Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 6, 1973

Patrick Gray is back before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a third day, and once again he makes front page headlines -- and once again the squeeze tightens on a key figure:


Senator Kennedy. According to the FBI summary, which is provided for the record, Mr. Dean was present during the FBI interviews at the Wliite House?

Mr. Gray. That is correct, sir.

Senator Kennedy. Is this normal procedure for the FBI?

Mr. Gray. I would say that the honest answer to that question has got to be "No", this is not normal procedure in the normal average

Senator Kennedy. Well, is it ever permitted?

Mr. Gray. Yes, it is indeed.

Senator Kennedy. Where, in what circumstances do you permit other people to sit in during the course of an FBI investigation?

Mr. Gray. We always have the option. Senator, as investigators, to interview an individual with his attorney present or not.

Senator Kennedy. And what do they usually decide?

Mr. Gray. Our preference is to interview individuals without the attorney present, but when the individual states that he wants his attorney to be present, or when an attorney is present, we have to make a decision as to whether to go ahead and interview with or without the attorney being present. This does happen, and with more frequency in today's world. When it occurred, I was advised that Mr. Dean was going to be sitting there in his official capacity as counsel to the President and as part of his responsibility to conduct an inquiry for the President.

I also asked if he interfered with questioning of our agents, and I was advised that at no time did he interfere with the questions.


Senator Kennedy. Well, did you want Mr. Dean to sit in during these investigations? 

Mr. Gray. My preference, if I had had my preference, would have been "No." 
It was just an inner feeling, because I know what the preference of the FBI is, and I knew — it is alwaj^s a situation which is reported to us, at FBI headquarters level, and we have to make a judgment [...]  as to whether or not the FBI is going to proceed with an interview under these conditions. If we want an interview bad enough, we proceed with the attorney present. 

This is happening more frequent  these days, but I don't want you to understand my testimony to be that it is normal
Senator Kennedy. Was he there as an attorney for these people you were interviewing, or as counsel for the President, or as an investigator, or what? 
I fu'ed [?] the question down. The answer came back: No, he is here in his official capacity as counsel for the President of the United States and in the conduct of his investigation. 

While all that was going on, John Dean visited the Oval Office again to give what was becoming a daily update to the president. Dean is getting comfortable meeting with Nixon, as you can tell from a sentence that begins "You know, re-reading your speech on the Hiss case showed..." Not reading; re-reading. 

This time, their conversation is about two things: how to handle the Watergate committee, in particular keeping White House staff (including Dean, of course) from testifying, and the Gray nomination.


Dean: [...] I talked to Pat, oh, maybe four or five times since he was up there last. [...] [Concerning the offer of all FBI Watergate files to the Senate] Today he'll talk about, you know, he's going to infringe upon the rights of individuals[...] and really close the store down today. That's what he's supposed to do. Now, he was reminded, when -- and he mentioned it to me. He said, "I know my nominations can be withdrawn."

President Nixon: ...[Y]ou wonder whether we were right in sending Gray down. What do you think? Were we or not? 

Dean: It gives pause, but I think we're right in the long run, and I think today will be the test, the way he performs up there today, and if that's continued, you know, sort of abandon for everybody else, except for Pat Gray, then I think we really have to reassess.

President Nixon: Well, he's got to determine whether he's going to play. Goddamn,...he's the director of the FBI. There are plenty of men that could direct the FBI if they're going to play it non-politically.


Dean is getting used to talking to Nixon...but Nixon is also getting used to talking with Dean. Just as Dean starts showing up regularly in front-page newspaper articles about Watergate. Kennedy also quizzed Gray that day about the (fictional, but no one knew it at the time) Dean investigation that supposedly proved that no one in the White House was involved in Watergate...Gray is destroying his own nomination, but more importantly he's forging a trail straight to John Dean. 

And don't forget: Dean is also, still, supposed to be baby sitting the Watergate defendants, who are still awaiting sentencing as Judge Sirica pressures them to finally break with the stories they've told. 


  1. There are plenty of men that could direct the FBI if they're going to play it non-politically.

    NIXON: Yeah, sheesh -- if all we wanted was a really good, highly competent director, someone who would do credit to the nation's premier law-enforcement agency by running it for its intended purpose, you think we'd be mucking around with idiots like Gray? Did the guy not get the memo? We've got plenty of GOOD candidates if that were the point. Y'know, like all those Jews we've got around here. Some of them would be great. It's just that they don't like Nixon, John, they've never liked Nixon! But y'know, we should have a list of them anyway. Just in case this Gray thing goes south, I mean. Get Chuck to look into that, will ya, John? What's that? Can you say that again into the ficus tree, please? You've been doing a great job here by the way. Chuck too. Tell him I said so. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, John: I don't mean to say that ONLY Jews are good at their jobs. You fellas, you've really kept the lid on this [indaudble] thing.

    * * * * *

    Been reading this series so long, I'm starting to think like Nixon. Not good.

    1. That was genuinely hilarious.

  2. This series is addictive. HBO should do a mini series.

  3. I can't wait until we get to John Dean's testimony (beginning June 25)...that was one amazing appearance. Even though I was allegedly deep into writing the first couple of chapters of my dissertation, what I was really doing was watching the hearings.

    1. I watched them too. Can those of us who actually saw this stuff live get some kind of Watergate veterans' award, like a Purple Heart kind of thing?

    2. I have memories of watching the hearings, but not really memories of the hearings themselves (if that makes sense). I think I was reading the newspapers by then, but mostly just the sports section.

      I do have a clear memory(although of course who knows) of hearing on the car radio, on the way home from Hebrew school, about Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean and Kleindeinst leaving.

    3. I remember hearing on the car radio (also as a kid) that ML King had been assassinated. But how about this: Although I had followed Watergate avidly, I missed Nixon's resignation speech. I was traveling by bus that day, made a tourist stop and was looking down from the top of the St. Louis Arch (I think literally as he was speaking, although my memory may have adjusted the timing slightly for dramatic effect).


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