Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 15, 1972

"He had the kind of steel and really mean instinct that we needed to clean house after the election."

That's Richard Nixon, in his diary, about his White House counsel, with whom he had an extended meeting on this, one of the big Watergate days -- three months of hard work in preparing perjury and paying hush money have paid off, and indictments have been handed down against Bernard Butler, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Frank Sturgis, James McCord, Howard Hunt, and Gordon Liddy. And no one else.

John Dean, the day to day manager of the cover-up, meets with Bob Haldeman and President Nixon in the Oval Office.


DEAN: Three months ago I would have had trouble predicting where we'd be today.  I think
that I can say that fifty-four days from now that, uh, not a thing will come crashing
down to our, our surprise.
DEAN: Nothing is going to come crashing down to our surprise, either --
PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, the whole thing is a can of worms, as you know.  A lot of this stuff went on.
And, uh, and, uh, and the people who worked (unintelligible) awfully embarrassing.  And, uh, and, the, uh, but the, but the way you, you've handled it, it seems to me, has been very skillful, because you -- putting your fingers in the dikes every time that leaks have sprung here and sprung there. (Unintelligible) having people straighten the (unintelligible).


[Dean brings up some internal fighting at the Committee to Re-elect]

PRESIDENT NIXON: They should just, uh, just behave and, and, recognize this, this is, again, this is war. We're getting a few shots and it'll be over, and we'll give them a few shots and it'll be over.  Don't worry.  I wouldn't want to be on the other side right now.  Would you?  I wouldn't want to be in [Democratic lawyer] Edward Bennet Williams', Williams' position after this election.
DEAN: No.  No.
PRESIDENT NIXON: None of these bastards --
DEAN: He, uh, he's done some rather unethical things that have come to light already [...]
DEAN: He went down --
HALDEMAN: Keep a log on all that.
DEAN: Oh, we are, indeed.  Yeah.
HALDEMAN: Because afterwards that's the guy,
PRESIDENT NIXON: We're going after him.
HALDEMAN: That's the guy we've got to ruin.
DEAN: He had, he had an ex parte --
PRESIDENT NIXON: You want to remember, too, he's an attorney for the Washington Post.
DEAN: I'm well aware of that.
PRESIDENT NIXON: I think we are going to fix the son-of-abitch.  Believe me.  We are going to.  We've got to, because he's a bad man.
DEAN: Absolutely.
PRESIDENT NIXON: He misbehaved very badly in the Hoffa matter.  Our -- some pretty bad conduct, there, too, but go ahead.
DEAN: Well, that's, uh, along that line, uh, one of the things I've tried to do, is just keep notes on a lot of the people who are emerging as,
PRESIDENT NIXON: That's right.
DEAN: as less than our friends.
DEAN: Because this is going to be over some day and they're -- We shouldn't forget the way that some of  them (unintelligible) --
PRESIDENT NIXON: I want the most, I want the most comprehensive notes on all of those that have tried to do us in.  Because they didn't have to do it.

DEAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT NIXON: They didn't have to do it.  I mean, if the thing had been a clo -- uh, they had a very close election everybody on the other side would understand this game.  But now they are doing this quite deliberately and they are asking for it and they are going to get it.  And this, this -- We, we have not used
the power in this first four years, as you know.
DEAN: That's true.
PRESIDENT NIXON: We have never used it.  We haven't used the Bureau and we haven't used the Justice Department, but things are going to change now.  And they're going to change, and, and they're going to get it right --
DEAN: That's an exciting prospect.
PRESIDENT NIXON: It's got to be done.  It's the only thing to do.
HALDEMAN: We've got to.

[The conversation moves later to the Washington Post]

PRESIDENT NIXON: That's right.  Right.  The main thing is the Post is going to have damnable, damnable
problems out of this one.  They have a television station.
DEAN: That's right, they do.
PRESIDENT NIXON: And they're going to have to get it renewed.
HALDEMAN: They've got a radio station, too.
PRESIDENT NIXON: Does that come up too?  The point is, when does it come up?
DEAN: I don't know.  But the practice of nonlicensees filing on top of licensees has certainly gotten more,...
PRESIDENT NIXON: That's right.
DEAN: more active in the, in the area.
PRESIDENT NIXON: And it's going to be God damn active here.
DEAN: (Laughs)
PRESIDENT NIXON: Well, the game has to be played awfully rough.


Actually, on that last point, Nixon had already talked earlier that day to Chuck Colson about the Post's television station licence; Colson told him about it, and suggests "You put a group together with blacks in a way to get to her." According to Emery, Haldeman's notes about the meeting with Dean end was the president saying about all his plans for his enemies after the election: "Anyway, we'll fix 'em."

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