Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 1973

Chuck Colson, now outside of the White House, took a trip out of the country during Patrick Gray's testimony, and now talks to the president on the phone, mainly reassuring him. Nixon knows what's important, however: keeping the White House staff, and John Dean in particular, away from Congress.

Colson: [...] As I told Bob, you do get a completely different feeling when you come back and see the jackassery that is engaged in this town. My God almighty. Just lean back, and there is the Washington Post, big picture of Kalmbach and Chapin, you know, as if that really had any consequence.

President Nixon: Well, that's all they are interested in. But for awhile --

Colson: Well, you are killing us on the issues that are important, Mr. President. I've convinced that you have the country.

President Nixon: Well, we'll get, of course, they are going to have a field day [...]

President Nixon: [...] they will have two or three months of crap, and that's -- we'll survive it, though.

Colson: Oh, hell yes. I really think whatever damage has been done by that issue [Watergate] has been done. And I think, I really think they can overplay it as a matter of fact. They may just go too far with it.

President Nixon: Well, they are going to push everything from executive privilege, probably. They put it to the contempt line with Dean or something, why, we'll just let it go to the Court. Fight it like hell.

Colson: Oh sure. [...]

President Nixon: But that Court, if it turns out that way, well I can't believe they would, because they can't --

Colson: Court wouldn't rule on that, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Well, particularly if there is a double privilege with him. He is both counsel and the other. What the hell, are you going to have him go testify?

Colson: No. Dean, I think, is unassailable. I think the one that would make a stronger case for them would be Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Chapin, or someone like that.

President Nixon: Perhaps Chapin. The three at top are tougher. But Chapin would be the easiest.

Colson: Yes. That would be the easiest one to get to.

President Nixon: I'll have to talk to him about it any way...


One way of looking at the story is that from here on, it's all about executive privilege. And that fight is about to start for real.

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