Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 1973

Remember that Vice President Agnew has been demanding a meeting with the president? Haldeman's Diary:


The VP called me over today and said he had a real problem because Jerome Wolff, who used to work for him back in Maryland, was about to be called by the United States Attorney who was busting open campaign contribution cases and kickbacks to contractors. It seems that Wolff kept verbatim records of meetings with the VP and others, back over the years, concerning fund-raising, and has a lot of quotes about how much we ought to get from a certain contractor, and so on, who has had good jobs. It wasn't shakedown stuff, it was merely going back to get support from those who had benefited from the Administration, but the way it's worded, the VP feels it would sound bad.


Watergate is a complicated, convoluted case of abuse of power and conspiracy and lawbreaking. The Spiro Agnew story? Whenever I think of it, I always picture large cartoon bags of money with big dollar signs on them. Agnew. At any rate, Agnew was finished, but the news would remain a closely held secret for a long while still.

Meanwhile, in the Oval Office, Nixon and Ehrlichman go over the ground that the president and his chief of staff went through yesterday:


Ehrlichman: Well, I think the less personal participation you have in this right at this juncture -- the better.

President Nixon: I better not talk to Dean. It is not necessary. Dean knows that I care about him.

Ehrlichman: Well -- and we're -- we're in touch with him. He's not abandoned by any means...

President Nixon: He's going to say, what, that he and Mitchell worked together?

Ehrlichman: He's going to say that he and Mitchell worked it out, that's about right. Yep.

President Nixon: This money was contributed by whom?

Ehrlichman: Well, I'm not going to answer that. I have an idea. I think some of the Kalmbach's contributors came through with most of it. I suspect that, what's his name, LaRue, either put up some of it or got somebody to put up some of it.

President Nixon: What would Dean answer?

Ehrlichman: He probably said he doesn't know. And I don't think he does...Well, Mitchell knows. He may not know where Kalmbach got his.

President Nixon: This was money in other words that was raised?

Ehrlichman: The went around to contributors after the elections in effect.


President Nixon: [...] I mean as a member of the White House staff -- he [Dean] has a right to help him [Mitchell], a perfectly legitimate thing. Well, I can see through Mitchell on a thing like this with -- Mitchell (unintelligible) of course we weren't trying to shut them out. These people were people that had been employed by the committee, and they engaged in illegal activities. We felt they were entitled to assistance until they had a trial which took a long time to get to trail, and that was all, gentlemen. That's what he [Dean] has to say.

Ehrlichman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Hush-up money -- didn't seem to work, did it?

Ehrlichman: Well, more than that. These defendants had a right to be quiet. It wasn't as if they weren't exercising a right. He can weave that in there.

President Nixon: Well, it's quite true. The defendants didn't have to talk. I mean we didn't -- (unintelligible) they were -- was anybody asking them to talk at this point?...


President Nixon: ...I guess, John, we just got -- got -- everybody just got through this thing -- the real key thing to this thing now is Mitchell. Mitchell has got to decide, because he -- I don't think he's going to get all these guys to stand up there and lie, that's what it gets down to.


President Nixon: ...The one really that's going to pull the plug on Colson is Hunt...I don't think he'd [Hunt] pull the plug on his earlier ventures for us, do you?

Ehrlichman: We would have done it by now if he was going to do it...

President Nixon: that's right. so, ...what is Hunt going to do? What does he say with his so-called February ultimatum? Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...


Remember that Nixon knows the tapes are rolling and Ehrlichman doesn't, but both men seem to slip back and forth between acting ignorant of material they know very well and then acknowledging things that are certainly incriminating. It's a favorite Nixon pattern; I mention the tapes because Nixon himself had been talking about them yesterday, so he may be even more aware of creating an evidence trail than usual. Or perhaps that was just how he did things.

Emery supplies the remainder of a very busy day. As far as Dean and Mitchell are concerned, those two met for the final time that day -- with Dean rejecting the prosecutors' request that he wear a wire. Dean let Mitchell know that he was testifying and that he would be placing the blame on the CRP; Mitchell urged him, for the last time, not to talk; Dean told Mitchell to get a lawyer. At least, that's Dean's version of it.

With Dean on his way out -- they knew that even if they didn't know what was coming -- Nixon hired Leonard Garment to take Dean's place. Garment told Nixon to clean house.

And Jeb Magruder finally told his own lawyers the full story of what he knew. Magruder had realized his position was impossible and retained attorneys over a week ago, but was still looking for a third way between further participation in the cover-up and turning fully against Haldeman and Nixon, but there was no third way. Of course, Magruder knows everything about the original break-in and quite a bit about the cover-up, but doesn't have Dean's knowledge of the extent of the president's involvement -- or of the rest of the top White House staff. But he's dangerous enough.

The cover-up -- the attempt to hide the true story of the Watergate break-in -- is just about at an end. But can they cover up the cover-up?


  1. Let me add my voice to the thanks others have expressed over this terrific and gripping series. I was in law school as this was all happening live, and could not follow it in detail. (I still cannot keep track of who is who without a score card.) Your method of combining the events chronologically (as opposed to when people learned about things) helps enormously, and your occasional asides (e.g., Nixon knows about the tapes, others don't) are also useful. Thanks so much. I'm an addict!

  2. Sounds like Agnew saw himself as an Accidental Extortionist.


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