times and the Washington Post were going to print a story that Magruder and I had prior knowledge of the June seventeenth bugging of the Democratic National Committee. I considered the story libelous then as I do today. Upon learning the story was going to be printed, I contacted an attorney, Mr. Tom Hogan, who was familiar with libel law. We discussed the matter. He then decided to put the newspapers on notice to preserve a libel suit in the event they printed the story. I
also told Mr. Hogan that when I returned from Camp David, that I wanted to talk with him about the entire matter and ask him to think about someone who is a good criminal lawyer because I was planning to take certain steps in the near future. I might add that was my thinking at that time that I would explain all the facts to a knowledgeable criminal lawyer to determine the potential problems of everyone involved, from the President on down, to get independent advice on what I should do. On Monday morning March twenty-sixth, I had a conversation with Haldeman about the story in the LA Times. I told him I was prepared to file a libel suit and had retained a lawyer to put the newspapers on notice. I told him that he knew that I had not known of the June seventeenth Watergate break-in in advance, that my knowledge of the entire matter ended with the second meeting in Mitchell's office. I told Haldeman that Magruder knew that I had no prior knowledge, but I didn't know if he would make it public. Haldeman concurred in the fact that I had no prior knowledge and suggested I call Magruder and tape this conversation. I did call
Magruder and by using a Dictaphone held to the receiver, I recorded the call. I've submitted a transcript of this conversation to the Committee, Exhibit Number thirty-six, the long and short of the conversation was that Magruder acknowledged that newspaper accounts were a bum rap for me because I had not had prior knowledge of the break-in. My secretary arrived at Camp David on Monday afternoon and began typing the report. On Monday night I'd given additional thought to how the President might get out in front of this matter and how we could get everyone involved to speak the truth. I called Moore who is fairly conservative in... conservative in his solution to problems and told him of my idea which I said was so far out that I thought it might solve the awful problem. I have submitted to the Committee, Exhibit Number thirty seven, a copy of my notes outlining my concept. In brief, the President would create an independent panel that would be investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury for everyone involved. It would have had, it would have the power to remove officials from office, levy fines, and impose criminal sanctions.
It was designed to give every man a fair and full hearing, and proceed in a manner where people would not be tried publicly. Finally, after all the facts were in, the panel would render its judgment on the individuals involved, and report to the public. I might note that if the Special Prosecutor and this Committee were merged, made independent, and proceeded in camera, it would be very close to the concept I proposed back on March twenty- sixth. Moore liked the idea and suggested I call Haldeman, which I did. He was intrigued, but not overwhelmed. It was becoming increasingly clear that no one involved was willing to stand up and account for themselves. After I had read the newspaper on Tuesday March twenty-seventh, the President had called me on Monday morning, March twenty-sixth, which he hadn't and expressed great confidence in me and the fact that I had not had prior knowledge of the break-in at the Democratic National Committee. I decided to attempt to contact Mr. Liddy, who was the one man who could document the fact that we had never talked about his plans following the February fourth meeting in
Mitchell's office. I called Paul O'Brien and asked him how I could get in contact with Mr. Maroulis, Mr. Liddy's attorney. O'Brien gave me Maroulis's phone number but told me I could not reach him until late in the afternoon. I called Mr. Maroulis at about five thirty and asked him if i might get some sort of sworn statement from Liddy regarding my lack of prior knowledge of the break-in at the Democratic National Committee. I told him of the two meetings in Mitchell's office, and that Mr. Liddy and I had never talked about his plans after the second meeting. To this day I'm convinced that if and when Mr. Liddy ever talks, he will tell the truth as he knows it. I was hopeful that he would give me some sort of affidavit attesting to the facts, but his lawyer was concerned about his Fifth Amendment problems. Mr. Maroulis called me back on March twenty-ninth after I had returned from Camp David, after he had talked with Mr. Liddy. I requested O'Brien make a memorandum of the call as he was with Mr. Maroulis when he made the call. I've submitted to the Committee a copy of this document, Exhibit Number thirty-eight, in which Maroulis
advised me his client could not make such a statement because it might result in a waiver of his Fifth Amendment privileges, that to give such a statement could be detrimental to others but that he did wish to convey that his reason for not providing such a statement was not because he disagreed with the facts but because of the advice of counsel. It was the day before I'd received this call, March twenty-eighth, that Haldeman had called me at Camp David and requested that I return to Washington. He told me that there was a meeting, that he was meeting with Mitchell and Magruder, and that they wished to meet with me. I told Haldeman that I really did not wish to meet with Mitchell and Magruder but he was insistent that I return and meet with them. I returned from Camp David about three thirty and went directly to Haldeman's office. He told me that Mitchell and Magruder were waiting in another office for me. I asked him why they wanted to talk to me and he said that they wanted to talk to me about my knowledge of the meetings in Mitchell's office. I told Haldeman that they were both aware of the situation and I wasn't going to lie if asked about those meetings. Haldeman said that he didn't want to get into it, but I should go in and work it out with Mitchell
and Magruder. Before discussing the meeting with Mitchell and Magruder, I feel I should comment on my reaction to the discussion I had just had with Mr. Haldeman. Knowing how freely and openly we had discussed these matters in the past, I could tell that he was backpedaling fast, that he was now in the process of uninvolving himself but keeping others involved. This was a clear sign to me that Mr. Haldeman was not going to come forward and help end this problem; rather, he was beginning to protect his flanks. It was my reaction to this meeting with Mr. Haldeman and the evident changed attitude and my earlier dealings with Ehrlichman where we... where he had told me how I should handle various areas of my testimony should I be called before the grand jury, that made me decide not to turn over to them the report that written at Camp David. I have submitted to the Committee a copy of the Camp David report, Exhibit thirty-nine, part of which was typed by my
secretary at Camp David, the remainder in longhand, which I had not put in final narrative form because I was called back to Washington. After departing Mr. Haldeman's office, I went to meet Mitchell and Magruder. After an exchange of pleasantries they told me they wished to talk to me about how I would handle any testimonial appearances regarding the January twenty-seventh and February fourth meetings, which had occurred in Mitchell's office. I told them that we had been through this before and they knew well my understanding of the facts as they occurred at the time. Mitchell indicated that if I so testified, it could cause problems. Magruder then raised the fact that I had previously agreed in an earlier meeting that I would follow the testimonial approach that they had taken before the grand jury. I told them I recalled the meeting. Magruder then said it had been I who had suggested at the meetings be treated as dealing exclusively with the election laws and that explained my presence. At this point in time I decided I did not wish to get into a debate regarding that meeting. They
both repeated to me that if I testified other than I, other than they had, it would only cause problems. I said I understood that. I told them that there was no certainty that I would be called before the grand jury or the Senate Committee, and if I were called, I might invoke executive privilege, so the question of my testimony was still moot. I did not want, I did not want to discuss the subject further so i tried to move them off of it. But they were obviously both disappointed that I was being reluctant in agreeing to continue to perpetuate their earlier testimony. The only other matter of substance that came up during that meeting was when I made the point that I, I had never asked Mitchell about his involvement in the matter and I had no intentions of asking him at that time. I said... I said to this day I do not fully understand how the Liddy plan got into operation, can only speculate based on the tidbits of information I know. I then offered my hypothesis of what had happened; that is, that at some point after the second meeting in Mitchell's office, there had been pressure
put on to get the plan approved, it had been approved without anyone really understanding its full import. Mitchell said something to the effect that my theory was not far from wrong, only they thought it would be three or four times removed from the Committee. The meeting terminated shortly thereafter. It was not a lengthy meeting, as far as Magruder and Mitchell were concerned, it was certainly less than satisfactory for them. On either March twenty-eighth or twenty-ninth, Mr. Krogh came to my office because he happened to be in the Executive Office Building. He said he had come to express sympathy for me as a result of the adverse publicity I had received during the Gray hearings. He then began telling me that he had not himself had a good day since his own confirmation hearings may have been haunted by his experiences at the White House. I told Krogh that I thought that it was a very likely possibility the Senate Watergate Committee could stumble into the Ellsberg burglary. I told him that there were documents in the possession of the Justice Department which had been provided by the CIA in
connection with the Watergate investigation which contained pictures of Liddy standing in front of Ellsberg's doctor's office in california. I told him that I had learned from the CIA that the pictures had been left in a camera returned by Hunt to the CIA and the CIA developed the pictures. I said I did not believe that the Justice Department knew what pictures were all about but that any investigator worth his salt would probably track down the incident as a result of the pictures. I told him that Ehrlichman had requested that I retrieve the documents from the Justice Department and get them back to the CIA where they might be withheld from the Committee investigators, but the CIA had been unwilling to do so. Krogh was very distressed to hear this news, but said that maybe it was best, in that he had been personally haunted by the incident for so long that he would like to get it out in the open. We then entered into a discussion about the incident and I asked him if he had received his authorization to proceed with the burglary from Ehlrichman, knowing well that Krogh would not undertake such a mission himself. Krogh responded that no, he said... Krogh
responded that no, he did not believe that Ehrlichman had been aware of the incident until shortly after it had occurred; rather that he had received his orders right out of the Oval Office. I was so surprised to hear that, I said, "You must be kidding." He repeated again that he received his instructions out of the Oval Office. Mr. Krogh also indicated to me that he thought he might have perjured himself during the confirmation hearings and was very bothered by that. He said that he thought that he had been asked some questions about the Cubans that he probably could've answered but was afraid to open up the whole area of the Plumbers' operations, so he did not properly answer the question. He had never really studied his transcript to determine if he had or had not perjured himself, but was concerned about it. I told him there might be a possible solution to this problem if there was some way we could get him immunized on a national security basis and get the matter out in the open on that basis or some sort of procedure that would remedy his plight. I said I did not have anything specific in mind but it was something that we might talk about, talk to Henry Peterson about sometime in the
future. Shortly after Krogh left my office, I had a call from Ehrlichman, who told me that Krogh had been in to see him about the matters we had just talked about. He said he was convinced that Krogh had not perjured himself, but he requested that I call Peterson to explore how we might deal with Krogh's situation. I told Ehrlichman that I did not think it was an appropriate time to call right now, but that maybe we could call in the near future, before the Senate Committee came across the documents and the Justice Department, uh... in, at the Justice Department that would unravel the entire matter. I never called Peterson on this matter. Following my meeting with Mitchell and Magruder on March twenty-eighth, I realized that I was under pressure from both within the White House and without to either not testify or falsely testify. I'd earlier discussed with Ehrlichman that if i was called upon to testify that I would probably be asked questions about the Dean investigation, my
dealings with the FBI, the handlings of the material in Hunt's safe, and the like. I recall testing Ehrlichman's reaction to my testimony and got the result I expected. He asked me for example of a problem area. I then told him that I would probably have to explain the delay of turning over materials to the FBI from Hunt's office. I said that the reason that I had delayed was because of his instruction that I deep-six and shred the evidence. Ehrlichman told me that he didn't think that I would have to explain the delay that way, rather I could say that I was making an inventory. I told him that I had not made an inventory, and he said, "Well, I'm sure you can think of something." I have mentioned that I received what I considered an indication from Haldeman when I had met with him regarding Magruder and Mitchell's meeting on the twenty-eighth and that he was protecting himself. I also realized that when Ehrlichman called me after the conversation with Krogh that he was trying to tell me that what Krogh had earlier told me might not be correct and I felt that he was somewhat unhappy that Krogh had given me the
information he had. By March twenty-ninth, Ehrlichman and Haldeman fully realized that I was not playing ball and in fact could present a serious problem to them. It was also evident to me that they were doing everything they could to protect themselves against my knowledge. I had been in continuous contact since March twenty-fifth with my attorney, Thomas Hogan, regarding whom he felt was the best available man in the criminal law field that I might discuss this entire matter with. We talked on several occasions about Charles Shaffer, whom I met several years ago and regarded highly as a criminal lawyer. On March twenty-eighth and twenty- ninth, however, I made several other calls to friends to ask them for suggested names of knowledgable criminal lawyers, but decided on March thirtieth that I would retain Mr. Shaffer, if I... if he were available. Mr. Hogan informed me that he was and we arranged to meet with him. The President, along with Haldeman and Ehrlichman, were going to be in California for a week or more in connection with President
Thiệu's... uh, the meeting, along with the President's meeting with President Thiệu of South Vietnam and I felt that this would give me an opportunity to decide how best I could come forward and end this matter. I decided that I was going to inform the prosecutors of what the case was all about, but before I did so I felt I should consult with counsel to determine the scope of my own problems. On March thirtieth, shortly after lunch, I met Mr. Hogan and Mr. Shaffer. I spent five hours telling them everything that I could remember and telling them I was unwilling to continue the cover-up. Mr. Shaffer advised me to avoid further conversations regarding this subject and said that he would like to talk to me again on Monday morning, prior to seeing the prosecutors. Accordingly we met on Monday morning, April second, and discussed the matter for several hours more. That afternoon my attorneys went to the government prosecutors and told them that I was willing to come forward with everything I knew about the case. There then followed a number of meetings between my attorneys, and the prosecutors, and myself... and the prosecutors
and myself and the prosecutors in which we began to unfold everything I knew about the case. From the outset I was confronted with the problems of executive privilege, attorney-client privilege and national security. Thus it was agreed until these problems were resolved that I would exclude matters involving the President from these conversations. I was also... I was also uncertain of many of the dates and details of the facts that I had general knowledge of, so I began reconstructing the chronology of the events. As each section... session progressed I was able to provide more information, more leads, and more explanations of the interrelationships within the White House and the relationships of persons who were involved. During the period of April second until April fifteenth, the meetings I had with the prosecutors were initially focusing on the activities which had led up to the June seventeenth break-in at the Democratic National Committee and all the knowledge I had regarding events before June seventeenth. But as our discussions evolved and I began telling them more and more of the cover-up, their interest began to focus more and more on that area.
As i began explaining what i knew... what i knew, it was evident that the prosecutors had no conception of how extensive the cover-up was, so I tried to provide them with all the details that I could remember. Also, as the conversations regarding the cover-up began getting into more and more specifics, we moved into areas that came closer and closer to the President, but prior to April fifteenth I did not discuss any of the areas of Presidential involvement. During the time I was having conferences with the government prosecutors, I was avoiding conversations with Mitchell, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman as much as I could. However, on several occasions I did talk with Ehrlichman while he was in California. At one point he called me to ask me if I had completed my report that I'd been working on at Camp David. I told him it was still incomplete. He said that I should send him whatever I had completed. I told him that a section dealing with Segretti's activities, which had been prepared by Dick Moore, but which I had not reviewed myself, was complete as far as I was concerned, and I would send it to him.
He said I should send it to California immediately on a DEX machine, he said that Haldeman was interested in getting these facts out now because the timing might be right. I sent the report that had been written by Moore, a copy of which I have submitted to the Committee, Exhibit number forty. I also had a conversation with Mitchell about Paul O'Brien going out to visit Haldeman in California. Mitchell told me that he wanted O'Brien to go out and visit with Haldeman, and that he had worked out the meeting. I felt like telling Mitchell that I thought that when I learned the meeting had been switched from Haldeman to Ehrlichman, that O'Brien was being set up, that Ehrlichman would probe him on everything he knew about Mitchell, Dean, and anyone else involved. I did not know if this in fact occurred, but knowing that Ehrlichman and Haldeman were very busy protecting their flanks, I would have to believe that it did occur. I have never talked with O'Brien about what did
occur during his meeting with Ehrlichman. Ehrlichman also asked me if I knew when I would be called before the grand jury. I told him I did not, but that my lawyers were discussing the matter with the prosecutors. I did not tell him that I had already met with the prosecutors but he told me that he wanted to know when I was going to be called because he wanted to talk to me before I appeared. I believe that the President returned from California on Sunday April eighth. I was scheduled to meet with the prosecutors that afternoon. My attorneys had been discussing my testimony with the prosecutors and they had worked out an arrangement whereby I could give the prosecutors my knowledge directly and what I told them would not later be used against me if they should prosecute me. I felt that I should tell Haldeman that I was going to meet with the prosecutors personally, so I called him in California on the morning of April eighth before they departed for Washington. I made the call from Mr. Shaffer's office and when I told him this, he said that I should not meet with the prosecutors because, as he said, "Once the
toothpaste is out of the tube, it's going to be very hard to get it back in." After this comment, I did not tell Haldeman whether I would or would not meet with him, and in fact, the meeting went forward. During the meeting, and while the President was flying east, I received a call from Air Force One, from Mr. Higby, who asked me to be in Wisdom's, Ehrlichman's codename, office at a certain time for a meeting. I believe the meeting was set for four or five o'clock. I departed from the meeting with the prosecutors to go into the White House. I went to Ehrlichman's office. There I found Ehrlichman and Haldeman, who had just arrived from Andrews Air Force Base, and were, and we chatted for a brief moment about their trip. I raised the fact that I had read in the paper that morning that Colson had taken a lie detector test. I said that I hoped everyone is willing to take such a lie detector test because it will probably be necessary now that Colson has taken a test. They asked me if I had met yet with the prosecutors or knew when I would be called before the grand jury. I avoided a direct
answer to the question by saying that my lawyers were still having discussions with the prosecutors about my appearance before the grand jury. I was then asked some questions about testimonial areas but I gave them evasive answers. Even these evasive answers, which related, raised matters which related to them, brought forth responses that they did not remember it quite as I did. During the week of April ninth to April fourteenth, I had several conversations with Ehrlichman and Haldeman but tried ti avoid them as much as possible. I recall some discussions however regarding getting Mitchell to step forward. The theory that had been discussed before they went to California was becoming the policy: if Mitchell takes the rap, the public will have a high-level person and be satisfied and the matter will finally end. I felt during each encounter I had with them that I was very much a problem for them, that they did not want me to know that they felt so. However after having been involved with them for months on end in this matter, it was very easy for me to recognize the
changed attitude and on occasion they were almost patronizing in dealing with me. On Monday April ninth, Mitchell called me and told me he was coming to Washington and wanted to meet with me. I informed Ehrlichman and Haldeman of Mitchell's request and they both wanted me to meet with him. I also discussed the counsel and there was some discussion with the government about the meeting. The prosecutors were interested in my taping the conversation but I told them I thought that was most unfair to do to Mitchell and I would not go in and set him up. After discussing this further with my attorney and rejecting the suggestion that I record the conversation, I agreed to meet with Mitchell, but I had been instructed by counsel to prepare a memorandum of the meeting as soon as the meeting was over. I agreed to do this and I have submitted a copy of the memorandum to the Committee, Exhibit number forty-one. The sum and substance of the meeting was that if and when I were called to testify, I would testify fully and honestly. Mitchell said that he understood and did not suggest that I do
otherwise. He did however believe that my testimony would be very harmful to the President and said that he felt that I should not testify if at all possible. I reported my meeting with Mitchell to Haldeman and Ehrlichman later. There were other discussions that week in which Haldeman and Ehrlichman talked about pinning the entire matter on Mitchell. I listened with some interest because I did not feel that they would succeed at this and I felt that also they would have to be thinking about how to handle the cover-up activities, and felt that I would undoubtedly be a target for them to pin everything with regard to the cover-up on. As Haldeman and Ehrlichman began to discuss more and more about getting Mitchell to take the blame for authorizing this plan in the first instance, I began to increase my conversations with the prosecutors about the cover-up. The more I told the prosecutors about the cover-up, the more interested they became in it. At this time Haldeman and Ehrlichman were still unaware of my direct dealings with the prosecutors. On Friday April thirteenth, Fred LaRue came to my office to see me. Before he arrived in my office, I again contacted my attorney to advise him that LaRue wanted to see
me and ask me what I should do. And I asked him what I should do. He again said that he thought I ought to meet with LaRue, not to get into testimonial areas, but to make a memorandum of the meeting. I have submitted a copy of that memorandum to the Committee, Exhibit number forty-two. When LaRue and I met, LaRue told me he thought he was going to be called before the grand jury shortly, and he wanted to know what I was going to do if I was called. I told him I was going to tell the truth. I told him I did not believe we should talk about testimony because we could be asked that very question in and of itself before the grand jury. LaRue said let me just ask one question. He asked me if I had made any decisions on the money and I told him that I had not, that I had merely passed messages along and returned messages. He said that he had assumed that to be the case and asked me how I was going to handle the persons above me who were involved. I told him again that I was going to withhold nothing from the grand jury, and if asked, I would respond. Mr. LaRue also said that he needed some legal advice,
and I suggested that rather than getting it from me, that he ought to get independent counsel. I liked Fred LaRue very much, and felt very sorry for him realizing that this is probably the last conversation we'd have for some time, and he was in the middle of the matter not necessarily by his own choice, but by the circumstances he found himself in at the time. The strategy that was now developing was a partial uncovering of the cover-up; that is, to get Mitchell to step forward and on Friday April thirteenth, I went to Haldeman and Ehrlichman's office where Ehrlichman and Haldeman were present and discussing a meeting they had just had with Colson and his attorney Mr. Shapiro. They informed me that Colson had developed a plan to deal with the matter and that Mitchell should be smoked out. Ehrlichman said that Colson had concluded that obviously Mitchell had signed off on this matter and that he should take the responsibility for it and end this thing. Ehrlichman also said that Colson had made, had some other ideas, including the fact that the Gray hearings had been very damaging to me
publicly and I certainly should not take any position out in front dealing with the Ervin Committee hearings because of this. I might add that Ehrlichman and Haldeman were most cynical about Colson's suggestion and said to me that he was really scrambling to protect himself. After discussing the Colson plan, they told me that Mitchell would be coming down to talk about this entire matter. There was some discussion as to how to smoke Mitchell out. By the week's end, it had been decided that the President would meet with Mitchell and ask him about his knowledge and hope that the President would be able to get Mitchell to come forward. I told them I doubted very seriously if Mitchell would say anything to anyone about this matter. While these discussions were going on, the President called Ehrlichman and they had a brief discussion about the matter. I also recall that one point in the conversation a Ehrlichman said that he's right here, referring to me. On Saturday April fourteenth, I requested my attorney, Mr. Shaffer, to come to my office. I told him that Mitchell was coming down to meet with the President and that there was going to be an effort to smoke him out. I asked him
if he had any ideas and that Ehrlichman and Haldeman had asked me if I had any ideas. Mr. Shaffer gave me a former prosecutor's answer, that what Mitchell needs a good cross- examination. I told him I did not think was possible by the President because the President was not the cross-examining type. He also made a couple of other suggestions which would have resulted in the President having to appear before the grand jury if he got any admissions from Mitchell. I passed these suggestions along subsequently to Ehrlichman and Haldeman but they were not viable suggestions. Mr. Shaffer and I then sat down and began reviewing all of the facts that I had related to him. I told him I wanted his opinion based on conversations with the prosecutors and his own knowledge of the criminal law as to who had problems and who could be indicted and who were targets of the grand jury. Mr. Shaffer and I discussed this for a while and then I prepared a list of who was
likely to be indicted as the investigation proceeded. I had guests for lunch and it was after lunch that I met with Dick Moore. I had a list in front of me and thought that I would see what Moore's reaction to it was, because I was planning to take it to Ehrlichman and Haldeman later. I showed the list to Dick Moore and told him that it had been prepared based on conversations with my attorney and his knowledge of the involvement of various persons. I told him I felt that everybody on the list was a potential subject of an indictment. When I showed Moore the list, he was quite upset. He said that if indeed that occurred, it would be a tremendous tragedy for this country. He was shaken by the list and the seriousness with which i discussed it with him, but I was very serious in my desire to stop the cover-up with Ehrlichman and Haldeman so I appreciated Moore's reaction. I have submitted a copy of the document I referred to to this committee, Exhibit forty-three. Later that afternoon I went to Ehrlichman's office where Ehrlichman and Haldeman were discussing Mitchell's visit. I learned that Mitchell had met, met briefly with Ehrlichman, but not with the President. Ehrlichman
said that Mitchell was not talking and certainly that did not surprise me. And I certainly was not surprised that he would not talk with Ehrlichman either. I pulled the list I had prepared out of my pocket and told them that I had discussed everyone's problem with my lawyers and my lawyers have had conversations with the prosecutors as well and I thought that the following persons would be indicted. I then read them the list. I told them that my attorney had learned from the prosecutor, from his discussions with the prosecutors, that not only was Dean a target of the grand jury but Ehrlichman and Haldeman were also very much targets of the grand jury. Ehrlichman said that he had just talked with Kleindienst a few days earlier about the grand jury and that he had no knowledge, he had no such reports from Kleindienst. I said that my lawyer appears to know more than the Attorney General does because I believe he's probably more informed in that he has had
direct conversations with tbe prosecutors. I did not tell him at that point that I had had private meetings with the prosecutors or that I had told the prosecutors and the extent of the involvement of Haldeman and Ehrlichman. When this meeting ended it was quite... I was quite confident that I had gotten the message through to Ehrlichman and Haldeman that they had a serious problem themselves and I had put them on final notice that I wasn't playing cover-up... playing the cover-up game any longer. It was late that night that I realized that indeed my message had gotten through. About one o'clock on Saturday night or Sunday morning I received a call from Mr. Shaffer. He said the prosecutors had called him and that they were going to have to breach the agreement that they had made regarding keeping all my conversations with them private. Prosecutors had reported to Mr. Shaffer that the Attorney General had called Mr. Peterson and then wanted the full report on everything that was going on before the grand jury and where the grand jury was headed. The meeting with the Attorney General was to occur at about two
o'clock... at two AM at the Attorney General's home. The prosecutors also reported that the reason they felt they had to breach the agreement was because the Attorney General was being summoned to the President's office the next morning to discuss the entire matter. I told Mr. Shaffer that I had hoped to tell the President personally that I'd gone to the prosecutors several weeks ago, but that I had not... that I had understood why this was occurring and obviously there was nothing we could do about it now. I told Shaffer that we certainly had gotten the message through to Ehrlichman and Haldeman, that they had problems and that the cover-up may now begin to unravel at last. On Sunday April fifteenth, I went to Mr. Shaffer's office for an all-day meeting. I learned during the day that Ehrlichman had been trying to reach me during the better part of the day but I decided not to return his call. When I returned home about seven-thirty the White House operator called me again and said that Ehrlichman had been trying to reach me. I then returned his call. He told me that he was going back to his office to do some work
that night, would be in about eight o'clock, and would like to meet with me very much. I told him I would meet with him. I was quite aware the reason that Ehrlichman wanted to meet with me was because I was sure that he had learned from the President what was going on as a result of the President's meeting with Kleindienst and Peterson and the fact that Ihad been to the prosecutors and had obviously come out. As i had noted earlier I had not had any time discussed Presidential involvement with the prosecutors so the discussions that Peterson and Kleindienst had with the President obviously focused on the involvement of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean, Mitchell, Magruder, Strachan, and others that I had discussed. After Ehrlichman's call, I called Mr. Shaffer and we discussed the wisdom of the meeting. I told him I did not want meet with Ehrlichman and he agreed. Subsequently I tried to reach Ehrlichman to turn the meeting off, but learned he was already en route to the office. I called Mr. Shaffer back and told him that I thought I ought to meet with the President and I should call Rose Mary Woods and have her give a message to the President. He said he saw no problem with my talking with the President to tell him why I had gone to the
prosecutors. I attempted to reach Rose Mary Woods, but she was out of the city. I then wrote out a message for the President and phoned Mr. Higby and requested that Higby relate the matter to Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and on to the President. I have submitted a copy to the Committee of the message I sent the President at eight-fifteen, Sunday April fifteenth, Exhibit number forty-four In short, I told the president I hoped that he did not interpret my going to the prosecutors as an act of disloyalty, that I did not wish to speak with Ehrlichman at this time, that I would meet with him if he wished to discuss the matter with me, and that I thought that he should get his legal advice from Henry Peterson. Within forty-five minutes of sending the message, I had a call from the White House operator informing me that the President wished to meet with me at nine o'clock. It was shortly after nine when I arrived at the President's EOB
office. As I was driving into the White House I wondered to myself if the meeting was a setup. By a "setup" I mean, was the president going to try to smoke out of me what Ehrlichman and Haldeman had obviously been trying to do, but unable to do, and knowing the fact that I would not play games with the President, that the information would come out. I decided I couldn't worry about that and I had a duty to explain to the President why I was doing what I had done. Meeting with the President on April fifteenth. The President was very cordial when we met. I was somewhat shaken when I went in to meet with him because I knew I'd taken it upon myself to end the coverup and what I had started was going to cause serious problems for the President. I shall attempt to recall the highlights of the conversation that transpired on the meeting which occurred about nine o'clock on April fifteenth. I told the president that I'd gone to the prosecutors and I did not believe that this was an act of disloyalty, but rather in the end would be an act of loyalty. I told him I felt this matter had to end. I informed
the President that I had told the prosecutors of my own involvement and the involvement of others. At one point in the conversation I recall the President asking me about Haldeman's knowledge of the Liddy's... of Liddy's plans. He asked me if I had told him earlier about the fact that I had met with Haldeman after the second meeting in Mitchell's office and told Haldeman what was going on and my reaction to what was going on. I told the President I had reported this fact to him earlier. The President then made some reference to Henry Peterson, asking about why Haldeman had not turned... turned it off at that point and told me to testify that I had told Haldeman about the meeting in Mitchell's office The President almost from the outset began asking me a number of leading questions which was somewhat unlike his normal conversational relationships I'd had with him which made me think that the conversation was being taped and a record was being made to protect himself. Although I became aware of this because of the nature of the conversation, I decided I did
not know it for a fact and that I had to believe that the President would not tape such a conversation. Some question came up by the President as to whether I had immunity. As best I can recall, I told him my lawyers had discussed this with the prosecutors but certainly I had no deal with the government. He told me that he did not want to do anything to hurt my negotiations with the government. I do recall... I do not recall commenting on his comment regarding that. I also recall that the conversation turned to the matter of Liddy not talking. He said something about Liddy is waiting for a signal and I told him that possibly he was waiting for a signal from the President. I discussed with him the fact that maybe if Liddy's lawyer met with him, that Liddy would begin to open up, and I said that I thought that it would be really very helpful if Liddy did talk. It was during this part of the conversation that the President picked up the telephone and called Henry Peterson and pretended with Peterson that I was not in the room but the matter had... of Liddy's coming forward and him talking had arisen during our conversation.
The President relayed to Peterson that if Liddy's lawyer wanted to see him, to get a signal from the President, the President was willing to do this. The President also asked me about Peterson and I told him that if anyone could give him good advice, Henry Peterson could. The President also asked me if I remembered what day it was in March that I had reported to him on some of the details of the Watergate matter. He said that he thought was the twenty-first but he wasn't certain. I said that I could not recall for certain without checking. At another point in the conversation a matter of the degree of discussions that I had had with the prosecutors came up and I informed the President and I had had no discussions with the prosecutors relating to conversations I'd had with him or anything in the area of national security. The President told me that I could not talk about national security areas and I should not talk about conversations I've had... I'd had with him because they were privileged conversations. Toward the end of the conversation the President recalled the fact that at one point we had discussed the difficulty of him
raising money and that he said that one million dollars was nothing to raise to pay to maintain the silence of the defendants. He said that he had, of course, only been joking when he made that comment. As the conversation went on and is impossible for me to recall anything other than the high points of it, I became more convinced the president was seeking to elicit testimony from me and put in perspective... put his perspective on the record and get me to agree to it. The most interesting thing that happened during the conversation was very near the end. He got up out of his chair, went behind the chair to the corner of the Executive Office Building office and in a nearly-audible tone said to me, he was probably foolish to have discussed Hunt's clemency with Colson. I do not recall that I responded. The conversation ended shortly thereafter. As i was on my way out of the office after exchanging parting
pleasantries, I told the President that I hoped that my going to the prosecutors and telling the truth would not result in impeachment of the President. He jokingly said, "I certainly hope so also," and he said that it would be handled properly. Meeting with the President on the sixteenth. I received word on Monday morning April sixteenth that the President had requested I come to the Oval Office. I arrived at his office at nine forty-five, and rather than going to the reception entrance normally used by other members of the staff and myself I went into Steve... Mr. Steve Bull's office. Mr. Bull is the one who had informed me that the President had wanted to see me so I went to his office. Mr. Bull told me I would have to wait a few minutes because the President was in another meeting. A few minutes later, Haldeman and Ehrlichman emerged laughing from the President's office and when they saw me in Mr. Bull's office, their faces dropped. I said hello, they put on serious... a serious look. They said hello, put on a serious look and departed. I went into the President's office.
The President told me that he'd been thinking about this entire matter and thought might be good if he had in his drawer a letter from me requesting that... requesting... he had a letter from me requesting my resignation, that he accept my resignation. Or in the alternative, an indefinite leave of absence. He said that he had prepared two letters for my signature and would not do anything with them at this time but thought it would be good if he had them. He then passed me a manila folder with two letters in them. The President said that he had prepared the letters himself and that no one would know I'd signed them. I read the letters and was amazed at what I was being asked to sign. I've submitted to the Committee copies of the letters, Exhibit number forty-five, but since they are very brief I'll read them. The first letter, dated April sixteenth, read: "Dear Mr. President: In view of my increasing involvement in the Watergate matter, my impending appearance before the grand jury, and the probability of its actions, I request an immediate and indefinite leave of absence
for my position on your staff." The second letter, which was even more incriminating, read, "Dear Mr. President: As a result of my involvement the Watergate matter, which we discussed last night and today, I tender you my resignation effective at once." After reading the letters, I looked the President squarely in the eyes and told him I could not sign the letters. He was annoyed with me and somewhat a loss for words. He said that maybe I would like my own letter. [laughter] I told him that the letters that he had asked me to sign were virtual confessions of anything regarding the Watergate. I also asked him if Haldeman... or Ehrlichman and Haldeman had signed letters of resignation. I recall that he was somewhat surprised at my asking this and said that no, he said that they had not but they had given him verbal assurances to the same effect. He then elaborated that Haldeman and Ehrlichman had said that if they were called before the grand jury, they would seek an indefinite leave of absence. They
had given him their verbal assurance I then told the President that he had my verbal assurance to the same effect. It was a very tense conversation, but I was not going to sign a letter under any circumstances. As I sat there talking with the President, I had very much on my mind the laughter in Ehrlichman and Haldeman's voices when they walked out of the office before they realized that I was waiting outside to see the President. To break the impasse, the President said that he would like me to draft my own letter and report back to him later. He said that he was working on a statement regarding the Watergate and the recent developments that had come to his attention, as a result of his meetings with Kleindienst and Peterson, and would appreciate my thoughts. He said that he would also like to suggest... like a suggested draft letter for Haldeman and Ehrlichman, or maybe a form letter that everyone could sign. [laughter] I told him I would draft a letter and report back. The President called me to come to his Executive Office Building office about four
o'clock that afternoon. He asked me if I had drafted a letter, I said I had as well as I had prepared some thoughts for his statement. He asked to see the letter, a copy which I've submitted to the Committee, Exhibit number forty-six, but again shall read because it's very brief. "Dear Mr. President: You have informed me that Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman have verbally tendered their request to be given an immediate and indefinite leave of absence from your staff. By this letter, I also wish to confirm my request that I be given such a leave of absence from your staff." After the President read the letter, he handed it back to me and said that it wasn't what he wanted. [laughter] I then told him... [Sen. Ervin] The audience will please refrain from laughter. I then told him that I would not resign unless Haldeman and Ehrlichman resigned. I told him that I was not willing to be the White House scapegoat for the Watergate. He said that he understood my position and that he wasn't asking me to be a scapegoat. I then
gave him my recommendations of a draft statement. Before he read the draft statement he said that he had checked his records and it had been on March twenty-first that I had met with him and given him some... given him the report on the problems of the Watergate and its cover-up. I have submitted to the committee Exhibit number forty-seven, a copy of the draft statement I prepared for the President. The gist of the statement was two-fold. First, the President had learned of new facts in the case over the weekend as a result of this information coming to his staff and had directed Henry Peterson to take charge and leave no stone unturned. Secondly, that he accepted requests from Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean to be placed on leave of absence. The President said virtually nothing about the statement, and after reading it, told me to talk to Len Garment, who he said was also preparing a draft statement. After departing from the president's office I called Mr. Garment and told him that the President had requested I give him my input on a draft he was developing. Mr. Garment said he would come by my office, which he did. I
gave him a copy of the draft statement and he told me that he and I were thinking along similar lines: that is, that Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean had to resign. I told him I was ready and willing but only if Haldeman and Ehrlichman resigned as well. The next time I heard anything about the draft statement was on April seventeenth, when the President called and informed me that he had decided not to request any resignations until after the grand jury took action and he would issue a statement very shortly. That statement on April seventeenth is a matter of public record. I would only like to point out one or two items about the statement. The President said on March twenty-first as a result of serious charges which came to his attention, some of which are publicly reported, he began an intense new inquiry into the whole matter. I would merely refer the Committee's attention back to my earlier statement as to what the President did after my report to him on March twenty-first, as to
the White House's deep involvement in the cover-up. In short, the President commenced no investigation at all; rather the President, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman commenced to protect themselves against unraveling the cover-up. Secondly, I would also like to raise the paragraph that had been put in the statement, that no one in the position of major importance of the administration should be given immunity from prosecution. While a statement went virtually unnoticed in the public, it was very evident to me what the President was saying. Dean will not be a witness against anyone, so the government might as well stop dealing with him. On monday night in April sixteenth, I learned that the president had informed the government that he allegedly had taped a conversation in which I had told him I was seeking immunity from the government in exchange for testimony on Haldeman/Ehrlichman. I have no recollection of ever telling the president that I was still negotiating with the government and the President told me very specifically that he did not want to do anything to interfere with any negotiations I was having with the government. When I learned this from my attorney, I suggested that he
request that the government call for the tape and listen to that tape because I told him it must be a reference to a meeting I'd had with the President on April fifteenth. And if the conversation were taped, the government would have a pretty good idea of the dimensions of the case it was dealing with. I was referring to the fact that the President had mentioned the "million-dollar conversation" and the fact that he had talked to Colson about clemency for Hunt. I do not in fact know if such a tape exists, but if it does exist, and has not been tampered with and is a complete transcript of the entire conversation that took place in the President's office, I think this committee should have that tape, because I believe it would be... it would corroborate many of the things that this Committee has asked me to testify about. When the President issued his statement on April seventeenth, in which he was quite obviously trying to affect any decisions I was having with the government regarding my testimony by inserting the phrase there regarding no immunity, combined with the fact that he had requested that I sign a virtual confession on Monday of that week, I decided that indeed I was
being set up and it was time that I let the word out that I would not be a scapegoat. Accordingly on April nineteenth I issued a statement to that effect. After my statement of April nineteenth I had virtually no contact with members of the White House staff. I did have occasion to speak with Mr. Leonard Garment. I recall asking him who had placed the no immunity paragraph in the President's statement. Garment said that while he did not know for certain, he believed that Ehrlichman had placed it in the draft because it had not been there in earlier drafts but in the draft that emerged from Ehrlichman's consideration when Ehrlichman went over the final statement with the President. On April twenty-second Easter Sunday, the President called me to wish me happy Easter. It was what they refer to at the White House as a stroking call. On April thirtieth, while out of the city I had a call from my secretary in which she informed me that the wire services were carrying a story that my resignation had been requested and accepted and that Halderman and Ehrlichman were also resigning. Mr. Chairman this concludes my rather lengthy
statement. I apologize again for its length but I sought to comply with the Committee's request to provide the Committee with a broad overview of my knowledge of this matter. [Sen. Ervin] Without objection on the part of any member of the Committee, the Chairman at this time will admit into evidence all of the exhibits identified by the witness in the course of his testimony, except Exhibits five, six, seven, and eight, which will be... whose admissibility will be considered later by the Committee. I guess. [inaudible, off-mic] The Committee will stand in recess until ten o'clock in the morning. [Robert MacNeil] Well, that is how the longest
day of the hearings yet came to an end. The Committee will probably spend many more hours questioning John Dean. All the leaked bombshells about presidential involvement in the Watergate cover-up were there, as predicted. And there were a number of side lights that may be temporarily lost as the Committee concentrates on White House involvement. There is the charge that the judge hearing the civil cases against the Nixon campaign apparatus cooperated with the White House to prevent anything major from happening before the election. The judge has issued a blanket denial. There was an explanation of how top White House aides were spared the embarrassment of appearing directly themselves before the grand jury, and how one witness was handled very gingerly before that grand jury by the federal prosecutor that spilled the beans when questioned by a curious member of the grand jury. And there were also the recollections of how the White House tried to influence the Senate Watergate Committee, including ranking minority member Howard Baker, who says Dean's recollections were generally accurate. - Of course there are two parts to that: the White House's perception of that, and then Mr. Dean's account of the
conversation that actually transpired. I think by and large Mr. Dean's recollection of that account is essentially correct in all its material details. The account of Mr. Wally Johnson of the White House staff calling me when i was in Tennessee and asking if the White House could have a say so on the selection of minority counsel, I told them they could not, that accords with my understanding. Mr. dean's recollection of my brief meeting with the President shortly before a reception that I was attending at which time I recommended to the President against the claim of executive privilege is essentially correct. I do not recall the President indicating that he would rely instead only on written interrogatories, but that isn't a major point. Beyond that I think that Mr. Dean has pretty generally stated the situation as I recall. [reporter] Senator, let me read a memo... [Baker] May I? [reporter] Let me read a memo from H.R. Haldeman to John Dean, a portion of it, he says it was written
February ninth and it pertains specifically, he says, "Obviously the key on the Ervin Committee is a minority staff and more importantly the minority counsel. We've got to be sure we get a real tiger, not an old man or a soft head. And although we let the Committee membership slip out of our grasp, we've got to find a way to be sure we get the best man we can for counsel." Does that pretty well jibe also with your recollection of their putting pressure on you to get a counsel? - No, they didn't put any pressure on it, it was a simple request by Wally Johnson on the telephone, he said that he wanted to come to Tennessee to talk to me about it, and I said well, that's not necessary, you don't need to come to Tennessee, and he said well, can we have some input into the hiring of counsel and I said no, and obviously your memorandum goes much further than that but I have an idea that ended the conversation as far as they were concerned, so that's the end of my personal knowledge. - Do you think they got a real tiger or an old man? [laughter] They got a bright young man who's formerly in the US Attorney's office in Nashville, who is a trial lawyer, who I knew personally and they'd ever heard of, evidenced the fact that the President
asked me that same day, "Who is Fred Thompson?" and I explained to him he's a big tall tough Tennesseean who's going to do a good job. - [Jim Lehrer] All right, watching the story unfold with us today were former White House aide Stephen Hess and John Kramer of the Georgetown University Law Center and we're curious of course about their reactions to what John Dean said. First, Mr. Kramer, from a legal standpoint what did Dean's testimony do to President Nixon? [Kramer] - For any kind of criminal conviction there must be proof of a criminal act and a criminal intent. In this case the particular crime I think that's at stake is obstruction of criminal investigation and there you have to show a willful endeavor by means of bribery or misrepresentation to prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of a statute. Here as far as the criminal act is concerned I think you have several factors that John Dean pointed to if you believe his testimony. First of all the President was apparently involved in two discussions, with Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Colson, about the grant of executive clemency to Mr. Hunt. There was also the question of the payment of cover-up money up to the... a million dollars which the President
said could easily be done. And there are indeed other suggestions that perhaps the President was not very open about precisely when he learned about, from John Dean, learned about the cover-up. At one point in a resignation letter that he gives Mr. Dean, he refers to an April date, other times he refers to a March twenty-first date. But that is only the criminal act; the criminal intent, the willful endeavor is very significant and it seems to me that Mr. Dean's testimony points up some questions about the President's intent. For example the President tries to indicate that the one million dollar reference was a joke, and that the discussions about clemency were foolish, that he wasn't therefore intending to obstruct criminal justice and that raises some questions about his intent. [Lehrer] - Mr. Hess, legal culpability aside, what about the American public and the President now? [Hess] - Well, Mr. Nixon has to do something, I would think now in response to very serious charges that Mr. Dean made. He may choose, on the other hand, to think that time is on his side, that the best thing to do is to keep a low profile as it regards to Watergate. After all, we did see last week
with the Brezhnev summit visit that there are tremendous recuperative powers of the Presidency. He choose to take a legalistic approach, as he did during his May twenty-second statement, the four thousand words in which he talked about national security, where he attempts in writing to rebut Mr. Dean point by point. He may choose a counterattack strategy, there were hints of it in Mr. Dean's testimony today, the talk about Mr. Nixon's campaign being bugged in nineteen sixty-eight. He might choose a mea culpa feeling, there was some of that tone in his May twenty-second statement where he talked about how he should've listened more to the danger signs and less to the reassurances, but I hope that what he does is respond personally and forthrightly to the American people. [MacNeil] - Mr. Kramer, you said, "If you believe his testimony," how does Dean stack up on the credibility scale compared with other witnesses? - [Kramer] Well, what we really have to go on at this point is what's come before us, and I would say that at least the early part of his
testimony jibes almost completely with what we heard last week, or week before last, from Mr. Magruder. On that score we have some corroboration. It's gonna take the rest of the hearings really to corroborate piece by piece every other meeting that he describes, although I guess critically, certainly is that tape if it exists of that meeting with the president. [MacNeil] -It seemed to me with McCord there was some, quite a lot with the McCord testimony. - In fact, I don't really see any significant inconsistencies yet with Mr. Dean. Those may develop as the days go on. [Lehrer] - How you feel about the credibility issue, Mr. Hess? [Hess] - Well, I think Mr. Dean was an attractive witness, he spoke for six hours today in a low, almost a monotone voice, he's an attractive man, appears to be personally, I think that will be very hard to paint him as some sort of villain or or or demon at least based on his own presentation. [Lehrer] -Well, what would you think of tomorrow's hearings in terms of who would... or tomorrow's session, who would really go after him, as a political observer, he kind of threw
down the gauntlet to Senator Gurney, do you think anybody will really go after him tomorrow, and who would you guess it would be? [Hess] - Well I don't think he's in for an easy time for any of the members of the Committee. They've all developed a different style of attack, but it's been a very useful sort of a Committee with very interesting regional contrasts and differences in ways of getting at it, Mr. Baker has opened up questions of the morality involved, and so I think, I think we're not going to see any surprises in the avenue of attack from the seven persons on the Committee. [Lehrer] - All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. All right, the question of course is what more is there to say at this point. Regardless of the time zone where you live, it's very late. And the testimony of John W. Dean the third has been very hot, despite the several gallons of water he consumed while reading that lengthy and very historical document of his. Tomorrow the questions begin. "Now let's talk about that March fifteenth
meeting with the President," some Senator will say, and on and on it will go. And even more details if that's possible come out. John Dean's memory will be tested and retested and challenged and worked over like a piece of putty. And when it's all over tomorrow or the next day a lot of people in this country, including all of us and all of you, and most importantly the President of the United States will digest and judge what John W. Dean the third had to say, and we'll all decide whether or not to believe him. Right now maybe the best thing for all of us to do is to go on to bed so we'll be fresh from tomorrow. And until then, for Robert MacNeil and Peter Kaye, I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and goodnight. [narrator voiceover] From Washington, you've been watching gavel to gavel videotaped coverage of hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. This coverage is made possible by grants for special events coverage from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, and has been a production of NPACT, a division of the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association
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1973 Watergate Hearings
Part 6 of 6
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Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer anchor gavel-to-gavel coverage of day 12 of the U.S. Senate Watergate hearings. In today's hearing, John Dean testifies.
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Politics and Government
Watergate Affair, 1972-1974
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Anchor: MacNeil, Robert
Anchor: Lehrer, James
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Chicago: “1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-06-25; Part 6 of 6,” 1973-06-25, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-06-25; Part 6 of 6.” 1973-06-25. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: 1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-06-25; Part 6 of 6. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from