But it wasn't over yet. One more step remained: sentencing. And "Maximum John" Sirica wasn't in any hurry. He was confident there was more to what had happened than what was revealed in court (which, remember, is all the prosecutors believed had happened. So he put off sentencing, pressuring the defendants to cooperate with the looming Senate inquiry:
Everyone knows that there's going to be a congressional investigation in this case. I would frankly hope, not only as a judge but as a citizen of a great country and one of millions of Americans who are looking for certain answers, I would hope that the Senate committee is granted the power by Congress by a broad enough resolution to try to get to the bottom in this case.Since we'll be getting more soon, perhaps it's worth viewing the vulnerabilities in the White House strategy.
They are very much worried about the Senate; Nixon, remember, considers Congressional investigations an incredibly valuable political weapon.
And yet problem number one is that they just aren't that worried about James McCord, because what he knows would be hearsay in court. But of course McCord, even if he is limited in the direct legal damage he can do to those who actually authorized Watergate, can do plenty of political damage.
Which leads to problem number two: there's still no fallback plan. From the very beginning, they tried to figure out how to protect some of the president's men if blame went beyond Hunt, Liddy, and the five who were arrested inside the Watergate, and they never could figure it out. Which meant that if anyone else was accused, eventually all of them might be accused.
But that still misses problem number three: the entire cover-up to date has been purely focused on the Watergate break-in and the events leading up to it (including the "White House horrors" before Watergate). They seem to have completely ignored (as Emery points out) that they've all been guilty of obstruction of justice after June 1972, and that a whole lot of people -- including James McCord -- know about it. Nor have they been particularly careful about limiting anyone's criminal or political liability for the cover-up, including the President of the United States.
Of course, if they all stick to the story they've told so far, perhaps they still can get away with it. But Sirica is squeezing, and the Senate is getting ready.