Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 9. 1973

There's a Gallup poll in the field that finishes up today; Richard Nixon's approval ratings is at 54% for April 6-9. It had been generally been circling around 60% for most of the last few months, but has now been falling since it spiked up in January (presumably on Vietnam news). So Nixon is still reasonably popular (he had, after all, won a massive landslide in November), but not quite as much so as had been the case.

Haldeman's diary:


Had a long discussion [with Nixon] about the monitoring facilities in his offices and he wants them all taken out, but then he later changed his mind[...]. He's obviously concerned about having everything covered [...]


President Nixon: Oh, what the hell, even, frankly, I don't want to have in the record discussions we've had in this room on Watergate. You know, we've discussed a lot of that stuff.
President Nixon: ...[W]e out to (unintelligible), prove we never discussed anything from --

Haldeman: Oh, yea, you can prove, but who are you going to prove it to? For any practical purpose, what are you going to do?

President Nixon: That's right. When you think of all the discussions there have been in this room [...]


President Nixon: Ziegler went out and called it a third-rate burglary.

Haldeman: A third-rate burglary.

President Nixon: Right, so he must have thought it was a joke.

Haldeman: Right.

President Nixon: ...John Dean's concern, as I understand it, really is what he did afterwards, all his activists in which he did basically coach the witnesses (unintelligible). Well, he did help get some money.

Haldeman: His concern is his potential technical violation in the money.


(This all from Kutler, except the very top sentence from here)

What's interesting here is that this segment, in the same conversation that they mention the tapes, could easily have been deliberately laying the groundwork for what will become the cover-up of the cover-up: that John Dean ran the cover-up alone without Nixon's knowledge, and that Nixon only discovered it in March. Or perhaps they're just summing up where they usual, they retrace the same ground, over and over: what Dean and Magruder will testify to, whether John Mitchell will step up and take responsibility, how Watergate was authorized in the first place...all the same stuff. Although, with the discussion about the tapes, Nixon at least is clearly now thinking about defending himself; this isn't only about keeping the scandal out of the White House any more.

Meanwhile, John Ehrlichman meets with Sam Ervin and Howard Baker to further negotiate over the upcoming hearings. Most of that, which Ehrichman reports back to Nixon that evening by telephone, is over John Dean -- a conversation which will be moot very soon, even though none of them know that yet.

And, still, Ehrlichman is pushing for the Watergate Committee to also consider Democratic misbehavior during at least 1972, with Baker and even Ervin giving him some positive reactions to that. Including, still, the alleged bugging of Nixon's plane in 1968, something they still seem to believe will somehow help them.

Overall, a relatively quiet day, but the week is just getting started.


  1. On the subject of the bugging of Nixon's plane, did you see this BBC report?

    "[Johnson] orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved."

    I found this article fascinating in light of your Watergate blogging.

  2. When does Watergate actually start hurting him?

    1. It appears to be hurting him already. But from here, it only gets worse.

      (The Gallup poll isn't the only one they had, but there were a lot fewer polling operations, and Gallup isn't anywhere close to today's constant tracking poll. So some of it is guesswork).


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