Wars of Watergate
Needs to be polished up at the end - still multiple chapters of quotes that were not captured from the Kindle. Revisit starting with Jaworski, the tapes, and the Saturday Night Massacre.
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- 1 Chapter Summaries
- 1.1 Book One: Of Time And The Man: Discord, Disorder, and Richard Nixon
- 1.2 Book Two: First Term, First Wars
- 1.3 Book Three: The Watergate War: Origins and Retreat, June 1972-April 1973
- 1.3.1 Chapter 8: "We should come up with... imaginative dirty tricks." The Watergate Break-in
- 1.3.2 Chapter 9: "What really hurts is if you try to cover it up." Watergate and the Campaign of 1972
- 1.3.3 Chapter 10: "The cover-up is the main ingredient." A Blackmailer, a Senator, and a Judge: November 1972-March 1973
- 1.3.4 Chapter 11: "We have a cancer within, close to the Presidency." Covering Up the Cover-Up: January-March 1973
- 1.3.5 Chapter 12: "We have to prick the Goddam boil and take the heat." Cutting Loose: April 1973
- 1.4 Book Four: The Watergate War: Disarray and Disgrace, May 1973-August 1974
- 1.4.1 Chapter 13: New Enemies. The Special Prosecutor and the Senate Committee: May 1973
- 1.4.2 Chapter 14: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" The Senate Committee: Summer 1973
- 1.4.3 Chapter 15: "Let Others Wallow in Watergate." Agnew, the Tapes, and the Saturday Night Massacre: August-October 1973
- 1.4.4 Chapter 16: "Sinister Forces." Ford, Jaworski, Tape Gaps, and Taxes: November-December 1973
- 1.4.5 Chapter 17: "Fight." Tapes and Indictments: January-May 1974
- 1.4.6 Chapter 18: "Well, Al, there goes the Presidency." The House Judiciary Committee: June-July 1974
- 1.4.7 Chapter 19: Judgment Days. The Supreme Court and the Judiciary Committee: July 1974
- 1.4.8 Chapter 20: "I hereby resign." August 1974
- 1.5 Book Five: The Impact and Meaning of Watergate
Book One: Of Time And The Man: Discord, Disorder, and Richard Nixon
Chapter 1: Breaking Faith: The 1960s
Aftermath of Kennedy's death; Johnson's leislative agenda (1963-64); 6 mo. period (Great Society); taxes, civil rights, mass transit, clean air, wilderness, training programs, anti-poverty; broad, but not deep, support; negative reputation and image (wheeler-dealer, manipulator); 1964 election vs. Goldwater; 61% of popular vote; people voting for Johnson despite mistrust of him; rhetoric: don't get involved in Vietnam; swollen Democratic majority; continuation of legislation (War on Poverty); outbreak of violence in 1965; antiwar ralliesincreasing involvement in Vietnam; thin-skinnedness with press & public opinion; foreign policy spilling over into domestic policy, causing turmoil & upheval; supportive view of war by public in public opinion polls until 1967; lack of thoughtful policy; transformation of Presidential powers/office (growth); McCarthy and R. Kennedy challenges to Johnson in '68; Johnson dropped out of race (March 1968); 486k troops in Vietnam
Chapter 1 Quotes
[In the 1964 campaign,] Johnson had a veritable monopoly on the peace corner. Speaking in Eufaula, Oklahoma, on September 25, he could not resist gilding the lily: "There are those that say you ought to go North and drop bombs, to try to wipe out supply lines, and they think that would escalate the war. We don't want our American boys to do the fighting for Asian boys. We don't want to get involved... with 700 million people and get tied down in a land war in Asia." In the meantime, Barry Goldwater was the candidate who reputedly wanted to "lob one into the men's room in the Kremlin."
In retrospect, Johnson complained that "that bitch of a war" took him away from "the woman I really loved" - his Great Society. The war ruptured the nation, sparking unprecedented anger and resistance to government policies.
Clark Clifford, one of the few men Johnson held in awe, warned in July 1965 that the war was futile. "I don't believe we can win in South Vietnam," he said. "If we send in 100,000 more men, the North Vietnamese will meet us. If North Vietnam runs out of men, the Chinese will send in volunteers. Russia and China don't intend for us to win the war." Clifford urged that we get out "honorably." Otherwise, he warned, "I can't see anything but catastrophe for my country."
"There will be some Nervous Nellies and some who will become frustrated and break ranks under the strain," the President remarked. There would be those who would "turn on their leaders and on their country and on our fighting men. There will be times of trial and tensions in the days ahead that will exact the best that is in all of us."
Johnson's patriotic homilies were inadequate. George Washington, at Valley Forge in 1778, warned that whoever built upon patriotism as a sufficient basis for conducting a long and bloody war "will find themselves deceived in the end." Such a war, Washington insisted, could never be sustained by patriotism alone. "It must be aided by a prospect of Interest or some reward. For a time, it may, of itself push Men to action; ...but it will not endure unassisted by Interest." Nevertheless, Johnson and his advisers "wrapped themselves in the flag," decrying the "Nervous Nellies" who opposed the war. Deception and self-delusion alike pervaded the Johnson Administration's conduct of the war.
Johnson was described by a contemporary as "king of the river and a stranger to the sea." He was a clever navigator of the congressional stream, paddling deftly through its pools and eddies, ever alert for the occasional sandbar. But in the open sea of foreign policy, with its shifting, almost imperceptible currents, its swells and tempests - there he was out of his depth. He could not be the master he wished to be, and this only embittered and frustrated him more. What he knew best did not apply in these unpredictable waters. International politics was not domestic politics writ large.
The history of presidential power is a history of aggrandizement; the transformation of the office in the twentieth century alone has been remarkable. Economic dislocation, global wars, and the assumption of world leadership have focused power in the presidency, and with it the rapt attention of a fascinated, often adoring, public.
Chapter 2: Making Many Nixons: 1913-1965
Flashback from 1968 election (Nixon's "coronation"); dominant figure in 20th century politics; childhood; "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser"; Whittier, Duke Law School; 1937 return to CA as lawyer; 1940, marriage; 1942, Washington, Officer Candidate School (Navy); South Pacific service; 1946, public office campaign, beat Rep. Jerry Voorhis by 15,000 votes out of 150,000 total; Chotiner (person running campaign); member of House Labor Committee and House Committee on Un-American Activities; 1948, Alger Hiss appeared before Committee; Chambers-Hiss conflict; Nixon gained publicity by leading the case against Hiss; 1950 California Senate seat opened up; Nixon campaigned against Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas, expected campaign of hyperbole & innuendo, "Pink right down to her underwear"; emergence of "Tricky Dick" image; won by >600k votes; nominated for V.P. in 1952; publicity about a campaign fund; negative press; appeared on TV - Checkers speech; emergence of Nixon into national prominence; dislike of Nixon by many in Eisenhower administration; failure to get rid of him for 1956 ticket; 1959 went to Russia ("Kitchen Debate" w/ Khrushchev); emergence as candidate in 1960 Pres. campaign; dominance of new media/image in campaign, failure of Nixon in debates (too much "substance", not enough "style"); lost by 113k votes out of 68 million cast; returned to California, to law firm; challenged Pat Brown for CA governorship in 1962, lost (CA voters didn't think he had enough experience to govern California); "last" press conference held after election; went to NY in 1963 to join Wall Street firm, Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander; handled Supreme Court case; backed Goldwater in 1964; biding his time; helped regroup the Republican Party after Goldwater's defeat
Chapter 2 Quotes
"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
- Wallace Newman, Nixon's football coach at Whittier
More tellingly and more cuttingly, [Adlai] Stevenson derided Nixon as a comic figure, describing him as the "kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump for a speech on conservation."
"He worked like a horse and learned the law," [Leonard] Garment recalled, comparing Nixon's effort to starting "athletic life by doing the Olympic decathlon."
Chapter 3: "Bring Us Together": 1965-1968
Nixon's political limbo ("in the wilderness") and path to WH; campaign trail 1966; becoming Johnson's debating partner; Republican gains in '66; Nixon appealing to Goldwater Republicans, moderate Republicans, Eisenhower; attacked by Johnson; 1967, began to prepare for Presidential run, touching bases; country coming apart; MLK assassination, new wave of race riots; protesters, & opposing "Silent Majority"; "law-and-order"/old-fashioned Democrats vs. new, protest Democrats; '68 primary season, Nixon struck his law and order theme; further division of Democrats by Wallace campaign; give Nixon a chance to appeal to the center; George Romney (MI governor in Democratic stronghold) was other Republican candidate; "brainwashing" comment, too straightforward, Vietnam problems; August 1968: Republican National Convention in Miami; Goldwater not credible, but Reagan was Goldwater surrogate appealing to Goldwater's base; elected governor of California (defeated Pat Brown) in 1966; Reagan-Rockefeller alliance to defeat Nixon; Nixon maneuvered to guarantee Southern delegation (South Carolina senator J. Strom Thurmond), made deals about busing, segregation, Supreme Court justices; Democratic National Convention in Chicago was disaster, McCarthy vs. Humphrey vs. Kennedy; protests erupted into violence in Chicago streets; reinforcement of fears of Silent Majority; Humphrey emerged as candidate thanks to Daley machine; Nixon focused campaign on alienated middle; avoided discussion of Vietnam and other difficult issues; "New Nixon" sold to media; changing to meet the needs of his audience; NH primary, pledged to end war; pushed to reveal his plan; scheduled speech, then Johnson address scheduled, so Nixon's speech canceled; focused on issue of domestic peace; Aug 8, 1968: accepted party's nomination; appealed to "quiet voices" and the "nonshouters"; October, Paris negotiations with North Vietnamese looked like they would promise a breakthrough; 27 October: Nixon charged political opportunism; 31 October: Johnson halted bombing and said peace talks in Paris would resume 6 November; people saw it as political opportunism; Nixon won, 43.4% vs. 42.7% (Humphrey) and remainder (Wallace); 2.5 million less than 1960 total; 3/10 white voters voting for Johnson in '64 voted for Nixon or Wallace in '68; Humphrey conceded on November 6, Nixon gave speech (sign, "Bring Us Together")
Chapter 3 Quotes
The important, sustained revolution came from within the ranks of what had been the dominant political coalition. The "risen" middle class, the blue- and white-collar workers, and ethnics who had nourished the growth of the Democratic majority, now found themselves unhappy with the young protesters who were the new cohabitants of its political home. The protesters' challenges to cherished views of the American way of life, the criticisms of what was wrong with America, left the "old-fashioned Democrats" confused, shaken, and above all frightened, especially as events took a violent turn. Whatever their own disenchantment with the Vietnam war, they hardly identified themselves with the public expressions of outrage by disaffected groups. A political alliance between protesters and conventional Democrats simply was improbable. The latter had little sympathy fo the blacks and dispossessed who, in their minds, had not worked to achieve the American Dream. Their disdain, even contempt, for the alienated young campus radicals was as powerful. After all, these were the spoiled, pampered, comfortable children of those above - or even their own ungrateful offspring.
"Things have come to some pass when a Republican candidate for President has to take counsel with his advisers about whether he should attend the funeral of a Nobel Prize winner."
- Leonard Garmet, Nixon's law partner, 1968
Perhaps there was no New Nixon - just new perceptions. Howard Phillips, a militant conservative who had idolized Nixon since his teen years, believed that the man never really changed. Speaking in the last days of the Nixon Administration in 1974, as he issued a "conservative manifesto" calling for the President's resignation, and at a time when talk of a New Nixon had faded and the Old Nixon appeared very much restored, Phillips said: "Throughout his public career, Mr. Nixon has always tried to please his audience, seeking their confidence and admiration by becoming the man he thinks they want him to be. The changing perceptions of Nixon - the New Nixon, the Old Nixon, the statesman, the strategist - do not reflect a change in the man but in the audience to which he is at any moment appealing."
Book Two: First Term, First Wars
Chapter 4: "The Man On Top"
Nixon beginning first term; iron triangle (legislators, bureaucracy, lobbyists) made into iron square by Nixon adding the media; broadening of Vietnam War during first 2 years of Nixon's presidency, and corresponding militancy of antiwar protests; worries about leaks; general views of Nixon's 1st term (domestic policies far outstripped foreign policy achievements); transformations of Presidency into monarchical court, starting with Eisenhower; Nixon continued Johnson's role (intensity of involvement); President & aides treating Congress like it only existed to follow instructions; Haldeman and Ehrlichman role, public visibility to take heat for President; Haldeman's role was to isolate the President; dissemination of tasks/directives via Haldeman; Nixon encouraged/practiced compartmentalization, ensuring fragmentation of power; Dent: "The man on top was on top"; two Nixons: idealistic/thoughtful/generous Nixon, and vindictive/petty/emotional Nixon; a President in command - with whatever personality was momentarily dominant in his psyche; Nixon's view of Cabinet as an extension of RN and Oval Office; "I've always thought this country could run itself domestically without a President, all you need is a competent Cabinet to run the country at home. You need a President for foreign policy" - but FAR from the truth; Cabinet secretaries seen as spokesman for RN; Kissinger: RN trusted his aides more than his Cabinet, due to political/personal needs, need to enhance image & power, and protect public standing; Nixon stated he had to adopt "complex political strategies" (PR, preoccupation with "the opposition") to secure his program, become an "activist President in domestic affairs... Knock heads together in order to get things done"; after 2 years Nixon saw PR failure, while in fact he had been in public's eye for 20+ years, so their perception of him had crystallized; venting against bureaucracy (as convenient safety valve for political frustration); Nixon-Kissinger established group of people to run foreign policy, bypassing Department of State; autonomy of bureaucracy severely reduced; control over operation of bureaucracies led to parallel systems of activity; Huston Plan (Tom Huston): Feb. 1970, proposed procedures for internal security handling, consolidation of intelligence-gethering; 5 June 1970: met with FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, NSA: development of plan to curtail illegal activities of society's enemies; Huston & Sullivan (3rd in FBI) bypassed Hoover; Hoover's reluctance to break law led to scuttling of plan by President; Huston plan still pursued; led to formation of Plumbers
Chapter 4 Quotes
"It was all warm and friendly until... Bob Haldeman arrived."
- Rose Mary Woods, Nixon's personal secretary since 1951
Compartmentalization ensured fragmentation of power, precisely what Nixon desired. (Of course, the technique was not new; Franklin D. Roosevelt was a past master at such administrative dealings.)
"I've always thought this country could run itself domestically without a President," Nixon said in 1967. "All you need is a competent Cabinet to run the country at home. You need a President for foreign policy; no Secretary of State is really important; the President makes foreign policy." This oft-repeated mark implied that Nixon really had little interest in domestic affairs and was prepared to allow a "competent Cabinet" to run its own course. Nothing was further from the truth. In his eyes, the Cabinet was only an extension of Richard Nixon and the Oval Office; he well realized how domestic affairs intersected with political and public-relations considerations which in turn vitally affected his public standing.
John F. Kennedy's aide and biographer, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., recalled many instances of his and Kennedy's frustration in getting the bureaucracy to respond to policy directives... "the President use to divert himself with the dream of establishing a secret office of thirty people or so to run foreign policy while maintaining the State Department as a facade in which people might contentedly carry papers from bureau to bureau." (Ironically, that was precisely the system that Nixon and Kissinger installed.)
Chapter 5: "I want it done, whatever the cost." Enemies, Plumbers, Taps, and Spies
Huston plan: impose President's personal direction on bureaucracies; in 1st 3 months of 1st term, Ehrlichman hired John Caulfield (former NYPD) to establish WH investigations unit; August 1971: John Dean (WH Counsel) prepared rationale for WH "enemies list"; list grew to >200, included institutions; Dean had role of enforcer of list; Haldeman subjected some to IRS audits (Washington Post lawyer audited 3 years in a row); DOJ, Secret Service, military intelligence added >4k people, >2k groups for IRS to study; Caulfield assigned to stimulate activity in IRS; August 1972: RN told Ehrlichman he wanted full control of IRS, FBI, DOJ, Department of Treasury officials in next term; Dean bypassed Treasury Secretary George Shultz in pursuing tax cases; May 1971: Haldeman told President that Colson had hired thugs to attack antiwar protesters; expansion against enemies to include more direct action, physical force; discussion (RH and Haldeman) about political "dirty tricks"; hiring of Segretti by Chapin; increasing paranoia about leaks from beginning (within 5 months of inauguration, 21 stories based on leaks from National Security Council); June 1971: publication of Pentagon Papers; told Haldeman to conduct loyalty tests to investigate, to get it done whatever the cost; 13 June 1971: NY Times published Pentagon Papers; raised question of deception and government credibility; Supreme Court lifted injunction nearly unanimously, but was divided behind the scenes (Black - assailed Administration for even temporary injuction; Warren - defended Administration; White - encouraged prosecution of Ellsberg as criminal); leaks, and failure of courts to provide Administration with desired protection, led to creation of the Plumbers; June 1971: Nixon wanted fire lit under FBI in Ellsberg investigation; 1969: RN ordered Ehrlichman to create in-house group to bypass FBI in leak investigations; December 1972: Washington Post revealed existence of Plumbers; January 1973: Krogh testimony to Senate committee, not asked about Plumbers' methods; Ehrlichman served as WH-Plumbers conduit; goals/tasks focused on covert activities; supervised by Krogh and David Young; Hunt (CIA) and Liddy (FBI) were unit's operatives, had no moral qualms about use of illegal methods; permission to burglarize Fielding (Ellsberg's psychologist) office signed off by Ehrlichman (with President's approval); Colson confirmed, President nondenial denial; Ehrlichman & Krogh considered Fielding break-in seminal Watergate episode, more significant than Watergate break-in; April 1973: Ellsberg trial judge received info about Hunt/Liddy connection to WH; May 1973: Ellsberg trial declared mistrial; link between Young/Krogh and WH was critical to Watergate; Dec 1971: leak of NSC memos re Indo-Pakistani War; traced to Joint Chiefs assistant Radford; government tapped Radford's phone, found he was actually leaking from NSC/Kissinger to Joint Chiefs; docs delivered to Admiral Welander,then relayed to Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Moorer; 9 May 1969: NY Times revealed Cambodian bombing; phones of reporters tapped; Kissinger aide (Haig): liaison between NSC & FBI; 12 July 1971: President ordered Assistant AG (Mardian) to give wiretap logs to Ehrlichman; Sullivan helped get wiretap logs to E, was fired by Hoover; 1965: Army intelligence operation to collect info; continued under Nixon; Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights drawn into question about program, program was defended by William Rehnquist (Assistant AG); issue was over 1st Ammendment rights; Tatum v. Laird court case in Court of Appeals; 20 months later, case came before Supreme Court, court upheld Rehnquist's opinion in 5-4 decision; Rehnquist refused to recuse himself, despite having personal connection/knowledge of case; if he had recused himself, 4-4 tie would have upheld lower court's decision (Tatum v. Laird would have sought injunction to prevent executive branch from gathering intelligence); Judge in Chicago 5 trial (1969) concluded wiretap tapes on SDS, Black Panthers, campus antiwar dissidents had no relevance to evidence in trial, in contrast to Supreme Court doctrine requiring illegal surveillance relevant to case to be turned over to defense; October 1970: "White Panthers" case in Ann Arbor, defense requested government to turn over wiretaps and have hearing to determine if evidence tainted government's case; December 1970: Attorney General responded that wiretaps were necessary for national security (protect nation from attacks on government); District Court judge Dannon Keith (January 1971) ruled in defense's favor; government appealed to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld D.C. judge; June 1971: case went to Supreme Court (United States v. United States Court for the Eastern District of Michigan); government ignored precedence set by Steel Seizure Case of 1952, asserted same powers asserted by King George III in Revolutionary Era re indiscriminate searches and seizures; SCOTUS affirmed lower courts' decisions, but decision was kept narrow, avoiding "inherent powers of executive branch" issue; was still a rebuke to Administration; decision announced in Keith case on 19 June 1972, two days after Watergate
Chapter 5 Quotes
Haldeman selected a number of people on various lists for IRS audits and other forms of harassment. Washington Post lawyer Edward Bennett Williams was targeted. Williams at first regarded the attention as a "badge of honor"; on more sober reflection, he realized how dangerous it was to have the "President of the United States obsessed with the idea of wreaking some kind of revenge against me." The IRS audited him for three consecutive years.
Significantly, the Court decisively rejected Solicitor General Erwin Griswold's argument that the release of the papers would affect lives, the recovery of Vietnam prisoners of war, and the peace process. Those considerations, he argued, had "such an effect on the security of the United States that [they] ought to be the basis of an injunction in this case." The Justices thought not, but their surface unanimity masked deep feelings. Some, like Justice Hugo Black, in what proved to be his final judicial opinion, bitterly assailed the Administration and the courts for permitting even a temporary injunction. Chief Justice Warren Burger dutifully defended the Administration, however, and Justice Byron White expressed biting contempt for Ellsberg's action and urged that the government prosecute him under the ordinary criminal statutes.
Chapter 6: The Politics of Deadlock: Nixon and Congress
Resistant Congress; formation of independent Congress with its own bureaucracy, goals, agenda, will; magnification during Nixon presidency; animosity between Nixon and Congress set stage for war during 2nd term; comparison between Nixon's confrontational style (facing Democratic Congress) & Eisenhower's (also facing Dem. Congress); Eisenhower did not strong-arm, made friends in Senate/House, respected Congress's foreign policy role; Nixon twisted arms, despised/cut off connections, resented Congressional forays into foreign policy; unpopular President tenures (Hoover, Truman) usually followed by good ones (Roosevelt, Eisenhower); but after Johnson, Nixon only widened the Executive-Legislative gap; ideological strain between Leg. & Exec. served as informal extension of checks & balances; "Deadlock of Democracy"; James Burns: Madisonian system of checks & balances led to paralysis of government; Johnson led to questioning need for strong Presidency; Nixon refused to recognize shared power; departure for Republican; Congress, after Johnson's imperial Presidency, was not inclined to abandon their share/role in governance; President presented his campaign as pact between the President and the people, bypassing Congress; Nixon took liberal article of strong/aggressive President who dealt with the people on intimate terms and reversed it on the Democrats ("He caught the liberals bathing and walked off with their clothes"); Nixon's first-term legislative agenda governed by President's promise to "knock heads together";
(1) impoundment of funds to subvert Congress & not implement laws led to conflict; March 1971: Ervin assembled Senate Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to start impoundment discussion; (Nixon was abusing impoundment, impounded > $18 billion in his 1st term); October 1972: vetoed Federal Water Pollution Control Act, veto was overridden, impounded the $18 billion in spending in the bill; Senate Judiciary and Government Operations subcommittee met again with hearings re impoundment; Summer 1974: House Judiciary Committee considered whether impoundment activities constituted grounds for impeachment;
(2) reorganization of Executive Branch undertaken by many Presidents in the 20th Century; Nixon's reorganization was clearly about power; opposed by those who would lose their power, making it difficult; 1970: Nixon created OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to erode Cabinet's power; proposed creating Domestic Council (analog of National Security Council), consolidating domestic operations of executive branch and threatening ties to Congressional committees/staff; Cabinet made irrelevant via WH contact with middle-level bureaucrats; Nixon's public declaration was the need to change framework of government to make it more responsive (1971 State of Union); Nixon's 1971 reorganization plan spoiled by bureaucratic self-defense and Congressional suspicion; purposes were not related to efficiency but to furthering political/personal motives;
(3) SCOTUS nominee battles; June 1968, Warren notified Johnson of intent to resign; nomination of Justice Fortas to Chief Justice failed due to ethics issues, close connection to Presidency (separation of powers); 1 October: rejected by Senate; Warren told Nixon he would step down June 1969; May 1969: Nixon nominated Earl Burger from DC Court of Appeals; incriminating evidence about Justice Fortas came up again; Chicago Tribune in May disclosed DoJ's investigation and DoJ's demand that he resign; Fortas resigned, Nixon nominated 2 Southerners, both rejected; August 1969: nominated Clement Haynsworth, rejected due to personal ethics and concern among labor & civil rights bases; rejected on 21 November 1969; 1st rejection since 1930; fragility of Nixon's Congressional support as little as 1 yr after election; nominated G. Harrold Carswell; rejected due to civil rights concern about racism; April 1970: Senate rejected Carswell; President lashed out, concluded Senate would not approve a Southerner; nominated MN judge Harry Blackmun, confirmed by Senate; 1 week before Carswell rejection, Ford brought up ethics charges against Justice Davis; seen as a political move, thinly-veiled WH attempt at impeachment; Ehrlichman, Krogh met to write up SCOTUS nominee procedures; Justice Black submitted resignation in September 1971; Justice Harlan submitted resignation 1 week later; Pat Buchanan's approach: nominate Virginia Representative, make Democrats choose between alienating blacks and alienating the South; Leonard Garment's approach: choose wisely, no surprises, head off a fight; October 1971: President nominated Lewis Powell (VA lawyer), and Assistant AG William Rehnquist; Powell easily confirmed, Rehnquist confirmed with some difficulty; Supreme Court nominees demonstrated Nixon's desire to change national policy w/o Congressional approval
(4) Vietnam conflict; Congress (due to Johnson, Gulf of Tonkin resolution) suspicious of executive war policy; Congress began to assert itself after long period of quiescence; June 1969: Senate passed National Commitments Resolution, asserting role in committal of armed forces; designed to tie the President's hands; June 1970: Senate repealed Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; largely symbollic, but important assertion; in appropriations bill, Congress passed with recommendation of withdraw of troops; President said he would ignore the proviso; Federal Court said Nixon could not ignore it; in new 1973 Congress, Majority Leader vowed action to end Vietnam War, end period of inactivity/impotence of Congress; 1973: passage of War Powers Act of 1973 signaled new era in Executive-Legislative relations; election of 1972, Nixon re-elected and Congress remained Democratic, sign of more conflict in 2nd term; comparison to Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations (1919), rejected by Congress, never passed b/c he wanted it his way or not at all
Chapter 7: Media Wars
Duality of Nixon attitude toward media: hatred, and useful tool; growing importance of media (TV) to governance; Herb Klein, Dir. of Communication post, liaison of media ('68/'69); Five O'Clock Group controlled media messages & information flow; dominance of TV over radio/newspaper: TV is shallower, lending itself to talking points; combined with laziness/lack of resources, Nixon admin. was able to practically write the news; TV relations also easier, b/c of regulatory control (FCC) and fewer executives (than newspapers); historical perspectives of Pres. press conf.; instituted by Woodrow Wilson, changed by FDR (forum for projecting desired image); Truman regarded media as hostile, didn't use the media; Eisenhower adapted well to TV; lots of press conferences, friendly to reporters (quasi-staff); Kennedy (like FDR) used to sell an image; Johnson hurt by media due to lack of style (credibility gap); Nixon tried to avoid it; June 1969: told Ehrlichman to compile list of friendly reporters, avoided questions from hostile reporters; October 1969: "Rifle & Shotgun" memo (Macgruder); March 1970: all-out attack, FCC monitor networks, antitrust action, IRS investigation of networks and reporters, Republican National Committee letter-writing campaigns; November 1969: Spiro Agnew, very hostile speech in Des Moines; FCC chair requesting transcripts of news coverage of speech; threat of using regulation as a weapon against networks was overt; Nixon campaign strategy applied to media: make enemy bend over backward to appear fair; harassment of Schorr (FBI investigation), Hart (US Information Agency, IRS, forced to leave CBS for NBC); April 1972: DoJ filed antitrust lawsuit against networks (timed for 1972 campaign); October 1972: Nixon told aides not to talk to/invite to functions: NY Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek; November 1972: Clay Whitehead (Dir. of WH office of Telecommunications Policy) told networks (in leadup to election day) that they would be held responsible for biased coverage at license-renewal time; Nixon's presidency paralleled rising importance of media, sought to control media for his own success; inability to control frustrated/alienated Nixon
Chapter 7 Quotes
Presidents have met the press in a variety of ways. Theodore Roosevelt occasionally talked to a reporter or a group of reporters, sometimes with a public design, other times on a social basis. Woodrow Wilson conducted the first regular press conferences and inaugurated conferences as fairly routine White House functions. Wilson knew the importance of cultivating working reporters. At his first press conference in March 1913, he told a group of them: "I feel that a large part of the success of public affairs depends on newspapermen - not so much on the editorial writers, because we can live down what they say, as upon the news writers because the news is the atmosphere of public affairs."
Book Three: The Watergate War: Origins and Retreat, June 1972-April 1973
Chapter 8: "We should come up with... imaginative dirty tricks." The Watergate Break-in
17 June 1972: Watergate burglars arrested; envelope w/ check connected E. Howard Hunt to burglars; FBI file on Hunt mentioned Caddy, lawyer who showed up to represent 5 burglars (even though they made no calls); retiring Presidential aide Harry Dent watching TV, "It's all over" (suspected CRP-WH-Haldeman-RN link); afternoon, 17 June 1971: McCord is ex-CIA, head of security for CRP; 18 June 1971: Mitchell denied burglars operating on behalf of CRP; 19 June 1971: FBI learned Hunt was ex-CIA, had worked for Colson in WH in late March; 23 June: FBI Dir. Gray: Watergate has highest priority investigative attention; President/Haldeman tried using CIA blanket to cover up from FBI; 19 June: Ziegler refused to comment; 20 June: Colson, Hunt, McCord names and CRP/WH connection public knowledge; Larry O'Brien press conference re $1 million Democratic lawsuit against CRP; 22 June: Nixon: WH has no involvement in this particular incident; 25 June: O'Brien called for special prosecutor to investigate; 30 June: meeting with RN, H, Mitchell: Mitchell resignation, plan was for Mitchell to take the fall; 1 August: Mitchell resigned for family reasons; cut to September 1971: when Mitchell made CRP chair, Haldeman memo stating H would be contiuit btwn RN and Mitchell to insulate RN from CRP but maintain control; Mitchell formally took post in February 1972; late 1971: Mitchell asked Dent to work for him; Dent expressed skepticism, Mitchell insisted he was in control, WH stepped in and appointed Magruder (Haldeman aide) instead; President maintained control over all minute details; saddled McGovern with albatross of ultra-left-wing allies (similar to Goldwater's ultra-right-wing albatross); July/August 1972: Nixon continued pursuing Larry O'Brien information, countersuit by CRP of Democrats accusing them of libel; 1972 insulation tactic had advantage of incumbency; RN remained off campaign trail, unconnected in public to CRP; no debate/face-to-face between RN and McGovern; RN claimed the "dirty tricks" were simply turning Democratic tactics against them (memoirs); CRP: RN control of it in place by 1971; Nixon: pattern of illegal/illicit behavior (1962gov. campaign, postcards w/o acknowledgment of funding from Nixon campaign); CRP operations (townhouse, Sandwedge, Gemsone, etc.); Sandwedge = offensive intelligence & illegal behavior/tactics; Mitchell dismissed as unrealistic; Watergate break-in diminished in importance, important things became pattern of illegal activities and cover-up, which led to more abuses of executive power; connection between Hunt, Liddy, 5 burglars, & CRP was there, but unclear; 4 theories:
(1) Colson's mastermind plot, plan for widespread violence @ RNC, martial law, after burglars caught, Colson's plan concealed and rest of WH implicated
(2) After the Keith decision required Administration to disclose wiretaps, break-in was not to find faulty taps from 1st break-in but to remove wiretaps in anticipation of Court's announcement of ruling, scheduled for that Monday
(3) CIA connections, due to Nixon's plan to strip CIA of many of its powers; CIA may have been trying to sabotage Nixon
(4) CIA-Democrats call-girl operation, McCord sabotaged operation to prevent call-girl prostitution ring from being uncovered
O'Brien-Howard Hughes connection became Nixon obsession; another theory was due to Greek connection; Greek KYP (started, subsidized by CIA) transferred 3 cash payments ($549k total) to Nixon campaign via Pappas (1968); Pappas provided business contacts/donors and cash for Mitchell "special projects"; contributed to Watergate burglars via CIA front (payoffs for silence); whistleblower against Pappas threatened with deportation, harassed; 15 September 1972: indictment of Hunt, Liddy, 5 burglars handed down; FBI interviews done with CRP lawyers/John Dean present, against standard policy; interview policies set by FBI director Gray; ineffectiveness of interviews due to lawyers being present; reluctance/silence of interviewees; FBI efforts to move beyond 7 met resistance; investigative reports (FBI) forwarded to Dean by Gray; later surfaced that Gray had helped Dean by destroying evidence from Hunt's WH safe, materials given to him by Dean
Chapter 8 Quotes
For nearly a year, Nixon had regularly told taff people that the drinking and emotional instability of Martha Mitchell, the Attorney General's wife, had been responsible for her husband's bad judgments. Ten days before the resignation, Nixon claimed that he had called Mitchell to "cheer him up a bit." According to the President, his campaign manager was chagrined over the recent course of events and regretted that he had not policed his organization more effectively. The conversation established the foundation for a strategy that Nixon and his top aides pursued for nearly a year: John Mitchell would take the fall.
Jim Hougan's book, Secret Agenda, fleshes out Haldeman's claims for a pervasive CIA role in Watergate. Hougan has established the most thorough reconstruction of the crime.
Chapter 9: "What really hurts is if you try to cover it up." Watergate and the Campaign of 1972
15 September 1972: Grand Jury returned indictment of 7 burglars, Justice Dept. spokesman: "highly unlikely" investigation would be extended beyond 7; May 1970: John Dean working for Mitchell in DoJ, Magruder mentioned Dean to Haldeman, Krogh (friend of Dean's) offered him job in WH; Haldeman offered Dean the job of WH Counsel, Dean accepted; Dean didn't see the President much; Dean young, not experienced, ambitious and willing; Ehrlichman moved from WH Counsel to head Domestic Council; Dean was conduit between FBI/Secret Service & WH for antiwar demonstrations Dean stonewalled General Accounting Office on CRP inquiries, invoked executive privilege; after Watergate, Dean interviewed Wh staff, learned that Haldeman had received wiretap logs; saw connection to President, orchestrated parties to Watergate coverup; 17 June: Mitchell denied involvement; 19 June: Colson encouraged confiscation of Hunt's WH safe; Mitchell suggested Magruder burn Gemstone files; 20 June: Haldeman told Strachan to clean files, Strachan shredded files; Dean & associate Fielding went thru safe, found evidence of dirty tricks, Plumbers memos, informed Ehrlichman, who told Dean to "deep six" them; Dean gave them to Gray; Dean gradually assumed control of Watergate coverup; assigned to the coverup task by H; Dean's DoJ connections meant Dean was trusted in the DoJ, was not known to be the lynch pin of the sconspiracy; 20 June: Nixon learned of Hunt/Liddy CRP connection, did not inform FBI; talked to H abt raising money for burglars, using CIA to put pressure on FBI to drop investigation; this was date of 18.5-minute gap in tape; 23 June: Nixon, H took steps to cover up links between burglars, CRP, WH: this constituted obstruction of justice; President not sure who devised break-in plan, suspected Liddy ("a little nuts"); worreid the FBI would trace the money with the burglars; H said FBI had enough evidence w/o following the money; Helms mystified by insinuation of money laundering by CIA - said it was fictional, the CIA can get money from anywhere in the world, don't need to launder money; summer 1972: Helms said he was being set up to take the fall by the President; eventual resistance of Helms against Nixon led to much greater exposure of the CIA, and political scrutiny; between 17 June and 15 September, Dean and Nixon met once; 29 August: press conf. by Nixon, refused to hire special prosecutor, cited Dean's investigation and FBI investigation and House Banking & Currency Committee (HBCC) investigation; 15 September: meeting with Nixon, H, John Dean; Dean keeping track of different Watergate problems; D, H, N thought indictment of the 7 woudl be the end of the affair; Dean mentioend that HBCC could be a problem; proposed investigating campaign finance laws broken by HBCC committee members; Nixon wanted Sen. Garry Brown and House Minority Leader Ford to meet with Ehrlichman; Dean left, would not meet with President until 28 February 1973; Patman (head of HBCC) was very shrewd, loner, had long-term view of things; 21 June: Sen. Proxmire asked for Fed. Reserve Board Chair's cooperation in seeking names of banks involved in issuing cash found on burglars; fed. attorneys learned Barker (burglar) withdrew $89k (cash) from acct (money deposited in April by a Mexican bank); July/August reports: Dahlberg check, $25k; FBI following money trail; 22 August: GAO said they woudl no longer cooperate w/ HBCC investigation; 29 August: in Nixon's press conf. in CA, question abt special prosecutor went unanswered, Nixon claims of campaign finance violations by both sides; 28 August: Patman requested interview with Stans; 30 August: Stans agreed to interview, was interviewed same day; 4 September: Republican response to Patman, focusing on rights of Stans, burglars, Republicans refused to cooperate, led by Garry Brown; 5 September: Stans denied any knowledge during questioning; 11 September: Stans' lawyer refused to appear at HBCC meeting, on civil rights basis; FBI: w/o leak from insider, investigation would fail; 12 September: HBCC staff report about Nixon campaign contributions on 5 April (2 days before campaign finance laws took effect) ready, leaked to public; Patman accused Stans of participating in cover-up; Patman saw Stans as key connection between CRP and burglary; 3 October: committee was assembled, Patman requested subpoena powers, effort was sabotaged by 2 Democrats due to WH pressure; 26 September: Parkinson (CRP Finance Committee's/Stans' lawyer) sent Dean list of campaign finance reports/PAC connections of HBCC Senators; one senator (Brasco) dissenting against subpoena power, from NY, met earlier with Mitchell and NYC Democratic leader to discuss his HBCC role, and had been under investigation since 1970 for bribery/fraud; in Ford's VP confirmation hearing (1973), Ford asked if he had influenced Patman Committee, Ford said no (despite 15 September conversation where Nixon said Ford had to lead, said Ehrlichman should meet with Ford); 1974 impeachment hearings: a count of obstruction of justice for role in blocking Patman committee; 12 October: Patman invited Mitchell, MacGregor, Stans, Dean to testify; none showed, so Patman held mock hearing; 31 October: released HBCC report linking CRP to burglars; 12 October: Washington Post published story on Segrettin's "dirty tricks" campaign; President knew Kalmbach had paid Segretti; Dean knew Segretti would lead to H, Chapman, and Kalmbach, and eventually to President; Patman and Ervin (Senate Select Committee investigating 1972 campaign financing) cooperated, Patman shared info with Ervin, directed him on questioning Dean; 5 October: press conference, Nixon took civil rights approach, not commenting on burglars' case; 5 October: Stans fundraiser raised $6.5-7 million in 1 night (set record for political fundraiser); March 1973: Haldeman to Colson: Dean is handling Watergate, should handle all questions/input; December 1972: Dean attempted redefinition of WH Cousel role (measure of Dean's importance)
Chapter 9 Quotes
Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, well acquainted with ambitious young lawyers from his days a Dean of the Harvard Law School, considered John Dean a "nice young man" but nevertheless "was astounded" when he heard of his appointment as White House Counsel. Griswold believed Dean unqualified by either ability or experience. The position, Griswold said, "required a more mature person, with the fiber and strength to stand up to the President and to other people in the White House, and to do it gracefully so that you avoid head-on collisions."
After Nixon returned to Washington following the break-in, he learned on June 20 about Hunt and Liddy and their connection to CREEP, but he did not order Haldeman or anyone else to inform the FBI. That night, Nixon talked to Haldeman about raising money for the burglars and for the first time suggested bringing CIA pressure on the FBI to limit the investigation.
Regarding September 15th meeting between Dean and President...
The conversation drifted in other directions, but Dean quickly revived the Patman situation. He thought it might be tragic if they let Patman "have a field day up there." He mentioned that one of the committee's junior Republicans, Garry Brown (R-MI), had asked Kleindiendst whether an investigation might jeopardize the criminal case against the burglars. The President was pleased: he considered Brown smart and aggressive. He wanted Ford andBrown called in to work with Ehrlichman - "the ought to get off their asses and push it. No use to let (Congressman) Patman have a free ride here."
The Banking and Currency Committee assembled on October 3, with only one Democrat and one Republican absent out of the thirty-seven committee members. Patman told the committee that the international transfer and concealment of campaign contributions might have financed "the greatest political espionage case" in American history and could notbe ignored. Charges and allegations, he noted, reached "right into the White House" and other high places in the Administration. He complained that the White House had obstructed the staff's efforts. He scoffed at the concerns of "newly founded converts to the cause of civil liberties," labeling their actions a "smokescreen to hide the real reasons" for thwarting the investigation. Patman wanted the facts out; then he was content to let the electorate decide on their import. The Administration, he charged, wanted the jury verdict first, the facts later. If they had their way, he warned, "they will shut the door, possibly for all time, on this sorry affair."
Speaking at Oxford University two months after his defeat, McGovern remarked that he thought Congress would would become ineffective and that Nixon was closer "to one-man rule than at any time in our history," and this, McGovern said, "by a president who is not popular." Petulant, paradoxical, and possibly correct. "After the disastrous reigns of three King Richards, England had been spared a King Richard IV," McGovern observed, but "we seem to have him - for four more years."
Chapter 10: "The cover-up is the main ingredient." A Blackmailer, a Senator, and a Judge: November 1972-March 1973
WH enemies beginning to see Watergate as more than simple burglary; 8 November: day after election, Haldeman demanded everyone's resignation in a meeting of assembled WH staff and Cabinet; late November: CiA director Helms forced to resign, became ambassador of Iran; 17 February: Gray nomination went to Senate, disaster for Nixon, gave Democratic Congress chance to ask about Watergate; December 1972: N, H, E discussed Segretti's "dirty tricks" campaign, agreed it was unconnected to Watergate; Chapman, Strachan (Haldeman aide) dismissed (knew too much); two cover-ups: CRP-Watergate connection, and cover-up to protect President; October 1972: Hunt started calling Colson, making demands; November 1972: Colson told Hunt he didn't know about Watergate; concern by defendants about expenses; Hunt: "Your cheapest commodity available is money"; blackmail of WH by Hunt; 27 November: deadline for WH to meet its financial committments; Liddy asked Dean for money for a lawyer; 15 November: Pres. to H: Colson doesn't fit, eager to dismiss; Colson stayed several months anyway; fed President's "dark side"; 8 December: Hunt's wife (also CIA, savvy, had the whole picture) died in plane crash (as did CBS news correspondent Michele Clark and Illinois Congressman George Collins); $10k in her purse, $225k in flight insurance payable to Howard Hunt taken out shortly before flight; FBI was looking for evidence the plane was sabotaged; Hunt seen as non-expendable witness; 14 February: Nixon and Colson: "The cover-up is the main ingredient... This tremendous investigation rests, unless one of the seven begins to talk."; Mitchell stonewalling investigation; 6 January: Senator Mansfield called for Watergate investigation by Senate committee; 25 February: Nixon told H, E to stay out of Watergate, leave it to Dean, Kleindienst; Nixon to Dean: Chambers, Hiss's accuser, suffered greatly because he was an informer (pointed advice for Dean); 10 January: trial of Hunt, Liddy, 5 burglars began in D.C.; Judge Sirica; prosecution kept case narrow; 11 January: Hunt pleaded guilty to 6 counts; 15 January: 4 Cubans pled guilty to all counts; NY Times reported defendants had been pressured to plead guilty; 30 January: jury returned all guilty counts against McCord and Liddy (90 minutes of deliberation); 11 January: DoJ filed charges against CRP for campaign finance violations; Mansfield, Ervin kept Watergate issue from dying; 11 February: President to H: have to discredit the hearings (Ervin committee); author draws parallel between Charles I and his opposition to Oliver Cromwell; Charles lost his head/his crown, Nixon put his office in jeopardy and lost; 23 March: sentencing for Watergate burglars; 20 March: McCord letter to judge, also published by LA Times, revealing that pressure applied to defendants to plead guilty; McCord acted to reduce his sentence, take focus away from CIA (was ex-CIA); Gray nomination also heating up, Gray-Dean cooperation uncovered; Sirica: used maximum sentences to pressure self-incrimination/testimony before Senate committee; John Mitchell determined (by President and his closest aides) to be the sacrificial lamb
Chapter 10 Quotes
McCord also believed that the White House was anxious to blame the CIA for the break-in and would cite McCord as evidence for the notion. He wrote to his friend White House aide John Caulfield at the end of December, warning that "if Helms goes, and the Watergate operation is laid at [the] CIA's feet where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert," McCord warned.
Kleindienst dramatically noted that "future historians, in a more detached environment, might well conclude that the McCord letter was not only the turning point in Watergate but perhaps a turning point in modern civilization as well."
Chapter 11: "We have a cancer within, close to the Presidency." Covering Up the Cover-Up: January-March 1973
January 1973: Hunt demanding money, Ervin Senate committee investigating, Gray confirmation hearing leading toward Dean's involvement, uncovering Dean's dealings w/ Oval Office; 20 March 1973: Dean to Moore (President's special counsel): cover-up can't be maintained much larger; 21 March: Dean to Nixon: release some pressure on investigation; launching of cover-up of cover-up, and finding people to take the heat; 17 Feb: Gray confirmation hearing launched; end Feb: WH contacts during Watergate inv. acknowledged, sinking Gray's potential; nomination went forward due to lack of alternatives (Gray knew too much); committee learned of reports to Dean, 1 week delay (Dean) in turning over contents of Hunt's WH safe; 13 March; committee voted to have Dean testify; 2 March: press conf. by Nixon, executive privilege to prevent President's counsel from testifying (transformed separation of powers into unbridled autonomy); Nixon memoirs: @ press conference, realized "Vietnam had found its successor."; Ehrlichman to Dean: "let him [Gray] twist slowly[,] slowly in the wind."; Byrd (late March) challenged/questioned Gray on Dean/WH connection, lively had info/contact from inside FBI; 27 March: N, H, E discussed withdraw of Gray's name; 4 April: confirmation that Gray could not be confirmed; 5 April: Gray's name withdrawn; Democrats were eager to kick Gray around; 4 April: Ehrlichman met with Judge Byrne for poss. FBI post; Byrne was not informed of visit's purpose, was presiding over Ellsberg's trial, used event as basis for declaring mistrial later; March 1973: national awareness of Watergate, 478 ?s fielded by Ziegler about Watergate; Nixon began cover-up of cover-up using executive privilege; 13 March: N, H, Dean, discussion of measures to divert attention from Watergate; FBI connection to investigate Dem. Presidents' abuse of FBI; Nixon had given up on Gray; N to Dean: who are particularly vulnerable Ervin Committee witnesses? Sloan (passed money to Liddy), Kalmbach (hush money to burglars); N still did not distinguish between H and Mitchell; 17 March: President needed report from Dean (results of WH Watergate investigation); Dean: Colson and Strachan (H aides) asked for more political intelligence; Dean revealed Ehrlichman's role in Ellsberg cover-up; 21 March: Dean/Nixon: Dean convinced plan/cover-up failing; recited to Nixon: H instructed campaign intelligence operation; Caulfield developed plan, Mitchell/E/D agreed not suitable; Dean suggested commissioning Liddy, Liddy proposed expensive/outlandish schemes, Liddy enlisted Hunt as ally, Liddy + Hunt visited Colson, who pressed Magruder for action; Haldeman via Strachan pressured Magruder for campaign intelligence; Magruder turned to Mitchell for campaign to approve D.N.Committee wiretap plans; Mitchell agreed, wiretaps went to Strachan & Haldeman; Haldeman aware of CRP capacity for illegal ops, but not directing; H did not know source of intelligence (wiretaps), but Strachan did; Dean recapped monitoring/restraint of FBI investigation; Liddy informed Dean defendants needed money for living expenses; Kalmbach to raise money; Kalmbach distributed money to defendants via Hunt's lawyer; this involved H, E, Mitchell, Dean in obstruction of justice; Haldeman authorized use of $350k from his safe; money for living expenses turned into Hunt blackmailing WH ($122k or destroy Ehrlichman); info about Ellsberg psychiatrist break-in; Mitchell had most to lose; Mitchell, LaRue trying to raise money from Pappas; Nixon: how much money do you need? Dean: $1 million over 2 years; N: know where to get $1 million cash; Hunt worried President because of Colson connection; question of "letting it all blow" came up, dropped; both wanted to avoid, b/c damaging to both; Dean encouraged grand jury (G.J.) sacrificing people/immunizing witnesses; possibility of H endictment (Watergate break-in) & E endictment (Ellsberg break-in); Colson, Magruder seen as weak links; Hunt could bring down E, Colson, Mitchell, & then others; President tasked Dean to continue cover-up; N, H, E, D, met in afternoon, Dean pushed G.J. idea b/c of risk of cover-up blowing, endangering President; Dean more exposed due to Gray hearings, E & H beginning to look out for themselves foremost; H & E saw cover-up as most advantageous (most heat on Dean); (night) 21 March 1973: Colson told President that Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN) willing to work with Nixon; Colson suggested President hire special prosecutor; N recording thoughts @ end of day; Magruder's lack of character, & Haldeman's mistake hiring him; focus on Colson's insistence Magruder/Liddy gain intelligence about Democrats; 21 March-April spent preparing Mitchell to take fall; strategy originated from 20 March discussion (N/H) after learning abt McCord letter; Liddy would stay silent, others would be silenced w/ money, executive privilege to protect aides, but Ehrlichman exposed due to Ellsberg break-in; Haldeman worried about Chapin and Strachan connections; 22 March: N/H; H briefed N on use of $350k from safe used to pay defendants; H via D to Strachan to Larue (Mitchell's aide at CRP); President agreed to blackmail payments; WH "circling wagons", increasingly looking like Mitchell would take the heat (CRP, insulated from WH); H, E both began to push for Mitchell to take fall, despite knowledge he would take significant fall; N: "They'll kill him... They'll convict him."; 22 March (2 PM): N, H, E, D, Mitchell; Mitchell pushed N to use executive privilege aggressively; Mitchell proposed coming out with WH version of events; Dean Report, Dean would spent weakened @ Camp David to write report/account of events, Dean kept away from testifying before Ervin committee due to vulnerability; end of meeting conclusion: push executive privilege, use Dean Report as shield; 3 days after Sirica read McCord letter in court: NY Times reported McCord implicated WH & CRP officials, had more info to share, 27 March; Bob Woodward requested interview w/ President via Assistant Press Secretary; H: Magruder claiming intelligence op. orig. from WH, organized by Dean & Haldeman; H & E: Dean not involved, H just wanted better intelligence; Magruder eager to clear himself; Magruder (led to) Mitchell; US Attorney offer of immunity to Magruder to get Mitchell; Dean: no report, b/c would implicate everyone/tighten noose; Dean knew cover-up was blown, hired criminal lawyer
Chapter 11 Quotes
Dean's recitation began with Haldeman's instruction that he establish "a perfectly legitimate campaign intelligence operation" at CREEP. John Caulfield first developed a plan, but Mitchell and Ehrlichman agreed with Dean that it was not suitable. Dean then suggested that they commission Gordon Liddy for the task. Liddy proposed several hare-brained and expensive schemes, which again were rejected, but he then enlisted Hunt as an ally. The two visited Colson who, in turn, pressed Magruder for action. Meanwhile Haldeman, through his ade, Gordon Strachan, similarly pressured Magruder for campaign intelligence. Magruder responded by turning to Mitchell and urging the campaign to authorize Liddy's plan to wiretap the Democratic National Committee. Mitchell agreed, and the fruits of the taps went to Strachan, who gave them to Haldeman.
Chapter 12: "We have to prick the Goddam boil and take the heat." Cutting Loose: April 1973
Liddy refused to answer Ervin Committee's questions; McCord began talking to prosecutors; McCord: roles of Mitchell, Dean, Magruder, Colson in Watergate; March-April led to large increase in Watergate stories; 5 April: Dean's laywers in touch w/ prosecutors; N, H, E, worried about Magruder; N to E: Magruder would only pull plug on Mitchell, not H; H dispatched Higby (Haldeman's Haldeman) to talk to Magruder; Magruder said H had nothing to worry about, Magruder only implicated Mitchell, D, & Liddy; Magruder confined Watergate to Mitchell/CRP, no WH involvement; N, H, E used opportunity to pin all blame on Mitchell; E convinced Dean would limit his testimony to Magruder/Mitchell, Dean's testimony increased scope beyond Magruder's; 14 April: E wanted Mitchell and Dean to take fall; President told E to call Mitchell, persuade to take responsibility; (after lunch) 14 April: Magruder "Everybody involved here is going to blow"; question of what WH connections would be revealed (Strachan->Haldeman); Mitchell beside the point; E met w/ Mitchell @ WH, each of President's men had enough info to implicate the others; 5 PM, 14 April: E reported Magruder would implicate Mitchell & Dean (coaching on perjured testimony); Nixon: began to suspect Dean as threat; prosecutors on Dean's trail, looking into Haldeman's links to wiretap intelligence; question of sacrificing Haldeman came up; (later) 14 April: Pres. diary entry; H potentially sacrificed b/c of wiretap intelligence, E b/c of links to Plumbers, Ellsberg psychiatrist break-in; word of felons (McCord, Hunt) vs word of money-raisers re the obstruction of justice charge (unless there was "some piece of paper that somebody signed or some God damned thing..."); Nixon realized Dean was greater threat than Magruder; by this point Dean's lawyers met w/ prosecutors several times; Dean met with them 8 April; initial focus on Magruder, Mitchell; expanded to H, E, Fielding break-in; escalated to President when Dean was convinced he was to be made a scapegoat; Peterson (Assistant AG) informed Kleindienst of Dean's testimony (meeting w/ Titus, US Attorney, & Silbert, Titus aide); 15 April: Nixon, Kleind. met, discussed Dean's testimony (did not implicate President); K surprised N took news of Mitchell's involvement in break-in so calmly; later said credits N w/ more principles than he had, wasn't skeptical enough; N knew where K's info coming from; N, H convinced Mitchell wouldn't have to resign, would be indicted, that "big fish" would take away most of heat/attention; H, E turned sharply on Dean; suggested Dean submit resig. letter, signed, for President's drawer; April 15: Nixon called Petersen 4 times, gave him attention; April 16: met w/ Petersen (Assistant AG under Kleindienst) to get info, learned Dean would not plead guilty w/o indictment of H, E; Petersen kept Nixon informed, e.g. who would be questioned; met w/ H, E, and they pushed case against Dean, that he stonewalled, shot down, dug in his heels; next Nixon met with Dean, presented him w/ a choice: resignation letter or leave of absence letter; Dean insisted H, E do the same, told Nixon they weren't problem-free; still treated Dean like Dean could magically fix situation, told each other taht they had triggered the investigation and had done through investigation; Nixon told Dean to tell the truth; Garmet told President he could not save himself w/o sacrificing H, E; Nixon prodded Petersen to block Ervin's investigation, as to not jeopardize the government's case; Petersen advised letting H go, Nixon insisted it was entirely Mitchell; (H had knowledge of break-in budgets); Dean told Nixon (April 16 afternoon) that he woudl not be a scapegoat; Nixon began to realize he had to sacrifice H, E as part of cover-up of cover-up; April 17: Presidential speech about major developments, Ziegler made "inoperative" statement; Petersen informed Nixon of Dean's testimony about E, Gray, suppression of evidence, that H, E would be unindicted co-conspirators; Nixon met w/ H, E's lawyers; E subtly threatened to talk if let go, Nixon overtly offered cash payments; Nixon tried to line up alabis, plan became to make Dean scapegoat; April 25, E had to take leave of absence due to Ellsberg trial; NY Times obtained info on E/Gray/Dean "deep six" of evidence; prosecutors learned of Kalmbach payments ($154k) to Howard Hunt; Dean's credibility increased; Dean implicated President; Peterson warned Nixon not to try and separate H, E from Dean; NY Times reported on destruction of evidence (28 June 1972 meeting), Dean insisting it was unrelated to Watergate, Gray destroyed @ FBI HQ; Dean informed prosecutors of incident mid-June; Gray: perjury; Ruckelshaus appointed head of FBI; 22 April: Kleindienst decided to submit resignation (27 = Fri, 30 = Monday); Nixon met w/ H, E on 29 April, demanded their resignations, also ordered Kleindienst to submit his resignation; "clean sweep" appearance: announce resignations of H, E, Klein. @ once; 30 April, addressed nation re resignations; several days later, Dean started to tell prosecutors more about Nixon's activities
Chapter 12 Quotes
Kleindienst was struck by the President's calm reaction to the news of Mitchell's complicity in the break-in. Petersen, who accompanied Kleindienst to another meeting with the President later that afternoon, recalled being "a little exasperated perhaps considering the man's station, perhaps even a little bit rude in consideration of hte calm with which he accepted what I thought was shattering information." The President, of course, knew the facts, and he understood how Petersen had learned them. Later, Petersen bitterly chastised himself for not being skeptical or cynical enough. "Maybe people in power have different rules, but they certainly are not straightforward, certainly not hoest.. I credited this guy with more character than he obviously had." Richard Nixon liked to give surprises; he did not relish receiving them.
The President's treatment included fatherly advice on truth-telling. "John, I want you to tell the truth," the President said. "I have told everybody around here, said, 'God damn it, tell the truth.' 'Cause all they do [when they lie], John, is compound it." The experienced Nixon offered his advice, resurrecting Alger Hiss's perjury. "[D]on't ever lie with these bastards," Nixon emphasized. He reminded Dean that right clearly could be distinguished from wrong, but when Dean agreed, the President added: "perhaps there are gray areas."
Senator J. William Fulbright, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations, appeared on a television interview program on April 15, about the tine Nixon was meeting with Kleindienst and Petersen. Fulbright grasped the President's growing weakness and the debilitating effects of Watergate more readily than Phillips. The Senator thought the scandal might provide an opportunity to restore balance between the executive and legislative branches by offering a focus on such questions as impoundment of appropriated funds, presidential war powers, and executive privilege. Still, Fulbright recognized that the President retained great authority. If he "decided to bom Burma tomorrow, I don't know how we could stop him from it."
Ehrlichman warned that if he had to take leave, "I gotta start answering questions." Whether he was presenting a fact or a threat was not clear. "Let me ask you this, to be quite candid," the President responded. "Is there any way you can use cash?" Haldeman reacted with a blend of fury and sarcasm. They were being "drummed" out of office for their "supposed role" in payments to the defendants, and now the President offered them cash. "That compounds the problem," he told Nixon. "That really does."
"I just wonder if the son-of-a-bitch had a recorder on him," Nixon remarked. The two men had raised the possibility earlier in the morning. "I just can't believe that anybody, that even John Dean, would come into this office with a tape recorder." Few conversations in this period dripped with more irony.
The next day the President told Haldeman that they had to keep the Oval Office taping system secret. If the tapes became public knowledge, Nixon said, they should admit they made them, but only for "national security information" - which, of course, then had to remain secret. "You never want to be in a position to say the President taped it, you know. I mean taped somebody." Haldeman thought there was no need to worry - unless there were impeachment proceedings, which he considered out of the question. "My God, what the hell have we done to be impeached?" Nixon responded. Haldeman thought that if Dean taped the March 21 meeting, it would only show he was trying to trap the President, and his motives would be subject to scrutiny.
If he admitted any vulnerabilities, he thought, his opponents would "savage" him. He believed he could portray events as "just politics." The reesulting address was vintage Nixon. He blamed externals, extolled his record, and both praised and questioned the motives of others. He accepted responsibility as "the man at the top," a thinly veiled abstraction that he later admitted fooled no one. Nixon lied when he said he had no knowledge of events prior to March 21. He thought he could put Watergate behind him with "excuses," a style not unfamiliar to him. Later, he realized that "he could not have made a more disastrous miscalculation." "Fatal" would have been more accurate.
Nixon later realized that he had amputated both arms. Perhaps he could survive, he recalled, but the day left him "so anguished and saddened that from that day on the presidency lost all joy for me." He noted that he had written his last full diary entry on April 14. "Events became so cheerless that I no longer had the time or the desire to dictate daily reflections." But an anonymous aide fit the event into a familiar Nixon pattern: "For Nixon," he claimed, "the shortest distance between two points is over four corpses."
Book Four: The Watergate War: Disarray and Disgrace, May 1973-August 1974
Chapter 13: New Enemies. The Special Prosecutor and the Senate Committee: May 1973
Declining popular support for Richard Nixon; indictment of H, E, Mitchell, Dean, Magruder, LaRue; Haig replaced Haldeman (4 May); Haig resented by military, asserted authority (opposite of Haldeman), Elliot Richard new AG; calls for special prosecutor had to be addressed, several candidates; Richardson selected Archibald Cox, Harvard Law Sch. Professor, liberal, &c.; Byrd/Senate inquired about Cox relationship to Richardson during Richardson's confirmation hearings; 31 May: Cox assigned/directed to investigate all possible offenses, not just those related to Watergate break-in; Cox appeared to take over the compromised/weak DoJ investigated; US Attorney's office surrendered control of case, and charges were clear, while evidence was lacking (task remaining was to gather/assemble evidence); Cox established FBI connection to bypass AG; Cox saw Ervin Senate Committee as rival, even when committee offered Cox its support; Democrats on COmmittee were united/organized, low-profile Senators; Republicans were disorganized, media-hogs; Dash (Counselor) had more experience than Thompson (Minority Counsel); TV coverage limited to public TV, major networks had only limited coverage (loss of profit when covering Watergate); 22 May: President reversed position on executive privilege, said he would cooperate; Pres. was losing ability to challenge Congress; Administration task was to control/limit information; Kleindienst argument for exec. priv. was separation of powers, but carried to extreme of independent spheres of gov. ignoring each other; Nixon faced two-front war, vs. Special Prosecutor Cox and vs. Senate Select Committee
Chapter 13 Quotes
Archibald Cox later recalled that by spring 1973, "it became apparent that the Department of Justice was not investigating the charges as vigorously as the evidence then warranted."
Baker also wanted senators to question witnesses before the committee counsels had their turn. Ervin would have none of it: "Well, my daddy used to say that if you hire a lawyer, you should either take his advice or fire him. Since we're not planning to fire Sam Dash, I suggest we take his advice.
Chapter 14: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" The Senate Committee: Summer 1973
17 May: Ervin began Senate Select Committee; limelight went to Congressional hearing; only restrictions on Congressional committees are those placed by Congressmen; Ervin Committee focus: impoundment of COngressional funds & executive prif.; generally abt executive power; Republican fissures; 1st witness: Robert Odle (CRP dir. of administration); McCord testified that break-in approved by Mitchell and Dean, uncertain of nature of operation; 18 May: date of McCord testimony; related WH pressure not to talk, from Howard Hut, John Caulfield; John Caulfield testified he was protecting Nixon, more important than law; committee support for Nixon came out during testimonies; Anthony Ulasewicz testified he had been accessory to obstruction of justice; 24 May: Bernard Barker testified he saw break-in as way to liberate Cuba from Communism; 2-week break to prepare case; public attention increasing; 5 June: resumed, Hugh Sloan: $250k to Kalmbach, $350k to Gordon Strachan (Haldeman aide), Liddy requested $38k, Stans said neither he nor Sloan wanted to know what for, Sloan resigned approx. 1 mo. later; Herbert Porter (CRP scheduling director): testified about peer pressure, got $69k from Sloan for Liddy (on request of Magruder); 12 June: Maurice Stans testimony; Porter, Sloan, Stans set stage for Magruder testimony (CRP deputy director, WH go-between); granted immunity by Judge Sirica, Magruder implicated Dean, Mitchell, LaRue, Strachan in Watergate cover-up; testified breaking law was acceptable b/c other side was too; Brezhnev visit to US, committee closed, Soviets bewildered by process; 25 June: Dean testimony (1 week); described WH atmosphere of need for political intelligence and concern about political enemies; described cover-up & his role in it, 15 September meeting, Nixon's role, etc; challenged Administration's image & integrity; WH tried to portray Dean as center of conspiracy, protecting Mitchell; 28 June: Barker: what did the President know & when did he know it?, intended to discredit Dean, wanted to show his knowledge was heresay/circumstantial, Dean counterattacked, testimony done by 29 June; 11 day adjournment by Committee for 4 July; 3 July: Nixon indirectly revealed he had considered resigning; 12 July: committee met to consider Nixon position, Nixon hospitalized, put off discussion; Magruder, Dean implicated Nixon's aides & (in turn) Nixon; Mitchell testified 3 days, stonewalled committee, referred to Huston Plan and Plumbers as "White House horrors," broadened perspective beyond, Watergate incident, activities required cover-up strategy; Mitchell didn't inform Nixon b/c didn't want to involve him, not concerned w/ the truth; Ervin: Mitchell put Nixon's political fortunes above his responsibility to executive/enforce laws; 13 July: private questioning of Alexander Butterfield; he had intimate knowledge of President's day-to-day activities; revealed existence of taping system in W.H. Oval Office/Camp David/etc; shift in momentum w/ revelation of tapes; 16 July: President ordered Secret Service not to testify; 23 July: subpoena of President ordered by Committee, Nixon rejected subpoena 3 days later; Kalmbach, LaRue, Ulasewicz testified after Butterfield about role in hush money; 24 July-1 August: Haldeman and Ehrlichman testified; Ehrlichman was very hostile to committee, pushed WH perspective that Dem. was protecting Mitchell, cover up his own involvement; maintained Plumbers were legal under President's constitutional powers, Fielding break-in and Ehrlichman's role came up, E claimed it was covert investigation; Ervin: pitted himself as defender of constitution, Administration as usurping power (executive privilege, inherent powers, impoundment of funds); testimony ended 30 July; Haldeman very formal/courteous; depicted Nixon as insulated from responsibility for low-level decisions/insulated from Watergate; depicted Dean as disconnected from Pres.; committee learned that he had access to tapes, did not see why he did and committee did not; committee set H up for later perjury charges when he lied abt tape contents; 2 Aug. and later: prominent witnesses; Helms (CIA), Gray (FBI), Kleindienst, Hunt; Oct./November: next phase of hearings; focused on campaign finances & practices; polls showed decline of Nixon support in summer 1973; deterioration of position due to domestic (farm subsidies, Social Security, minimum wage) and foreign (Cambodia) issues
Chapter 14 Quotes
When the sessions resumed on June 5, the committee focused on the structure of CREEP and the activities of key personnel. Former CREEP treasurer Hugh W. Sloan, Jr., testified that key campaign officials pressured him to cover up cash payments he had made to White House officials and to the Watergate burglars. Sloan admitted giving $250,000 to Herbert Kalmbach, the President's lawyer, and $350,000 to Gordon Strachan, Haldeman's aide. Liddy had requested $83,000, ostensibly to finance the activities of his break-in team. Sloan discussed the matter with the campaign finance chairman, Maurice Stans, who told him: "I do not want to know and you do not want to know" why Liddy needed money. Sloan described his efforts by Magruder and LaRue to suborn his perjury if he were called to testify in the burglars' trial and said that Dean told Sloan's lawyer that Sloan could be a "real hero around here" if he took the Fifth Amendment. Less than a month after the break-in, Sloan resigned, futilely trying to established some distance between himself and the other conspirators.
Magruder sought vindication when he pursued a thesis that the illegal activities could be justified because antiwar leaders themselves repeatedly broke the law. He confessed that he had lost "respect for the legal process simply because I did not see it working as I had hoped."
Dean portrayed the climate of opinion in the White House that nurtured deep antagonism toward political foes in the years before the Watergate break-in. Watergate, he said at the outset, was "an inevitable outgrowth" of an environment marked by "an excessive concern" over the impact of demonstrators, "an excessive concern" over leaks, and "an insatiable appetite" for political intelligence - all linked with "a do-it-yourself White House staff, regardless of the law."
[Mitchell] bluntly stated that the cover-up really was designed to conceal the "horrors" rather than any aspects of the Watergate break-in. Watergate, in short, "did not have the great significance that the White House horror stories... had," Mitchell concluded.
Spontaneous applause from the audience left Ehrlichman momentarily stunned. The President's confident aide had touched upon a tender, treasured principle, one not as readily dismissed as the less well understood First and Fifth amendments.
Haldeman moved to seal off Richard Nixon from any responsibility for the matters under inquiry. He described a President who generously delegated authority so that he could spend his time on the important issues rather than closely superintending details, seeing everyone who wanted to see him, and reading everything sent to him. Haldeman's statement stood in stark contrast to his massive files of presidential memoranda devoted to details, often trivial ones.
Chapter 15: "Let Others Wallow in Watergate." Agnew, the Tapes, and the Saturday Night Massacre: August-October 1973
Focus moved immediately to tapes after Butterfield's revelation; 15 August: Nixon couter-attacked witnesses, addressed nation, attacked Dean, argued for confidentiality of tapes, urged people to move on from Watergate; 1 week later held news conference; 70% of US thought he was witholding information; Q regarding Nixon's decision not to destroy tapes: reason? fight would paralyze Presidency, posterity, belief they would exonerate him and not indict him; devious purposes (making decisions look like made by someone else); 23 July: President rejected committee request for tapes; some day, refused private meeting with Committee Major/Minor ranking members (Ervin, Baker); 1st subpoena to President since 1807; Cox also got subpoena for tapes; 25 July: Nixon told Sirica he would reject Cox subpoena; 26 July: respectfully rejected Senate subpoena; 7 August deadline set by Sirica for gov. to make case for keeping tapes secret; 22 Aug: Nixon news conf.; 22 Aug: Cox and Pres. lawyer Charles Wright argued case in Sirica courtroom; 1 week later, Sirica ordered Nixon to give tapes to judge, Pres. made statement that he would appeal; AG Richardson torn btwn obligation to Pres. and obligation to assist Cox, Special Prosecutor; legal troubles of Agnew first came up 14 April, bribery/kickback charges by Baltimore jury dating back to Agnew as governor of Massachusetts, Nixon told Agnew he should ride it through; Agnew's role in WH was severely limited; 6 Aug: SJ told Agnew they would run story on his charges; Agnew told media he had "learned" of investigations (had known since April); 7 August: met w/ Nixon (2 hrs); 8 Aug: President said he supported Agnew; Agnew did not have substantive support; 22 August: Nixon news conf., defended Agnew; 1 September: another meeting between Agnew and Nixon; 5 September: another news conf., but did not address substance of allegations; Agnew felt AG Richardson was acting against him; Agnew's allegation led to further deterioration of WH position; Agnew wanted to take case to House of Representatives; Haig, Buzhardt concerned this would set precedent; 21 September: Petersen prepared statement of resignation for Agnew; 3 October: Nixon news conference, indicated charges were serious but Agnew's decision to stay in office should be respected; Agnew lacked Congressional and WH support, it was understood the VP would resign so he began plea-bargaining; 10 October: Agnew pleaded no contest in Baltimore courtroom, received 3 yrs imprisonment and $10k fine; resignation of Agnrew removed significant obstacle to impeachment/removal of Nixon; also increased pressure for Nixon to resign; 6 October: Egypt, Syria attacked Israel (Yom Kippur War); Israel lost significant ground; Nixon provided assistance, led to stalemate and caused 1973 oil embargo; long run led to Camp David Accords (1978); after Agnew resigned, Nixon told Richardson they could now get rid of Cox; 12 October: Court of Appeals ruled Nixon had to obey Cox's subpoena and hand over his tapes; question came up regarding authority to enforce court order, left largely to the WH to follow order; 17 October: Sirica could not support Senate Committee subpoena for tapes; 13 October: Nixon decided against taking case to Supreme Court (risk of adverse ruling, promise he would follow any Supreme Court ruling); 15 October: AG Richardson learned Nixon planned to give Sirica "clean" version of tapes, fire Cox (take away his power); Haig suggestion: use Sen. Stennis to review tapes (Stennis: 72 y/o Senator); October 16: proposal for releasing transcripts edited by Stennis; Cox said it was unacceptable; Nixon added stipulations, Cox suspected Nixon was trying to trap him into rejecting proposal to give him excuse to fire Cox; 19 October: Richardson wrote Nixon was being unfair toward Cox (not normal, Richardson usually "team player"); 20 October: Richardson told Nixon he was dissatisfied w/ Stennis plan & additional stipulations; didn't realize President was already opposed to idea of independent special prosecutor; Cox tried to stress danger of allowing President to bypass established institutions/procedures; Haig told Richardson he had to fire Cox; Richardson decided he had to resign; 20 October was Saturday Night Massacre; Nixon intended it to remove threat of independent prosecutor; it ended up destroying his credibility; Richardson refused to fire Cox, resigned; Ruckelhaus (Assistant AG) also refused and resigned; Solicitor General Bork carried out President's orders, urged to by Richardson/Ruckelhaus to continuity of Justice Department; told Haig he considered firing Cox, then resigning; Haig didn't care besides firing; Bork (acting AG) said he would continue Watergate investigation, continue it for 6 months (22 October); 24 October: Brok said he was considering reinstating Special Prosecutor; 26 October: President announced he would select new Special Prosecutor, but with less authority, denounced media (parallels with "Last Press Conference"); October 23: Bork signed order abolishing Special Prosecutor's office as of Oct. 21st; 1 Nov: Bork named a new Special Prosecutor; 23 October -> 1 November: no interruption of Special Prosecutor office's investigation; 23 October: Wright (President's lawyer) told Judge Sirica President would comply w/ Sirica's orders in all respects; 48 hour period after Saturday Night Massacre: public outcry, indignation, constitutional crisis; Safire encouraged Congress to find out truth behind tapes; firestorm after 20 October ensured Nixon could not escape prosecution; 25 October: worldwide military forces put on alert, intervention to enforce Arab-Israeli cease fire; Kissinger, Haig ordered alert, but many in media skeptical; late October: Nixon planned but canceled televised speech; 26 October: Nixon announced intention to appoint independent speical prosecutor, but empty due to Wright's guarantee Nixon would comply w/ Court's orders; 20+ impeachment articles introduced to House; 30 October: committee granted subpoena power to Ervin; 12 November: Time magazinel published first editorial in history, called for Nixon's resignation
Chapter 15 Quotes
"God bless the blunderers at the Watergate," labor leader George Meany said when he learned about the tapes on July 17. "If they hadn't been so clumsy, America would never have known this was going on."
The President "respectfully" rejected the Senate's subpoena on July 26. Executive privilege, he insisted in reply to Ervin, was at stake. He had invoked it, Nixon said, "only with regard to documents and recordings that cannot be made public consistent with hte confidentiality essential to the functioning of the office of the President." In short, the President would decide the priority between "confidentiality" and "alleged illegal activities," as Ervin described them.
In June he had urged the President to be more forthcoming about Watergate, in an "open forum." When Nixon's tactics did not change, Richardson thought it merely an error of judgment. Eventually he "realized that Richard Nixon was more likely to be guilty than stupid.
Nixon first heard that Vice President Agnew had legal problems of his own at a meeting with Haldeman and Ehrlichman on April 14, 1973. Haldeman reported that a Baltimore grand jury had been investigating bribery and "kickback" charges against Agnew when he was governor of Maryland, and allegations that he continued to accept illegal payments as Vice President. Those charges also led to an investigation of Agnew when he was governor of maryland, and allegations that he continued to accept illegal payments as Vice President. Those charges also led to an investigation of Agnew for income-tax evasion. According to Haldeman, Agnew was "absolutely scared shitless." Nixon was preoccupied with his own troubles; "he's just got to ride that through - what the hell - " the President remarked.
In fact, Agnew's momentary fame obscured what later became recognized: that he was a commonplace man, who, as a Nixon speechwriter wrote, merely said what good Republicans "say on commuter trains when their thoughts turn from moneymaking politics."
In his June 1969 commencement address at Ohio State University, Agnew said that a society that feared its children was "effete." The "tough guy" - from Wyatt Earp to Dirty Harry - who stands up in contrast to a weak society is the stuff of American myth and legend. Agnew did not disappoint. "A sniveling, hand-wringing power structure deserves the violent rebellion it encourages. If my generation doesn't stop cringing, yours," he told his young audience, "will inherit a lawless society where emotion and muscle displace reason."
Nixon added feelings of contempt. According to Henry Kissinger, the President had referred to Agnew as his insurance policy against assassination attempts.
Despite White House opposition, Agnew wrote to Albert on September 25, asking that the Houes inquire into the charges formulated by the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore. His laywers prepared a memorandum contending that he could not be indicted, although Vice President Aaron Burr had been indicted for the murder of Alexander Hamilton following their famous duel in 1804. (Burr was never tried.) Agnew based his claim on an 1826 precedent established when Vice President John C. Calhoun demanded a similar investigation of charges that he had improperly profited from a military contract when he was Secretary of War. The accusations apparently had been inspired by Calhoun's break with President John Quincy Adams. The House exonerated the Vice President after a forty-day investigation. Calhoun established several interesting precedents. He was re-elected in 1828 with Andrew Jackson at the head of the ticket, and thus became the first Vice President to serve under two different presidents. But then he was also the only man to resign the vice presidency - until 1973.
The decision to move for a criminal indictment of Agnew might have been a lost opportunity for Nixon. Impeachment might have become dangerously popular, to be sure; but it also would have consumed enormous time and energy, perhaps enough so that following an Agnew impeachment, Congress and the nation might have had neither the inclination nor the will to move against the President. For five years, the President had treated Agnew as a pawn. But when the Vice President resigned, Richard Nixon lost his queen.
The forty-eight hours following Cox's dismissal witnessed an extraordinary outburst of official and public indignation, instantly and dramatically reported on television. NBC's anchorman solemnly suggested that "the country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history." Opponents and even supporters of the President appeared on television to denounce his "reckless act" and his "Gestapo tactics."
[Congressman Ray] Thorton [(D-AR)] realized how suddenly "Watergate" was at the center of the committee's attention, given Agnew's resignation and the need to confirm a vice-presidential successor, arrive at new guidelines for a Special Prosecutor, and consider impeachment resolutions. Nobody, Thorton said, could have anticipated "judging these extraordinary questions."
For recently appointed FBI Director Clarence Kelley, the "Saturday Night Massacre" was a turning point. He no longer thought the Administration could be saved. Kelley's "emotions," and those of others in the top echelon of the Bureau, "all shifted into neutral," for he recognized that the President "had indeed something to hide on those White House tapes."
For Richardson, the FBI action was the most blatant exercise of presidential power in the "whole sordid history" of Watergate. "A government of laws was on the verge of becoming a government of one man," was Richardson's perception, a strikingly pointed observation from this most accommodating of men.
In the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon attempted to flush out his demons from the Watergate thicket. But there were legions more in the undergrowth. The Watergate affair had not yet matured into the "greatest constitutional crisis," but the full glare of publicity made it clear that matters had escalated to a new level. The unfolding crisis was of a house divided with regard to the fate of its president. Whether the nation would support or reject him now was the question on the table. The fractures, the divisions would have to cease; in one way or another, Richard Nixon would have to "bring us together."
Chapter 16: "Sinister Forces." Ford, Jaworski, Tape Gaps, and Taxes: November-December 1973
Chapter 17: "Fight." Tapes and Indictments: January-May 1974
Chapter 18: "Well, Al, there goes the Presidency." The House Judiciary Committee: June-July 1974
Chapter 19: Judgment Days. The Supreme Court and the Judiciary Committee: July 1974
Chapter 20: "I hereby resign." August 1974
Book Five: The Impact and Meaning of Watergate
Chapter 21: The "burden I shall bear for every day." The Pardon: September 1974
Chapter 22: In the Shadow of Watergate
Chapter 23: Richard Nixon, Watergate, and History
books/readingall the books/reading notes and pages and things
Opening Lines of famous novels
The Idiot (Dostoevsky)
The Computer and the Mind (Johnson-Laird)
Philosophical Remarks (Wittgenstein)
Watergate topic page
Wars of Watergate (Kutler)
Consider the Lobster (Wallace)
The Gun (Chivers)
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Shirer)
My kindle clippings:
Do list/needing attention:
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