The President of the United States and his Chief of Staff, in the Oval Office:
Haldeman: The Watergate thing is, well --
President Nixon: -- coming to a head --
Haldeman: -- it's on a reasonably good track, considering. The grand jury is going through the 1701 [committee to re-elect] people. Petersen's view to Dean is that what he expects to do -- what he said to Dean once: "I think we're going to be able to finish this grand jury pretty quick, and we'll bring indictments on the seven and we can probably bring them the latter part of August or wait until around mid-September."
And Dean said he got the sense that Petersen was asking for guidance as to which we wanted. But he was also telling him they were going to bring indictments on seven, and that's very good news, because that means they're indicting the Watergate five plus Hunt and Liddy and that's all.
President Nixon: If they indict seven, we trust the ones they're thinking about are Hunt and --
Haldeman: They are. And that would be fine. That's almost an ideal scenario. If they would indict the seven and then not get around to the trial until after the election, we're in pretty good shape.
President Nixon: The trial they'll never get through before the election. The trial will never be finished by the election -- well if the people plead not guilty. If they plead guilty, it would be.
Haldeman: Some of them are going to go not guilty.
President Nixon: Hunt's going to go not guilty.
Haldeman: Hell, yes.
President Nixon: Fight it to the end.
Haldeman: But they've got a lot of motions they've got to go through before they get to the plea, apparently, on the trial. So it may be that by legalisms --
President Nixon: The problem that you've got is that some lower echelon shit-ass at the Justice Department or the FBI will try to leak out stuff about this and that and force, in some way or another, force it in another direction. Fortunately, we have not tried to cover-up, [we] cooperate with the investigations.
Haldeman: The record has to show us in pretty good shape.
Here's something we've seen before: Nixon and the others telling each other that they're not covering up. Of course it's preposterous. Just as far as the president goes, he's been told numerous times that Hunt and Liddy were not, in fact, acting on their own; he certainly knows they received authorized from Jeb Magruder, and basically knows that John Mitchell approved it. He knows that John Dean is managing the cover-up. He knows, obviously, that he ordered Haldeman and Ehrlichman to get the CIA to tell the FBI to back off. But still, he seems to like saying that sort of thing. Perhaps they mean that they're giving the appearance of cooperating (as opposed to just stonewalling). Perhaps, at the moment, they mean it.
At any rate: everything, as you can see, is moving along nicely for them.