Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 2, 1973

John Dean is doing his job by day, and at night he meets with his lawyer and continues to lay out the facts of what actually happened.

And the scheming and plotting is reaching a new level, with everyone now worried about getting sold out. John Mitchell speaks to Dean, and then calls Bob Haldeman -- remember, the White House Chief of Staff -- saying that he is worried about Dean; if Dean "does what he suggests" when he testifies to the grand jury, "he will unravel the whole thing." Then Haldeman talks to Dean. From Haldeman's diary:


[Dean] says his lawyer has told him that he must not talk to Mitchell or Magruder. He says that he would rather take the contempt citation or the Fifth Amendment than to cause anyone a problem, and if it comes down to an impossible position, that's what he'll do, but that opens the potential for indictment. He said Strachan is being worked on by Magruder, that Moore had lunch with Kleindienst and got into the special prosecutor thing, and John feels that's simply a device on Kleindienst's part to avoid Kleindienst having to do in Mitchell. If Dean has to testify and tells the truth, it'll start the whole finger-pointing exercise that he feels would be unbearable. He has no idea what Mitchell said before the grand jury, but Mitchell must consider it will conflict with Dean, or he wouldn't be so worried. O'Brien told Dean Saturday that Jeb [Margurder] was not now concerned with Dean's testimony. Says O'Brien knows all the facts.


OK, it's a blizzard of names, and I perhaps hard to follow in its specifics for those new to the story...but on the other hand, even if you don't know who any of these people are, I suspect the gist of it is pretty clear. And that's without even taking into account that Dean is actually in the process of secretly ratting them all out.

Back to Haldeman:


[T]he P...had E and me in for a couple hours this afternoon. The P said he wanted to make a couple of points on the whole Watergate situation that he felt were very important. First, that the P must be isolated from the discussions [....]. [T]he P has other problems during April and May, with the Congress, the Soviet Summitt, Vietnam, and so on,  and he can't talk to the people who are concerned, that is, Dean, Mitchell, Moore, Colson, [RNC Chair] George Bush, the VP, and all of them. E must get the confidence of all those people and handle the thing for the P.[...]

Second, that there must be no falling-out amongst our people. Having all of them going off in all different directions. We can't have a situation of every man for himself. They're all on the team. No one's going to flush anybody and they must understand that.

He then launched into a fascinating review of the Hiss case...


The VP? At some point during this week, definitely by Thursday but perhaps before, Agnew offered to publicly defend the president -- but only on the condition that Nixon first meet with him. It's an unusual request, but none of them take Agnew very seriously, so it's more an annoyance than anything else (it may well have come in by now, sparking Nixon's new plan to stop meeting with everyone about Watergate).

1 comment:

  1. I'm confused. The President, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean have now talked through the situation repeatedly, but never seem to have come up with a viable plan that gets everyone who's 'on the same team' off the hook. If there's no such possibility, then what are they doing? These are clever and highly experienced politicians- they must have SOME plan, no?!

    Surely, at some point someone needs to get the Committee to Re-Elect guys into a quiet, indefinably yet indisputably sinister room, and explain to them that either way they're going down, but if they take the rap they'll be taken care of, and a Republican president won't be impeached?


    PS Goes without saying: these Watergate posts are absolutely brilliant, thank you JB.


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