Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1, 1972

The big news going on isn't Watergate; it's the Eagleton fiasco, which at this point has George McGovern searching around for a new running mate. But the White House continues to manage the only thing that could still put them in any trouble. Oval Office. Everything is here: the hush money, the prepared perjury, the general obstruction of justice, and the whole den of thieves atmosphere of the thing.

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Haldeman: They scenario on that, they all seem pretty well agreed on now, is that the only danger is Magruder, who does have to go before the grand jury. But Dean has gone over and over it with him, and Jeb is going to stay with his story and stay with it solid, and they think there's no problem if he does, and he will. He will not be indicted, Magruder won't. They will come down with seven indictments, the five plus Liddy [and Hunt], and that's be about September 15 [...]

[Haldeman reports on Dean's sessions with Magruder]

Haldeman: Dean said, "The one thing I'm worried about with you [Magruder]. I know you'll do that; the thing I'm worried about with you is that after you do that, if you don't get indicted, that you'll start running around blabbing about how you pulled yourself out of that. And let me explain to you that there's a five-year statute of limitations on this case and that you're subject to being hauled in any time in the next five years, and you keep your goddamn mouth shut. Don't talk to your wife or your mother or your kids or anybody else. If you get out of this, just remember, you've got this cloud hanging over you for five years --

President Nixon: That's right.
Haldeman: -- and you're not out until that's over.[...]
President Nixon: He feels that they will not indict him?
Haldeman: That's right. They have not made a case against Magruder. A lot of lines lead to him, but they don't tie...
[H]e's going to impeach [CRP treasurer Hugh] Sloan. Sloan is the only one that leads validly to Magruder and Sloan's testimony...inevitably...leads to Magruder. But Magruder's going to say and honestly believes that Sloan pocketed some of the money. There's some discrepancy in how much money went where and Magruder's going to say he thinks Sloan pocketed it.
President Nixon: You don't think he did it?
Haldeman: No. But Magruder does, fortunately. And we're just going to leave it at that.[...]

President Nixon ...Let's be fatalistic about the goddamn thing.
Haldeman: If it blows, it blows.
President Nixon: If it blows, it blows, and so on. I'm not that worried about it, to be really candid with you.
Haldeman: It's worth a lot of work to try and keep it from blowing.
President Nixon: Oh, my, yes.
Haldeman. But if it blows it blows.
President Nixon: After all, Mitchell's gone and...nobody at a higher level was involved, the White House not being involved, and all that stuff. And the Cuban crap in there. Are the Cubans going to plead not guilty?
Haldeman: I don't know. But everybody's satisfied. They're all out of jail, they've all been taken care of. We've done a lot of discreet checking to be sure there's no discontent in the ranks, and there isn't any.
President Nixon: They're all out on bail.
Haldeman: Hunt's happy.
President Nixon: At considerable cost, I guess?
Haldeman: Yes.
President Nixon: It's worth it.
Haldeman: It's very expensive. It's a costly --
President Nixon: That's what the money is for.
Haldeman: -- exercise, but that's better spend than --
President Nixon: Well, ...they have to be paid. That's all there is to that.[...]
[...]
President Nixon: You say no cooperation from the Justice Department. I understand the FBI.
Haldeman: It's been very hard. Peterson has been reasonably good within -- in fact, pretty I guess darn good.
President Nixon: That is scary.
Haldeman: The problem has been [Attorney General] Kleindienst has just totally washed his hands. Now, he's come back in. Ehrlichman hauled him in yesterday and said, "This has gotten ridiculous. Now you've got everything you need. Now for God's sake turn it off, bring your indictments." He seemed to see the light...

--

And by the way, I didn't even include the part of the conversation in which Haldeman reported on the IRS audit of Larry O'Brien -- who was actually being considered for the vice-presidency just then.

8 comments:

  1. Something here definitely blows -- at least that part was true.

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    1. It's a great one, isn't it? I really love the way they talk about Magruder, who after all is a protege of Haldeman. Not to mention Sloan, who was the rare honest man in all of this.

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  2. 1. I like how it was "scary" that the guy at Justice was "pretty good"

    2. As I recall from "Nixonland"--didn't McGovern consider about every Irish-Catholic Democrat in the country one time or the other?

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    1. He certainly asked a lot. Ted Kennedy said no, the head of the United Auto Workers was considered but rejected (he was a Catholic but hadn't been to Mass in 20 odd years or something) and I think they were going to ask the Mayor of Boston but asked Ted and he vetoed the idea. Too bad they didn't ask Biden! (He a county commissioner then I believe but beat an intrenched incumbent to win his Senate seat that year).

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    2. Biden wasn't old enough! Stupid constitutional provision.

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  3. This was the day my eldest sister got married. It didn't last either...

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  4. I'm far from a Watergate expert, but this conversation seems much more damning than the "smoking gun" one. I mean, this one has explicit admissions of suborning perjury and obstruction of justice.

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    1. Well, certainly just as much, anyway.

      Remember that we have far more of the tapes than the independent counsel and Congress had even in August 1974. They only subpoenaed conversations that they knew about, and only a handful of those, anyway. I'm pretty sure that this one remained secret until the mid-1990s. There's still a ton of stuff that hasn't been released, although we're told that all the abuse of power stuff is out, but we'll see.

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