Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 11, 1973

Haldeman's diary:

[Mitchell] also was concerned that Dean's testimony would be the one thing that could really unscramble the whole operation. We should try to get Dean not to go to the grand jury, in his opinion. I mentioned this to the P. He's quite concerned about it. Told me to talk to E. He was raising the question of whether that is the linchpin in the whole thing...


The P still obviously very concerned about the whole issue and spending quite a little time on it. E meets this evening with Ervin and Baker to try to resolve the ground rule question of whether we go up to the Senate and how. Dean is still concerned on the whole grand jury question. Magruder called and wanted guidance from me on what to do, and I had Larry [Higby?, Haldeman's assistant] call him back and say I couldn't give him any guidance, that he should do what his layer tells him to, and he apparently wasn't satisfied with that and said, well, he hated to do it, and he wanted us to know he was still on the team, but he was going to have to go ahead, if that's what we said, and we was going up to tell Mitchell that tomorrow. Looks like we're nearing the moment of truth and everybody's getting a little panicky in the crunch.


It's pretty clear everything is caving in, even if they don't realize quite how badly. John Ehrlichman actually does something potentially helpful on the 11th: he calls Attorney General Kleindienst with a last-ditch request: do not give immunity to anyone who testifies. It's probably the one thing that could have slowed the train down at that point, but it's too late. Kleindienst (who was himself on the front page that day after a contentious Congressional hearing about executive privilege) calls Henry Peterson, the head of the criminal division and the  one authorized to cut deals, but that's the end of the story. Peterson later said that it seemed to come out of the blue to him, a curious request at the time. Dean's demand for total secrecy from the prosecutors was holding. But, at any rate, Ehrlichman's effort is wasted. Indeed: by now, there are a lot of people at Justice who (after McCord, at least) have a lot of egg on their faces and aren't going to be eager to squelch anything. While they still have the chance: more people are talking about a special prosecutor by now, one beyond the president's reach.

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