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As White House special counsel Richard Moore takes a moment to check some facts, we'll take a short break. We'd like to remind you that when we take these breaks, you don't miss any of the testimony. You simply stop the videotape and then start it again a couple of minutes from now. Public television's coverage of the Senate hearings will continue after a pause for station identification. Unabridged coverage of these hearings is provided as a public service by the member stations of PBS, the public broadcasting service. Thank you.
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... From Washington, NPAC continues its coverage of hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. Here again, Correspondent Robert McNeil. We go back to the hearings as Richard Moore is being questioned by Assistant Chief Counsel Terry Linsner. ... At no time during this meeting or during the succeeding meetings... Can you indicate what page you're on? Page 13. Or during succeeding meetings on March 15, March 19, and 20, all of which were attended only by the President, Mr. Dean, and myself. Did anyone say anything in my presence which related to or suggested the existence of any cover-up or any knowledge or involvement by anyone in the White House then, now, or in the Watergate affair?
No, Mr. Moore, I'm asking you about your meeting on April 19 with the President, where you discussed Ellsberg, Ehrlichman... I have it. March 19. You're talking about April 19? Yes, sir. And the question is, is it in this statement? Is it reflected anywhere in your statement? Excuse me. Is it reflected anywhere in your statement? And if it isn't, can you... No, sir. No, sir. Can you explain? Why was that left out? The two 19ths. We're talking about April 19, I was thinking it was March 19. Well, the April 19 statement is not referred to. Can you explain why you did not include that in your opening statement? Well, a lot of things... Yes, if you look at the portion where I speak of the time frame where I thought I had evidence that would relate to what I thought was the basic subject, the meetings which I attended with Mr. Dean and the President. And I took a time frame of February 6, as a start of my acquaintance with the subject, up to and including, I said, March 21, the date the President first learned of the possibilities of facts that he referred to in his latest statement.
I had, as you know, a lot of things were not included here. I indicated I'd be glad to go into any and all other subjects, but this was what I thought was the heart of what I could provide. So stated. Now, after you learned in March of the meetings in Mr. Mitchell's office with Liddy Magruder and Dean, did you ever see Mr. Mitchell again to talk with him after that? No. Oh, I'm sure I did. On a number of occasions? No, once or twice. I saw him once when he was in the White House, he was down there on a visit. I've seen very little of him.
But did you ask him on that occasion or any occasion about the meetings that he had in his office with Mr. Liddy, Mr. Dean, and Mr. Magruder that Mr. Dean had described to you? No, sir. I believe you saw him on March 28, 1973 at the White House with Mr. Haldeman. Did you have any discussion on that date? Oh, you say I believe I saw him? Well, I'm reading from a notation of Mr. Haldeman's diary that indicates you, Mr. Haldeman, and Mr. Mitchell met on that date. What was the date? The date is March 28, 1973. Well, if you'll give me a moment to... I just want to see if I have any...
Take your time, Mr. Moore. While you're doing that, I'm told by my associate up here that Mr. Miller spoke about our meeting on Thursday, June 8th. Mr. Lackerts tells me that Thursday of that week was June 7th. But go ahead and pursue your... No, he didn't say that. You didn't hear him correctly. Friday the 8th of June was the date of the meeting, Mr. Lenzer. I have competent evidence available if necessary. Go right ahead, Mr. Moore. Can you describe, Mr. Moore, by the way, what you're looking at to refresh your recollection? Yes, sir. It's some notes I made just for this purpose after my little discussion of dates with you. I, I... You're telling me that Mr. Haldeman's diary shows that I was present in a meeting on March 28th. That's correct. At which Mr. Mitchell was present. Can you tell me if anybody else was present? The diary only indicates that Mr. Haldeman joined the meeting at approximately 9 o'clock. I'd be glad to... Do you know where? I don't have...
It looks like Mr. Haldeman's office in the White House. Because I think this diary would not reflect this entry unless it was his secretary at his office. What day of the week are we on? This is Wednesday. He said after his last week. Could you tell me whether that is a diary of a meeting that took place or a meeting that was scheduled? Well, that's... It indicates... I'd be glad to show you the diary. At the moment, I have no recollection of such a meeting. Indicates Haldeman returned, joined Mitchell and Moore. It's on the right-hand side, Mr. Moore, of the diary entry.
The time appears to be 12.45. Is that the way you made it? Excuse me, sir? The time of day? About 8.45, I think it says, yes. Well, I don't want to belabor... No, I don't usually get in that early. I have no recollection of the meeting. I don't really think I was at that meeting. Now, I admit the diary shows that. I don't know whether it could have been Powell Moore, my good friend from Milledgeville, Georgia, whose name has been confused with mine a couple of times,
and I might say for the benefit of anybody I should that I'm Richard and he's Powell. I don't recall being at that meeting, but I will... Above the entry at 8.45, it says Dick Moore, but I don't want to belabor this. I see that now. The only question I'm asking you is, did you ever, when you did see Mr. Mitchell, ask him about the meetings that Mr. Dean had told you about in his office? No, I never did. Now, you testified also, sir, that on or about March 19th, Mr. Dean told you that Hunt was demanding, I think you said, over $100,000. What I said was that he mentioned a large amount, and I didn't remember what it was, but I've since read that it was over $100,000. Whatever it was, he wanted it by Wednesday, or he was going to embarrass the White House. Now, did you ask Mr. Dean for any specifics as to how he could embarrass the White House? No, no. When you characterized it as blackmail, what was your basis for so characterizing it? He said some characterization, and things have gotten to terrible.
I've just learned that Howard Hunt is demanding X thousand dollars, and he wants it before he's deposited or before he's sentenced. In fact, he wants it by Wednesday, and if he doesn't get it, he's going to raise hell with the White House, or say things that will raise hell with the White House, or words to that effect. I don't remember the precise words. Well, now, after you realized that this was a pretty serious thing going on, did you take any action? Did you contact any law enforcement agencies to advise them that a crime of some proportion was about to be committed the next day or the day after? No. When I was talking to the counsel of the chief magistrate, I thought that the main thing was to... No, I didn't. Now, if you had, talk to the FBI or the U.S. Attorney's Office.
They would have been able to provide surveillance and perhaps prevent a serious crime from being completed. Is that not correct? I don't know what they would have done. They might have said, what evidence do you have? I don't know what they would have done. What I had was, someone had told, Dean told me that someone had told him that Howard Hunt had said this, and maybe the FBI would have acted, I don't know. The time frame is pretty fast anyway. We'd get there the next day, within 36 hours. That's my point. If it was, if it was. Right, right. Well, when you talked to the U.S. Attorney's Office on April 30th, did you relate that conversation that you had with Mr. Dean, concerning the blackmail? I'm pretty certain I did. And I also, at that time, had a notion it was, could have been earlier. But as I, I think I said, I knew it was before Wednesday. For some reason, that timing stuck in my mind.
And I did tell him about it. Now, when you met with the President and Mr. Dean on March the 30th, did you have a discussion which concerned Mr. Mitchell? Here we go again. March the 30th. I did not have a meeting with the President. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I apologize. It's tough. I apologize. I meant March the 20th. March the 20th. And the question was, did I... Did you have a discussion with Mr. Mitchell, about Mr. Mitchell on that date, with Mr. Dean and the President? No, sir. All right. Now, we furnished you, Mr. Moore, with a... Let me ask this. Did you and the President agree on that date that the investigation should be made public immediately after the sentencing of the defendants? Did the President and I agree that the report should be...
That the investigation that was ongoing at that time should be made public and that a statement should be released after the sentencing of the defendants? On March 20th? Yes, sir. Now, you referred to an investigation that was ongoing at that time. Which investigation are you referring to? Well, I take it that that means whatever facts that the White House had obtained. You mean we're still under investigation or... You said an investigation going on at that time. I'm not sure what that refers to. Well, I'm not sure either, sir. But you were at that meeting, and I'm asking, was there a discussion about an investigation that was going on and that the results of that investigation should be made public? There was no discussion of any investigation that was going on. There was an expression by the President that he was in favor of getting the story out as soon as we could. And there was no discussion of Mr. Mitchell or the Vesco case, to your recollection?
No, sir. Now, we furnished you, Mr. Moore, with a copy of the White House reconstruction of a variety of meetings between the President and Mr. Dean. And I want to direct your attention at this point to the date in that reconstruction that was furnished us by the White House to March 20, 1973. Could I request an additional copy? I seem to have mislaid mine. I think we gave that to you all last week. I don't know if we have. Let me read you the entry, and then I'll be glad to... If I can work from the... Who got the document? We do have a copy. As I said, Mr. Moore, just so your understanding is accurate, this is a document, information that was furnished us by the White House, which is a reconstruction by them of the meeting on March 20 and other meetings, but this meeting on March 20.
And I quote... Was this furnished by the White House? This is furnished by the White House, yes, Mr. Miller. I want to quote now, on March 20, the entry, Dean discussed Mitchell's problems with the grand jury, Vesco, and the Gurney press conference. Do you see where that starts? I saw that at the time. The President and Moore agreed that the whole investigation should be made public and that a statement should be released immediately after the sentencing of the defendants. Now, Mr. Moore, is that an inaccurate reconstruction by the White House at that meeting? I believe it is because I don't believe those things were said in my presence, but I'm just... I don't know who in the White House prepared this. Do you know anything about this? I believe it was Mr. Buzzhardt, I assume, conferring with people who were at that meeting. I would hope that they talked to you about that before they reconstructed it. I don't know why they would, but they did not.
Okay. Mr. Lenzer, I've been informed, and I don't know if it's fact or not, that this document was not, in fact, prepared by the White House. Now, that is hearsay information on my part. I think Mr. Thompson received this information from Mr. Buzzhardt. Maybe he can clarify this. Excuse me. Excuse me just a minute. If I could shed a little light on this. We've discussed this a time or two before. I might suggest that the press indicated that during the week of the cessation of the hearings of the Committee on the Revival of the Russians for Vest in America that somebody leaked this to the press. That is Mr. Buzzhardt's statement. It has been stated in the press, that is, as I understand it,
that this statement was subsequently repudiated by the White House. May I address myself to that just a minute? It was stated, I think, a time or two before. The substance of this information was communicated to me orally over the telephone by Mr. Buzzhardt. I don't recall the exact date. Pursuant to the committee's inquiry as to what did, in fact, occur on those dates, this information was submitted to me orally. I took longhand notes that same day. I dictated from those notes the summary which we've been referred to. I gave a copy to Mr. Dash, and it was made available to members of the committee. Now, the preciseness of those conversations and so forth, perhaps there can be disputed to a certain extent, but I believe it has been verified that what is in that document, the substance of what's in that document, is accurate. Obviously, there is room for some slip-up, I imagine, in the nature of the way the thing was transmitted.
And we did not discuss at that time how it would be used or whether or not it would be made a part of the record or whether or not it would be the official White House position. But that is how it transpired, and that resulted in the document which we referred to. Mr. Thompson, I could add this, that on receipt of it, I did make contact with Mr. Garment and Mr. Buzzhardt so that if we were going to use it, we wanted to make sure that they saw your reconstruction on your notes. And they did come down in my office and read your notes and stated that although it was not a verbatim statement of the telephone call, it was generally accurate. Generally accurate? They found nothing on these. They said it was not a verbatim statement, a word-for-word, but that it was an accurate statement. An accurate as distinguished from generally accurate? It was accurate, yes. Well, you might want to take this up, Mr. Moore, when you return to the White House today. Well, if I could get the thrust of...if you had questions about...
Well, the question was, does that entry of March 20th coincide with your recollection of what was discussed on that date? You've already indicated that you couldn't recall immediate discussion about Mitchell, Vesco, and the grand jury. And you've also indicated that there was no discussion about you and the President agreeing on making this investigation public. Are you saying that this entry is not an accurate reflection of that meeting? Well, some of it is reasonably accurate, some I can't recall. For instance, it does refer to that suggestion about challenging the committee to its own investigation, which I stated. I think I stated in various languages at various words at various times that the President indicated his desire to get the whole statement out about the whole thing and that we agreed. I think probably...I don't know whether Mr. Dean raised a question about waiting till after the sentencing, but there was no, I recall, no firm decision on that.
The... Mitchell's problems with the grand jury. Grand jury and Vesco. I don't think there was any discussion of that. I don't know about whether Mr. Dean reported something that had gone up there or something. I don't know. I don't recall that at that meeting. And I wondered if the log showed whether Mr. Dean had another meeting that day with the President. I've forgotten. Perhaps you have that there. And I'm not sure whether we got there at the same time. Let me ask you this, Mr. Moore. You did testify that when you left the Oval Office on March 20th, you concluded that the President could not be aware of the things that Mr. Dean was worried about.
Now, did that include, for example, the threat by Mr. Hunt to blackmail the White House? Yes. Did it also include the earlier activities of Mr. Hunt and Mr. Liddy that Mr. Dean had also indicated could be embarrassing to the White House? I had no laundry list in my mind. I had a, except the Howard Hunt matter, was that the general feeling that the man in that Oval Office who was telling us so strongly that everything that anybody knew should be disclosed as soon as possible and that we should get the story out, and he had said it before, that this was utterly incompatible with his having prior knowledge of any of these things. And that's what I say. When I left, I said, John, and I pointed into that room, I said, the President doesn't know the kind of things that you're talking about and worrying about.
Have you told him? And so forth. You've heard the story. Yes, sir. I just sensed that this man with this frame of mind and this desire to tell the whole story, whatever it was, didn't know the whole story. Didn't know anything about what was going on. So that was my conviction. And I take it, including the things that Dean was telling you about Hunt and Liddy's activities that you, I think, once said to us could blow the roof off. The whole field of suspicion and knowledge and problems that seem to be lying there. Mr. Moore, do you agree now that your understanding of the President's information and knowledge was basically incorrect? That he did, in fact, have information at that meeting, by that meeting on March 20th, concerning Mr. Strachan, and also possible involvement in Watergate, and also concerning the Ellsberg break-in involving Hunt, Liddy. I have no reason to, you've heard my statement on that, of course, that he did not, that it was my judgment that he did not. I know of nothing to change that.
All right, sir. Now, could you again, referring back to the White House reconstruction of the meetings with Mr. Dean, if you'll look at the item on March 13th. I know. It says, Dean said there was nothing specific on Colson, that he didn't know about Mitchell, but that Strahan could be involved. And then on March 17th, at the bottom of the paragraph, it said, and this is an admission by the White House of the discussions that took place on that date, Dean told the President of the Ellsberg break-in, but that it had nothing to do with the Watergate. Now, you weren't present at those meetings, but does that information, as admitted by the White House, now indicate that, in fact, your perception was wrong, that Mr. Nixon, the President, did know about both Strahan's possible involvement in the Ellsberg break-in? Well, it seems to me that the answer to that question can only be given to you by someone who was at the meeting. And when you speak of the White House report, and we use the word White House, which is a building, rather loosely, anything done in the White House is done by a person.
And when you speak of this as a White House report, Mr. Thompson very candidly and properly has said this is his summary of a telephone conversation. So I want to get those. Now, all I know is what I saw and heard, and I do not know what the nature of these conversations were, or what the frame of reference was about their adjectives and their words in here about involvement. I have no knowledge of what was said. I wasn't there. Mr. Bazard obviously wasn't there if he made the phone call. I don't know what the source of the statements or the recollections are. So I would say that this, again, could well be Irvin's law to the third power over the telephone. So I can't speak or vouch for anything in this, which has been variously described as a White House document.
I remember asking about whether it was in the New York Times. It was, and it was a report of a telephone conversation. I cannot account for that. It doesn't change my opinion one bit. And I think that if you want to get at that, you should ask someone who was at the meeting. Well, we have had Mr. Dean up here, Mr. Moore. We have his version. Do you think, would you recommend that we also get anybody else that was at that meeting up here as a witness? Well, there are certain constitutional considerations here. But even as important as these hearings are, the Constitution may be more important. And, but no, let me just reread this. The President, what I get out of it mostly is, that Strachan could be involved. A statement under these circumstances, forth hand, I guess, or whatever, that Strachan could be involved, I don't take as knowledge that might have come through to the President in those terms, if indeed it was said so.
So I can't comment. We've had so much of this conversation problem, and we've seen it illustrated quite a bit today, back and forth. I can't comment on those. Well, of course, you were not at those meetings, but, and this is the White House version of those meetings, but, so you can't testify as to whether the President did or did not know about that information, how detailed it was, what he did after those meetings to obtain additional information. Isn't that correct? That's correct. Do you know, by the way, whether after he learned of the Ellsberg break-in, whether he called in Mr. Ehrlichman, Mr. Krogh, Mr. Young, and interrogated them as to their possible involvement in the Ellsberg break-in? No, I do not. Now, you also testified that on about April 13th or April 14th, you learned then of Mr. Ehrlichman's relationship to Mr. Ellsberg. Now, again, I don't want to quarrel with your recollection, Mr. Moore, but isn't it true that you, in fact, learned of that information sometime in early March?
What's the transcript reference on that testimony? I think it's, I'll get that for you in a second, it's the last question on the morning of, the afternoon of July 13th. I'm sorry. It's on page 3845. 3845. Now, what was your question?
My question is, did you, in fact, learn in early March about the Ellsberg break-in from Mr. Dean? Well, when you say learn about the Ellsberg break-in, that had been in the newspapers long ago, hadn't it? So when you say learn about it, what do you mean? Well, it wasn't in the newspapers in March of this year, it was in the newspapers after it was disclosed out at the trial in April 25th. In fact, when there was a break-in of the Ellsberg psychiatrist's office, wasn't that news? I don't think so, Mr. Moore. I think that was first disclosed on about April 25th when Judge Byrne... I mean to the public. Did the doctor not disclose it? I don't remember whether I read it or not before, but I thought I did. All right, sir. Well, let me ask... Yeah. In any event, let me ask you this. You did go see the president on April 19th, and you had a discussion about what Dean had told you concerning Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Ellsberg. Go ahead, yes.
Is that correct? Yes. At that time, did the president tell you that Mr. Dean had advised him of that incident on March 17th? No, he did not. And similarly, in answer to I think Senator Gurney's question, you've also testified that Mr. Dean didn't tell you what he had told the president. Is that correct? He testified that he let it all out and told him everything. But he didn't tell you the specifics of whether he talked about a million dollars or the Ellsberg break-in or anything else. That's right. Now, are you also aware that the day before your meeting with the president on April 19th, that is, the day I'm talking about now is April 18th, the president ordered Mr. Peterson of the Department of Justice to confine his investigation to the Watergate case and not get into national security matters, including the Ellsberg case? I'm not aware of that.
Well, you have read the president's statement of May 22nd, have you not, sir? I thought you meant of my own knowledge, but I'll be glad to... Well, let me read you the pertinent part. It says, therefore, I instructed Mr. Haldeman... Excuse me, let me... The pertinent part is down here. For example, on April 18th, 1973, when I learned that Mr. Hunt, a former member of the Special Investigations Unit at the White House, was to be questioned by the U.S. Attorney, I directed Assistant Attorney General Peterson to pursue every issue involving Watergate, but to confine his investigation to Watergate and related matters, and to stay out of national security matters. I'd like to find the reference so I can... As you recall, a 4,000-word statement as to...Lance Newton, I'm just looking for the reference. Is it in the early part, or...
Well, it's under the... Does it have a caption or a caption here? The caption is, uh, forbidden area. That is a newspaper reproduction? Well, I guess it is, sir, yes. I don't know... The caption forbidden area doesn't appear in the official text. I guess that's it. Well, let me... No, but I'll find it. I just don't like to take a paragraph without knowing what the context was. Is it in the... Let me pass this up to you. Give me a moment and I'll find it. Well, maybe when...
Yes. I now have it, Mr. Lander. Now, that special investigation unit was with reference to the plumbers' activities. Is that not correct? It refers to national security matters. And it refers to the special investigation unit, does it not? I directed Assistant Attorney General Peterson to pursue every issue involving Watergate, but to confine his investigation to Watergate and related matters, and to stay out of national security matters. I don't...if there's a reference to the plumbers, maybe you could point it out and I will...
Well, the sentence above it, where it refers to Mr. Hunt, the sentence above that, where it refers to Mr. Hunt, is a former member of the special investigations unit. That was the plumbers' unit, was it not? Special investigations we had in the... Hold it. I'll go along. I guess so. Go ahead. Well, the question is, really, Mr. Moore, wasn't that an indication that there was intent to keep the lid on the Ellsberg break-in story? I can't testify to that. If you read it, you won't find that here. Now, I'm not going to try to read the President's mind. I think that he's expressed throughout this his interest in protecting the national security, but when you use words like keep the lid on and that kind of thing,
that's your characterization of the President's statement, and you're free to make it, but I don't join in any interpretation. Well, can you explain, then, Mr. Moore, why the President, who received information on March 13th concerning Mr. Strachan, on March 17th concerning the Ellsberg break-in, and on March 21st from Mr. Dean on other matters, failed to communicate any of this information to the Department of Justice, the FBI, or any law enforcement agency? Can you explain why that information was not transmitted to an investigative unit outside the White House? Well, now, Mr. Lansdy, you've got three things, I think, in there, and maybe the reporter could read them back, and I can take them one by one, because I can't give you a collective answer. Could you, sir? Can you communicate any of this information to the Department of Justice?
No, no. No, I'm talking about the three. No, if you could read the question from the beginning, because it has, I think, three items in it, and I think each one may require… Well, I think I'd rather get the answer, if you don't mind. Go ahead. The question. Can you explain, then, Mr. Moore, why the President received information on March 13th concerning Mr. Strachan? Wait a minute. Now, I don't know what information… Wait a minute. Wait a minute. No, no, I wanted to ask a question. Yeah, but I know. I only got two hands. Oh, quite right, sir. I thought you could do it one-handed. No, I can't. Mr. Moore, would you go ahead? Would you like to comment on that? I don't know what information he received from Mr. Strachan, about Mr. Strachan. Looking, again, at the White House law reconstruction,
and you know that he received information from Mr. Dean on March 21st. Can you explain to this committee why that information was not transmitted to a law enforcement agency before Mr. Dean in April himself transmitted the same information to the U.S. Attorney's Office? Well, that's really why I wanted the question read back, because I don't know of anything in your question that indicated the President received any knowledge of any illegal activity. Well, you've already read the White House reconstructed version of the meetings between Mr. Dean and the President, which indicates information allegedly involving criminal acts. Now, what I'm asking is, if the President had that information, and he admitted on May 22nd in his statement that he did receive such information, why then did he not transmit that information to a law enforcement agency so it could be investigated?
Well, Mr. Lansner, we're talking about what you keep calling the White House report, and so forth. We're talking about a recapitulation of what someone told Mr. Buzhardt, who told Mr. Dash, what was said at the meeting, and what it says is, about Mr. Strachan, was that he might be involved. Involved in what? In what way? I just don't know, and I don't think any of us know. And certainly, there's nothing here that I can find. I wish to predicate a question to the television audience that the President knew of criminal activity that he didn't report. I don't find it here. Well, assuming that this is an accurate reconstruction, and it refers to the Ellsberg break-in on March 17th, and it refers... Where is the reference to the break-in? March 17th. Well, where is that reference? On page 3 of the White House version of the meeting. This is my last question, Mr. Moore, if we can finish it.
All right. And the President did indicate that he was aware, when he talked to you later, about the blackmail threat. Yes, sir. And the White House version, again, indicates that on March 21st, the President received information that Magruder probably knew, Mitchell possibly knew, that Strawn probably knew, and that Haldeman had possibly seen the fruits of the wiretaps through Strawn, that Ehrlichman was vulnerable because of his approval of Comback's fundraising efforts. Can you explain now why that information, as admitted by the White House, was not transmitted to a law enforcement agency for further investigation until April, after Mr. Dean had already talked to the U.S. Attorney's office? Can you explain that at all?
I have no explanation of my own knowledge. How can this committee find out the answer to that question, Mr. Moore? Well, I think the first thing is, I'm sure as you can find out what the facts were, the President, as I think I said yesterday, I didn't think the President would, as a lawyer, or could, as a chief executive, immediately take public action, for example, on the basis of whatever it was that one man told him in that meeting, and that he had to test and find out the truth and facts for himself, in my opinion. I was not there. I did not talk to him, as you know, between March 21st and sometime in April. He did make these moves. You do have the April 17th statement, where all of a sudden the entire approach changed, executive privilege, cooperation, we were all free to come up here.
No one would be covered up, no one would be granted immunity, no matter how high in the administration. But I don't think that after a year of rumor and hints and so forth, that the President could act on a presumable factual basis, because one person had told him these things, it started him, it triggered him, it caused him to renew and intensify, and today, as you know, total changes have been made already in the structure of the White House, in the top personnel, and I think that he moved, and he moved pretty judiciously, and he moved pretty effectively, and I think his Chief Magistrate, he merely was working with Mr. Kleindienst, the Attorney General, and Mr. Peterson, the criminal head, so forth. I think the results speak for themselves, and I think there's where it stands. You have no explanation then, though, when Mr. Peterson and Mr. Kleindienst went to talk with the President in April,
why he had not prior to that time furnished them with the information he had concerning these allegations? Well, I don't know whether he did or not, and I don't know what information he had, and I don't know at what point he was ready to accept this to the point of putting it into the hands of the criminal division. And I must say, and one thing you must remember, that when things start to move into the departments, they often end up in the newspapers, and I think this was too important. This is my opinion. I shouldn't be surmising, should I, Mr. Attorney, but that he wanted to have a pretty good idea himself of what was going on before he went outside the walls of the White House, and I don't know. Maybe he was talking to himself. The point is, I've given you the narrative and the sequence and the results, and things are moving forward. They're moving forward on all levels actively.
We have the special prosecutor. We have these hearings. We have the complete release of attorney-client privilege, executive privilege. We have the open book of being offered by the President of the United States, and I think that he reached that decision and that conclusion in a judicious, sensible way, a lawyer-like way, and the way of a responsible chief executive. I have no more questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On to the assessment of the chairman and vice chairman. Meeting with certain parties at this time. The committee will stand in recess until 2 o'clock.
First, I want to thank you, Mr. Moore, for your cooperation with the committee. Am I excused now, sir? Yes. Thank you. So Richard Moore has ended his testimony the way he began it, by maintaining he believed the President knew nothing of the Watergate cover-up. In a moment, we'll hear the most startling testimony of the day, possibly the most startling testimony of the hearings, from former White House aide Alexander Butterfield. Public television's coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings will resume after this pause for station identification. Unabridged coverage of these hearings is provided as a public service by the member stations of PBS, the public broadcasting service. .
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. . . . In Washington, NPACT continues its coverage of hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities.
Here again, correspondent Jim Lehrer. As we go back to the hearings, the committee is about to get some confirmation of John Dean's suspicion that his talks with the President were recorded. The surprise witness is Alexander Butterfield. At this, subcommittee will come to order. Mr. Butterfield, will you stand and raise your right hand? You swear the evidence that you shall give the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. I do, Mr. Chairman. Be seated and suppose for the record that you state your name and present occupation and address. My name is Alexander Porter Butterfield. I am the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
My home address is 7416 Admiral Drive, Alexandria, Virginia. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, at a staff interview with Mr. Butterfield on Friday, some very significant information was elicited. It was attended by majority members of the staff and minority members. The information was elicited by a minority staff member. Therefore, I'd like to change the usual routine of questioning and ask the Minority Counsel to begin the questioning, Mr. Butterfield. Thank you, Mr. Dash. Mr. Butterfield, I understand you previously were employed by the White House. Is that correct? That's correct. In what period of time were you employed by the White House? I would like to preface my remarks, if I may, Mr. Thompson. I'm sorry. I believe you do have a minute. Go right ahead. Although I do not have a statement as such, I would simply like to remind the committee membership that whereas I appear voluntarily this afternoon,
I appear with only some three hours' notice and without time to arrange for permanent counsel or for assistance by a temporary counsel. That's all I have to say, Mr. Thompson. During what period of time were you employed at the White House, Mr. Butterfield? I was at the White House as a deputy assistant to the President from the first day of the Nixon administration, January 21, 1969, until noon of March 14, 1973. And what were your duties at the White House? My duties were many and varied, as a matter of fact, Mr. Thompson. I'll try to state them briefly.
I was in charge of administration. That is to say that the staff secretary, who is the day-to-day administrator at the White House, reported directly to me, and of course I reported to Mr. Haldeman, as did everyone. In addition to administration, I was responsible for the management and ultimate supervision of the Office of Presidential Papers and the Office of Special Files. Both of those offices pertain to the collection of documents which will eventually go to the Nixon Library. Thirdly, I was in charge of security at the White House, insofar as liaison with the Secret Service and the Executive Protective Service was concerned, and insofar as FBI background investigations for prospective presidential appointees is concerned.
A fourth duty was that I was the Secretary to the Cabinet. I had that duty not from January 21st, 1969, but from November, I believe November 4th, 1969, through until the day I departed March 14th of this year. I was additionally the liaison between the President and the Office of the President and all of the various support units. By that I mean the Office of the Military Assistant to the President, the Office of White House Visitors, again the Secret Service, the Executive Protective Service, the residence staff, Mrs. Nixon's staff.
I served as sort of the conduit between all of those elements and the Office of the President. Finally, I was in charge of the smooth running of the President's official day, both in Washington, D.C., and at the Western White House in San Clemente. I had nothing to do with the smooth running of his day in Florida or at Camp David, but I was responsible for the smooth implementation of the official events on his calendar in Washington and at the Western White House. That pretty well sums it up, sir. So you were employed on January 21st, 1969, and continue to be employed until March 14th of this year, is that correct? That's correct. Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President? I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir.
When were those devices placed in the Oval Office? Approximately the summer of 1970. I cannot begin to recall the precise date. My guess, Mr. Thompson, is that the installation was made between, and this is a very rough guess, April or May of 1970 and perhaps the end of the summer or early fall of 1970. Are you aware of any devices that were installed in the Executive Office Building Office of the President? Yes, sir, at that time. Were they installed at the same time? They were installed at the same time. Could you tell us a little bit about how those devices worked, how they were activated, for example? I don't have the technical knowledge, but I will tell you what I know about how those devices were triggered.
They were installed, of course, for historical purposes, to record the President's business, and they were installed in his two offices, the Oval Office and the EOB Office. Within the West Wing of the White House, there are several, at least three, perhaps four, but three that I know of, boxes called Presidential Locator Boxes. These are square boxes, approximately 10 by 10 inches, and on them are several locations, about seven locations, which would tell where the President might be at any time, locations such as the residence, that's one of them, South Grounds is another, Oval Office is another, EOB Office is still another,
West Wing, meaning West Wing of the White House, is another, and Out, I think, is the last one. When the President moves, East Wing is still another, and I think that covers all of the locations, indicated on the box. When the President moves from his Oval Office, for instance, to his Executive Office, Building Office, and he departs the West Wing and crosses the street, it is my understanding that the Secret Service agents, members of the Presidential Protective Division, who cover him, and there are four to five to six of them who would move with him across the street, one of them calls a central location, which may be the police switchboard under the East Wing, or it may be a Secret Service command post, I don't really know. If it's a Secret Service command post, it's in the Executive Office Building,
and says that the President is leaving the West Wing, going to the EOB Office, they would know this. And the little light moves from Oval Office to EOB Office. It doesn't actually move to EOB Office until the President enters the EOB Office. And as that light moves, there is a tiny audio signal, so that if one is preoccupied, such as I might be, I realize that the locator box is indicating a change in the President's location, and that kind of information was important to me. My office was located immediately adjacent to the President's Oval Office on the West Side. My duties involved going in and out frequently and working directly with the President. Mr. Steve Bull, who at that time worked on the other side of the President, on the East Side of the Oval Office, had one of these locator boxes, and Mr. Haldeman had a third. I believe there was a fourth in Mr. Chapin's office.
In fact, I'm sure there was a fourth in Mr. Chapin's office. We were probably the four who would be most concerned, or at least most immediately concerned, with the President's whereabouts or the fact that he was changing locations. In that the Oval Office and the Executive Office Building Office were indicated on this locator box, the installation was installed in such a way that when the light was on Oval Office, the taping device was at least triggered. It was not operating, but it was triggered. It was spring-loaded, if you will. And then it was voice-actuated. So when the light was on Oval Office, in the Oval Office and in the Oval Office only, the taping device was spring-loaded to a voice-actuating situation. When the President went to the EOB Office
and the light was on EOB Office, there was the same arrangement. For those two offices, the arrangement was the same, and the taping picked up all conversation or all noise in those two offices when the light was at those positions. We discussed the Oval Office and the EOB Office. What about the Cabinet Room? Was there a taping device in the Cabinet Room? Yes, sir, there was. Was it activated in the same way? No, sir, it wasn't. My guess is, and it's only my guess, is that because there was no Cabinet Room location, per se, on the locator box, there was only a West Wing indication. When the light was on West Wing, that meant the President was in one of two places, the Cabinet Room or the barbershop. When he went into the Cabinet Room, the light went to West Wing. But he could have been someplace else in the West Wing, and so to ensure the recording of business conversations,
in the Cabinet Room, a manual installation was made. I don't want to hurry you, Mr. Butterfield, but I understand there's a vote in about 12 minutes, so if we could go through it rather rapidly the first time, we might come back up and pick up some of the loose ends. I understand the recording device in the Cabinet Room was manually operated then, is that correct? That's correct. Were there buttons on the desk in the Cabinet Room there that activated that device? There were two buttons. Was there also an activating device on your telephone? Yes, sir. There was an off-on button, or one that said Haldeman, one that said Butterfield, that was on and off, respectively, and one on my telephone. How was the device usually activated, by the buttons or by your telephone activator? To my knowledge, the President did never pay any attention to the buttons at the Cabinet table.
It was activated by the button on my telephone by me. All right. As far as the Oval Office and the O.B. Office is concerned, would it be your opinion? No, sir. No, sir.
1973 Watergate Hearings
Part 2 of 4
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Episode Description
Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer anchor gavel-to-gavel coverage of day 21 of the U.S. Senate Watergate hearings. In today's hearing, Richard Moore, Alexander P. Butterfield and Herbert W. Kalmbach testify.
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Politics and Government
Watergate Affair, 1972-1974
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Anchor: MacNeil, Robert
Anchor: Lehrer, James
Producing Organization: WETA-TV
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Library of Congress
Identifier: 1957609-1-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape
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Chicago: “1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-07-16; Part 2 of 4,” 1973-07-16, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2023,
MLA: “1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-07-16; Part 2 of 4.” 1973-07-16. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 26, 2023. <>.
APA: 1973 Watergate Hearings; 1973-07-16; Part 2 of 4. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from