President Nixon and Bob Haldeman seem to be spending most of their time on trying to figure out how to dump Spiro Agnew for John Connally, at least according to Haldeman's diary.
Meanwhile, though, the Plumbers are in action. E. Howard Hunt, in particular. He had been hired the first week of July, and charged, he said later, with being the new White House expert on Vietnam -- that is, on how the war started, or, actually, what dirt they could dig up on the Kennedys. John Ehrlichman paved the way with a phone call to the CIA to ask them to cooperate with Hunt...I should backtrack a bit. This is John Ehrlichman, the #2 guy on the White House staff behind only Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman. Ehrlichman was in charge of coordinating domestic policy -- you know, really policy, such as the economy and the environment and race and whatever. Anyway, he got Hunt started, and asked the CIA to help.
Hunt stared by interviewing a CIA expert on Vietnam. Unfortunately, while Hunt was trying to learn about the coup against South Vietnam President Diem in 1963, he failed to use his tape recorder correctly, and lost it all. Oh well.
Next, a trip to New England, to meet with someone who they heard knew something about Chappaquiddick (wait a second...Chappaquiddick? A White House aide was doing this?). Chuck Colson authorized Hunt to go. But Hunt wasn't just a regular staffer; he fancied himself, uh, well, uh, let me just tell the story. He decided he needed a disguise, so he went out on July 22, 1971 to Langley (remember, Ehrlichman had paved the way) and got over the next days various way-out CIA disguise stuff...a full wallet of fake ID for a phony name, hair and glasses and (Fred Emery's description) a "speech-altering device that gave him a lisp and a gait-altering device to make him limp."
Then he went up to Rhode Island and met with a guy who said that Ted Kennedy had been to parties, but no, he couldn't talk about Chappaquiddick. You know, the kind of thing he probably could have said in a phone call.
Howard Hunt is going to be a lot of fun.