Monday, February 11, 2013

February 10, 1973

Haldeman's diary:

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San Clemente. We had Dean and [Richard] Moore out for an extended session on the Watergate strategy question and made a little progress in laying out an operational plan there. The main concern was the need to draw (Attorney General) Kleindienst into the case and to keep in in the post through the duration of the hearings and to be a buffer and to take heat where necessary in the Department for things the P needs done. We're regrouping tomorrow on the same subject.

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Over a weekend in California, they tried to assess where they were. On the Ervin Committee, the plan was simple: "public posture of full cooperation but privately attempt to restrain." The key was seen to be keeping White House staff from testifying.

The other question? Emery has Ehrlichman asking it: would the Watergate defendants continue to stick to the story in the Senate, just as they had through the trial? Payments are continuing, Dean reports, but there are also new demands for additional money. Part of the problem, now, is actually coming up with the money; Herbert Kalmbach had turned down a request from Dean and Frank LaRue to raise more money. After the California meetings, they approached John Mitchell with a request to fill in, but Mitchell wanted no part of it.

After all the prospect of a high-profile series of Senate hearings meant that instead of just going to jail (and presumably waiting for clemency), their business done, now Hunt, Liddy, McCord, and the others were going to have to keep reciting the same lies they had been telling in court (well, except for Liddy, who just refused to talk). It also meant that everyone who had been deposed or been a trial witness was going to have to go through it all again, and this time (perhaps) on television. Of course, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean are all eager to get out of a trip to the Hill, especially since they hadn't actually perjured themselves yet (although they had arranged for and, in Dean's case, coached the perjury, so there's that). But as Emery notes, there's a surprising lack of urgency about keeping the hush money going and the Watergate defendants happy.

The other comment: after several months in which Watergate was a background scandal that would, for those inside the White House, flare up occasionally, we're now getting to the point in which it starts becoming the main order of business.

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