Monday, January 7, 2013

January 6, 1973

Continuing the recent theme: according to Stephen Ambrose's biography of Nixon, today was Chuck Colson's turn, again, to tell Nixon that "this could stretch into the White House." Nixon asked, "You mean Bob and John?" Which was exactly who Colson meant -- Haldeman and Ehrlichman. 

The biggest development of the day was outside of the Oval Office, however. Two days before the trial was scheduled to start, the White House Counsel was hard at work making sure nothing would go wrong. That meant John Dean called Gordon Liddy, telling him (according to Liddy at least) that "Everyone's going to be taken care of Gordon." Liddy was, as it turned out, the least of their problems, but (again in Liddy's version, as quoted by Emery) Dean offered him: 

1. Living expenses $30,000 per annum
2. Pardon within 2 years
3. Danbury prison
4. Legal fees.

Liddy was never a problem, whatever the White House thought, or at least he certainly didn't talk until much later, sticking to is version of a code of honor. But Howard Hunt was pushing hard for assurances that week, mostly through  Colson, who was his closest contact. Colson had spoken to the president already -- for of course only Nixon could promise pardons -- and Nixon, on January 6th, in his personal diary, wrote of his meeting with Colson the previous day:


Colson told me on Friday that he had tried to do everything he could to keep Hunt in line from turning state's evidence. After what happened to Hunt's wife, etc., I think we have a very good case for showing some clemency.


The word was passed along, carefully. Colson met with Hunt's lawyer, telling him "You know, a year is a long time. And clemency is something that's generally considered around Christmas time here at the White House."

The trial is coming. They know it means another round of perjury, and bad publicity. But if they can just get everyone to stick with the story for a bit more, they think that they'll be in pretty good shape.

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