Monday, June 17, 2013

June 16, 1973

The Ervin Committee hearings have been continuing. The most important witness so far has been Jeb Magruder, but at this point everyone is waiting for John Dean. On the 16th, Dean does his pre-testimony in a closed session. That was the standard committee procedure, but Dean had resisted -- he and his lawyers wanted to stage manage his own testimony, and the executive session ran the risk that his bombshells would be leaked according to someone else's agenda.

Dean was supposed to begin his public, televised testimony during the week of June 18th, but Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, was in the US, and the Watergate Committee agreed to delay until after the Brezhnev-Nixon summit was completed.

Behind the scenes, perhaps the most important thing in this period is that the White House and Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox are already beginning to build to a confrontation.

Emery makes much of Dean's closed door testimony -- Dean brandished Howard Baker's secret meeting with Nixon, presumably to pressure Baker to play nice in the public sessions (or else Dean would imply that Baker was in the pocket of the White House).

And no one wants that. In early June, Nixon's Gallup approval stayed at the same 44% he had been at in mid-May. It's not disaster-level, but his time as a popular president is very much over.

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