The Senate votes unanimously to establish the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, with Sam Ervin as chair, a 4-3 Democratic majority and a staff to match, and a mandate to look into Nixon's 1972 campaign and related activities but nothing else.
In the New York Times, Seymour Hersh identified Gordan Strachan, Haldeman's aide, as the White House contact for Liddy and Hunt when they were at the committee to re-elect (and, also, the contact for dirty trickster Donald Segretti).
Both are blows to the White House, which had hoped for a bipartisan committee which would investigate other campaigns, including Lyndon Johnson's in 1964 and Hubert Humphrey's in 1968.
The president and his men discuss the Senate's actions:
Ziegler: It seems to me that we should say that if the intend of the Ervin committee is to examine this whole area, not only in 1972 but back to '60, 1964, and 1968, and, as Senator Ervin says, it is not going to be partisan in nature, then, of course, we would be supportive and cooperate.
President Nixon: Is it limited to 1972?
Ehrlichman: The bill of particulars is very specific. It's the presidential election of this last time, and particularly as to the Republicans.
President Nixon: It says that?
Ehrlichman: All the way through it.
Ehrlichman: There's an aspect of this that you may want to allude to, Ron [Ziegler] -- I don't know. The Watergate defendants are going to claim that Sirica should not sentence them because he exhibited such malice and prejudice. [...]
President Nixon: Of course, we should have in mind that obviously...the scope of the investigation must of course be dependent upon the status of any proceedigs that are in the courts and must not under any circumstances be allowed to impede or -- well, interfere with the rights of defendants to get a fair trial and a fair appeal.
Ehrlichman: Due regard for the rights of others.
President Nixon: Due regard for the rights of defendants to get a trial.
Ehrlichman: Now, that's being advance to Ervin privately, and I don't know what effect it might have...But what may happen is that one of the defendants will seek an injunction to prevent the hearings from going forward, and then you've got a nice Constitutional question of whether a court can enjoin the proceedings of the Congress and it'll get all snarled up.
President Nixon: They're going to have Tower and Wilson on the Committee on our side.
Haldeman: What they were talking about yesterday was Tower and Griffin.
President Nixon: ...And Griffin has a good image...
Haldeman: [...] And if it does go on television, he looks like a serious, intense type.
President Nixon: Oh, it'll be on television.
President Nixon: The problem with the -- all this is that it is going to be a television story. But, on the other side of the coin, it may -- may -- wear out the story after a certain length of time.
Haldeman: You hear the same old crap over and over, and I just can't imagine that the people really get very interested.
All of that was before the Senate acted. The Senate debated the question, and Republican amendments were rejected -- Ervin said of a Republican amendment to add in the 1964 and 1968 elections that "to accept this amendment would be about as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits."
As it turned out, the reports Nixon had about the composition of the committee -- which, during the floor debate, was changed from a five to a seven Senator committee -- were wrong. The Republicans would be Howard Baker, Lowell Weicker, and Edward Gurney; the Democrats, in addition to Chairman Ervin, were Daniel Inouye, Joseph Montoya, and Herman Talmadge.
There's a lot of hand waiving and wishful thinking in the Oval Office that day, but Nixon was exactly right about television. And Haldeman couldn't have been more wrong.