President Nixon and his chief of staff, another day in the office:
President Nixon: Is there any way, any way, that Ehrlichman's crowd can get these people to plead guilty and get the hell out of the case? How is it working there.[...] Who's watching that end of it? Is that Dean?
President Nixon: What happened to the [Democrats'] rally? Was it the rain? They said some of the stars didn't show up.
Haldeman: Well, that's part of it, but that isn't all of it. It just --
President Nixon: Did we screw it up a little?
Haldeman: We tried. I don't think--I wish I could say we did. We did try to.
President Nixon: How? How did they try?
Haldeman: Well, they tried some sort of dirty stuff on some of the stars.
President Nixon: Calling?
Haldeman: [unintelligible] that they were ruining their reputation by backing [McGovern]. Just calls, pen letter type things.[...] You know, they get three letters saying you're doing wrong, they'll decide not to. It'll scare their agent. You know they'll be afraid they aren't going to get any work.
President Nixon: Their agents will tell them that, all right.
Haldeman: Apparently, with our limited resources in that area, they used the same people for a wide range of things. So you've got them all -- you've got cross-ties in your leading people and all that. If these guys were only no this thing, you could cut them loose and sink them without a trace.
President Nixon: You mean they've been on ITT?
Haldmean: And other stuff.
President Nixon: Black holes?
Haldeman: Apparently a lot of stuff. There's stuff I don't know anything about.
President Nixon: Stuff we know nothing about.
Haldeman: But I've been told that the lines run.
President Nixon: Any other candidates?
Haldeman: Yes. Apparently this is part of the apparatus that's been used for some of these surveillance projects.[...] Apparently there's various lines of interlinkage in the whole damn business.
Meanwhile, in Haldeman's diary: "The problems on Watergate continue to multiply as John Dean runs into more and more FBI leads that he has to figure out ways to cope with.
The CIA/FBI thing was on Friday; this is Monday. Obviously, "turning off" the FBI wasn't all that easy after all (that's one major them of the whole piece); the Acting Director may have been trying to be loyal to the White House, but the agents working the case were not.
Two more things: remember, most of the impeachment fight was over Nixon's claim that he was never involved in the cover-up, and didn't know about it until the next spring. Most of the tapes I'm quoting from, including these two, weren't listened to for years.
The second one: this is only speculation, but it's worth paying attention to how Haldeman talks to his boss about disrupting a McGovern rally. Does it seem that the DNC break-ins and the rest of Gemstone, as well as what the Plumbers had done, were things that the staff would be reluctant to tell the president about? Perhaps, as we've seen, not in incriminating detail...but perhaps they would, after all. With Colson and the others gone now, we'll probably never know, but it's certainly not inconsistent with what Nixon seemed to like to hear, is it?