President Richard M. Nixon Watergate tapes, discussions of press coverage and campaign funding (part 1 of 3)
|Speaker:||Richard M. Nixon|
|Place:||Old Executive Office Building, Washington DC|
|Description:||PARTICIPANTS: President Nixon H.R.Haldeman John D. Ehrlichman Discussions of press coverage and the issue of campaign funding; Hunt's testimony; President insisting, publicly, to Mitchell, Magruder, Liddy not to withhold testimony thinking they to protect the President; reports of promises of pardons, clemency; implications of hush money to defendants; possible Ehrlichman meetings with Mitchell, Magruders and their lawyers; possible grand jury appearance by the President; legal exposure of Dean, Haldeman, Chapin in the cover-up.|
TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDING OF A
THE PRESIDENT, H.R. HALDEMAN AND
JOHN EHRLICHMAN IN THE EXECUTIVE
OFFICE BUILDING, APRIL 14,
1973, FROM 8:55 TO 11:31 A.M.
PRESIDENT: Jack, uh, do, uh, did you reach any conclusions as to, uh, where we are, recommendations?
EHRLICHMAN: No, no conclusions.
PRESIDENT: Uh -- problems?
EHRLICHMAN: Dick Wilson, I think, is -- has an interesting column this morning.
EHRLICHMAN: Ah, yeah, it's, uh, uh, (noise) money problem. He's been analyzing this money problem (unintelligible).
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, yeah, last night.
PRESIDENT: Wilson is in the Star.
EHRLICHMAN: Well then it is twice he made this point.
PRESIDENT: So what?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible). Argues that really the, the essence of this whole thing is too much money, too easily spent, and so on. And then he, uh...
HALDEMAN: That's his great underlying, uh --
PRESIDENT: Yeah. That's what everybody -- that's what --
HALDEMAN: No, not everybody. That's a, uh, one par -...
PRESIDENT: Well , Reston lies.
HALDEMAN: ...one group thesis...
HALDEMAN: ...that, uh, Reston...
PRESIDENT: That's right.
HALDEMAN: ...Reston has on that side and point out (tape noise). And, the, the you know, his he, he, he carries it beyond -- he says solving Watergate doesn't take care of it, but, uh, then there's, uh, all the money in --
PRESIDENT: Dick wants the President to speak out on the whole general issue of money and campaign and that sort of --
EHRLICHMAN: Basically that's -- generally, but he, he gets specific on this. He says also (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: Is that what you think, go out and make a speech?
EHRLICHMAN: No, I'll tell you what I think. I think that the President's personal involvement in this is important. And I don't...
EHRLICHMAN: ...I don't think it's a speech.
PRESIDENT: Well, that's the point. I think it's -- there're other ways you can get at it. Now, I was thinking of the, uh -- before we get into that though, let's get back -- that's something we can get into later -- I'd like to get - I'd like to go in, if I could, to what your conversation with Colson was and, uh, in essence. What, what was yours, what did he and the lawyer come to tell you about?
HALDEMAN: Hunt's visit.
EHRLICHMAN: That visit was to tell me that Hunt was going to testify on Monday afternoon.
PRESIDENT: How does he know that?
HALDEMAN: Um hmm.
PRESIDENT: How does, how does he get such information?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, undoubtedly through Bittman.
EHRLICHMAN: Or Bittman through Shapiro.
PRESIDENT: Now why, why is Hunt testifying? Did he say? Or, uh, what...
EHRLICHMAN: He didn't say.
PRESIDENT: ...(unintelligible) about the --
EHRLICHMAN: He said -- I'll tell you what he said and then I'll tell you what I think the fact is -- he said Hunt was testifying because there was no longer any point in being silent. That, uh, uh, so many other people were testifying that there was no -- he wasn't really keeping any secrets.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Yeah.
EHRLICHMAN: Couldn't add much. Uh, my, my feeling is that Bittman got very antsy when this grand jury started focusing on the aftermath...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) know what was involved
HALDEMAN: That's it exactly.
EHRLICHMAN: ...and that he went to the U.S. Attorney and he said, "Maybe I can persuade my client to talk."
PRESIDENT: What does, uh, what do Colson, et al, Colson and Shapiro think we ought to do under these circumstances? Get busy and nail Wilson and, uh, nail Mitchell in a hurry? Is that what he means?
PRESIDENT: How is that going to help?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, they feel that...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) I just want to get the best effort.
EHRLICHMAN: ...they feel that after Hunt testifies that the whole thing's going to fall in, in short order.
EHRLICHMAN: That Mitchell and, uh, Magruder will involuntarily be, uh, uh, indicted.
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) say...
EHRLICHMAN: ...that you have lost any possibly of initiative, so - for participation...
PRESIDENT: So, what does Colson...
PRESIDENT: ...want us to do?
EHRLICHMAN: He wants you to do several things. He wants you to persuade Liddy to talk.
EHRLICHMAN: Yes, sir. That's his - I didn't bring my notes, but basically -
PRESIDENT: Oh. Last night you didn't mention this, but that's alright.
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, I thought I had.
PRESIDENT: Maybe you did, maybe you did.
EHRLICHMAN: I didn't, I didn't...
EHRLICHMAN: ...in any event, he didn't -
PRESIDENT: I would bring, he-, le-, let Liddy in and tell him to talk?
EHRLICHMAN: You can't bring him in. He's in jail. But, uh -
EHRLICHMAN: You would send, you'd send word to him, and of course wanting him to make full disclosure or in some way you would be activist on this score.
HALDEMAN: There's no, there's -- that isn't -- doesn't involve any real problem. As Dean points out, uh, Liddy is not talking 'cause he thinks he's supposed not to talk. If he is supposed to talk, he will. All he needs is a signal, if you want to turn Liddy up.
PRESIDENT: Yeah, oh -- yeah. But the point that...
HALDEMAN: Face it, he believes --
PRESIDENT: ...Colson wants is a public signal. Is that right?
HALDEMAN: No, he (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: A public signal (unintelligible) what the hell do you do?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) he wants to be able to -- he wants you to be able to, to say afterward that you cracked the case.
PRESIDENT: Go ahead. What else?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I forget what else. Do you remember, Bob? Uh, uh --
HALDEMAN: Well, that was basically (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: Basically, basically, uh, he, he feels that the next forty-eight hours are the, are the last chance...
EHRLICHMAN: ...for the White House to get out in front of this and that once Hunt goes on, then that's the ball game.
PRESIDENT: But you've got to be out in front earlier.
EHRLICHMAN: Well --
PRESIDENT: But, I mean/sorry, not earlier, but publicly.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, either
EHRLICHMAN: ...either publicly or with provable, identifiable steps which can be referred to later as having been the proximate cause.
PRESIDENT: He's just not talking because he thinks the President doesn't want him to talk? Is that the point?
EHRLICHMAN: He's -- according to them...
PRESIDENT: (Noise)...Mitchell...(Noise) Mitchell's given him a promise of a pardon (tape noise) Bittman?
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, uh, no, according to, uh, uh, Colson and Shapiro. And I don't know where they get that.
PRESIDENT: Mitchell has promised Liddy a pardon?
EHRLICHMAN: Yes, sir. Other points that Colson may not have mentioned, uh, uh, -- (tape noise)
PRESIDENT: I have an uneasy feeling that, that Magruder story may have been planted.
PRESIDENT: Or is it true?
HALDEMAN: There, there's a third Magruder phone call which I haven't heard that, uh, uh, says...
PRESIDENT: Says he did talk to the press?
HALDEMAN: ...says he did talk to a reporter on Monday -- did not say any of the things he's, he's reported to have said, that what he, that -- he said it wasn't an important conversation. He said the same -- he gave the reporter the same line.
HALDEMAN: That, you know -- but in listening to Magruder's thing...
HALDEMAN: ...I was convinced he wasn't completely telling the truth that he -- in what he was saying. As you get into it, I'm convinced that his (unintelligible) that part was pretty much...
PRESIDENT: Uh, but you come to this -- all these pieces must be put together now. But you come to Magruder, uh, where the hell does Colson get such a thing? Uh, or is Colson a liar or --
EHRLICHMAN: Shapiro, Shapiro says he has a very good press contact who has proved very reliable to him and he says his, his practice in this town depends on his knowing what's going on. And he's (unintelligible) press contact. This is one of the -- and he's always found it to be --
PRESIDENT: He says that he's talked to Magruder and Magruder said that, that -- ?
HALDEMAN: Yeah. What they've now told us is we'll never get the transcript. That he --
PRESIDENT: Magruder, think Magruder may have done this?
EHRLICHMAN: I think Magruder may have talked, talked to somebody in the press and that, that was...
PRESIDENT: But, but in the great detail that Colson went into that he nailed Bob Haldeman, I mean the way Colson did, he says he, he had Colson in the tube...
PRESIDENT: ...but, but not in any way that was particularly, ah, bad. Right?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I think, I think like so many things this got, this got planted as a little seed by Shapiro with Colson and that it grew and, uh, uh, uh --
PRESIDENT: Oh yeah?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh-huh. I'd, I'd just --
HALDEMAN: I would guess what's happened is he's got this report from -- Colson does -- from Danny Hofgren that at the bar in the Bahamas with (unintelligible) or something (tape noise) one night said to Hofgren, "Jesus, everybody was involved in this." He didn't use the --
PRESIDENT: Uh hmm.
EHRLICHMAN: Everybody knew about it.
HALDEMAN: Mitchell, Haldeman, Colson, Dean, the President --
HALDEMAN: He, he specifically said the President.
PRESIDENT: ...Magruder doesn't believe that, though, does he?
HALDEMAN: No. Ya know, I've got it, I've got...
PRESIDENT: I just wonder if he believes it. I'm curious because -- do you think he believes it, John?
EHRLICHMAN: No. This tape's very convincing and Higby handled it so well that Magruder has closed all those doors now, with this tape.
PRESIDENT: What good will that do, John?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, sir, it beats the socks off him if he ever gets off the reservation.
PRESIDENT: Can you use the tape?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, no. You can use Higby.
HALDEMAN: Why can't you use the tape?
PRESIDENT: Well --
EHRLICHMAN: It's an illegal tape.
HALDEMAN: No, it's not.
HALDEMAN: It is not.
PRESIDENT: That you tell somebody --
HALDEMAN: No, sir.
EHRLICHMAN: No beeper on it.
HALDEMAN: There is no beeper required. You check the Washington law.
HALDEMAN: District of Columbia is under federal law and the federal law does not require disclosure to the other party of the recording of phone conversations. The phone call was made to Magruder's lawyer's office which is also in the District of Columbia so both ends of the conversation were in the District of Columbia and there is no law requiring disclosure.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, that's interesting.
HALDEMAN: It's perfectly legal.
PRESIDENT: Well, anyway, anyway --
HALDEMAN: It can (or may) not be admissible, but it's legal.
PRESIDENT: That's interesting. That's a new one. (Unintelligible) beep every, every while then, now and then. I thought it was. However, I never heard anybody beepin', and hell--didn't you?
HALDEMAN: No. It all depends on where you are. Some -- the basic law in most States is that you must disclose to the other party that you're recording the conversation.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. What is the situation -- I might -- I'll get past this in a hurry -- what is the situation, John, in your opinion on what was Colson's and/or Shapiro's motive in building up the Magruder story? Maybe they believe it.
EHRLICHMAN: Their, their innuendo is that, that Mitchell has put Magruder up to this.
PRESIDENT: I guess not. Okay. There's the motive. Now, let me come to something else.
HALDEMAN: I don't believe that Magruder's --
PRESIDENT: I don't either. Not at all.
HALDEMAN: I don't believe Mitchell has tried to --
HALDEMAN: I don't believe Mitchell tried to Magruder's faith 'cause he refers to Mitchell and now that I have decided to talk I am going to tell Mr. Mitchell and he's gonna be very unhappy with me 'cause he's told me not to.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) tape, uh
HALDEMAN: I did
PRESIDENT: And he's an emotional fellow who's ready to crack.
EHRLICHMAN: I, I really, I have no doubt that he's ready to talk.
PRESIDENT: What is he -- he hasn't been subpoenaed yet, has he?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, he won't be. But he's already been there.
EHRLICHMAN: Dean doesn't think they'll give him a, a chance back unless he comes running at them and just and, uh, spills it.
HALDEMAN: 'Cause (A) they don't call the suspects and (B) they don't recall perjury witnesses.
PRESIDENT: Right. What would you do if you were his lawyer? Wouldn't you advise him to go in and try and purge himself, at least -- get rid of one charge, doesn't he?
EHRLICHMAN: I'm not sure he's rid of it, but it certainly reduces it when he comes in voluntarily.
PRESIDENT: The way I understand it under the law, John, if he were to come to the...
EHRLICHMAN: But he's hooked.
PRESIDENT: ...Grand Jury.
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, but he's hooked, see. There's contrary evidence already...
PRESIDENT: Oh, I see.
EHRLICHMAN: ...before the Grand Jury.
PRESIDENT: In other words --
EHRLICHMAN: If he did that --
PRESIDENT: Strachan -- Strachan got in before there was (unintelligible) evidence.
HALDEMAN: No, (unintelligible)...
EHRLICHMAN: And, and you take the circumstances, now...
PRESIDENT: They better have...
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah. If it's known, if it's known, for instance, that Hunt is going to come in and testify, then Magruder comes rushing in and says I want to tell all, it's, uh, you know --
PRESIDENT: Magruder's stuck on both counts.
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, but I think he could improve it. I think he, he really could help to purge himself.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible). I've come to the -- may I come to the other things that, uh, that you, uh, you talked to Colson about, uh? Hunt going to talk -- what is Hunt going to say? Do we have any idea?
PRESIDENT: He says, for example, will he say that Colson promised him clemency?
EHRLICHMAN: No. Apparently not.
PRESIDENT: And, uh, you see the, the only, the only possible involvement Of the President in this is that. Now apparently, John, either you or Bob or Dean, somebody told me they said Cols-, told Colson not to discuss it with me.
EHRLICHMAN: I did.
PRESIDENT: You did. How did, bar-, how did it get to you then, John? How did you know that the, the matter had to be discussed with Bittman or something like that?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I...
PRESIDENT: When did this happen?
EHRLICHMAN: I had...
PRESIDENT: I remember a conversation this day, it was about five thirty or six o'clock, that Colson only dropped it in sort of parenthetically. He said, "I had a little problem today," -- and we were talking about the defendants-- and I said, I sought to reassure him, you know, and so forth. And I said, "Well, that's" -- told me about Hunt's wife -- he said, "It's a terrible thing," and I said, "Obviously we'll do just, we will take that into consideration." And that was the total of the conversation.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I had, uh, we had had a couple of conversations in my office --
PRESIDENT: With Colson?
EHRLICHMAN: With, or, I had with Colson. Yeah.
PRESIDENT: Well, how was...
EHRLICHMAN: And I, uh --
PRESIDENT: ...who was getting, Who was, was Bittman getting to Colson? Was that the point? Who, who --
EHRLICHMAN: Now Hunt, Hunt had written to Colson.
EHRLICHMAN: Hunt wrote Colson a very I've-been-abandoned kind of letter.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. When was this, John?
EHRLICHMAN: I am sorry, I --
PRESIDENT: After the election?
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, yes. Yeah.
PRESIDENT: Oh, and Chuck Colson -- you knew about this letter?
EHRLICHMAN: Colson come in to tell me about it. And he said, "What shall I do?" And I said, "Well, uh, better talk to him, I think somebody 'd better talk to him -- the guy is obviously very distraught..."
EHRLICHMAN: "...and, uh, feeling abandoned."
PRESIDENT: Right. Good advice.
EHRLICHMAN: And, uh, he said, "Well, what can, what can I tell him about, uh, clemency or pardon? n And I said, "You can't tell him anything about clemency or a pardon." And I said, "Under no circumstances should this ever be raised with the President."
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Told him not to raise it with me. Well, he raised it, I must say, in a tangential way. Now he denies that, as I understand it, that he said that he'd be out by Christmas. He says --
EHRLICHMAN: I never, I've never talked to Chuck about that, have you.
HALDEMAN(?) Yes and no.
PRESIDENT: What did he say he said?
Well, I'll tell you what I, what Dean, or somebody tells me he said he said. He said that he didn't -- he just talked to, saw, saw Bittman casually, or on the phone or something of that sort.
PRESIDENT: That was it.
PRESIDENT: And he said to Bittman...
PRESIDENT: ...he said, "I," he said, "I...
EHRLICHMAN: Well, now that
PRESIDENT: ...he said, "I...
EHRLICHMAN: ...a difference.
PRESIDENT: Listen, I have written it. He said, "I, uh, I, uh, I, I know that, uh, I know about Hunt's concern about clemency. I, Chuck Colson, feel terrible about it, 'cause I knew his wife." And, uh, he said, "I will, will go to bat for him and I have reason to believe that my views would be, ah, listened to." Well it's the last part, part that, uh, might in any way remain, although...
EHRLICHMAN: He says he talked to Bittman and that he was very skillful...
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: ...in avoiding any commitment. He says Bittman...
EHRLICHMAN: ...Bittman was pitching 'em, but that he wasn't catching 'em. And...
EHRLICHMAN: ...he either has a tape of that meeting or a tape of the conversation or some such thing.
HALDEMAN: That's where he lost his thread, then. Yes, said you and Dean told him you, two promised clemency, and that he was smarter than you and, and didn't.
PRESIDENT: You haven't said you and Dean promised?
HALDEMAN: That Ehrlichman and Dean told him to promise...
PRESIDENT: Well, anyway, whatever the case might be, uh, let me ask a question...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) a little strange.
PRESIDENT: ...does, does Hunt -- well, just so that he, uh -- does he, does, does, does he indicate that they, that Hue, Hunt's going to talk to that subject for example -- the promise of clemency?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, he didn't say that. He didn't say that. I didn't ask him.
HALDEMAN: Well, going back to the basis, John -- as I recall, they don't have anything to indi- --we don't know how they know Hunt's going to testify. We assume that Bittman told them...
HALDEMAN: ...(A). (B) we don't, they don't have any indication, based on their knowledge that Hunt's going to testify, of what Hunt is going to testify to, except on the basis of Shapiro's meeting with Hunt...
EHRLICHMAN: The other day.
HALDEMAN: ...the other day. And they're assuming that what Hunt told Shapiro is what he will tell the Grand Jury, but I don't know why they'd have any reason to assume that.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't, uh, uh, -- Shapiro's general comment was that Hunt would corroborate a lot of McCord's hearsay...
EHRLICHMAN: ...but that it also would be hearsay.
PRESIDENT: Alright. Hunt, however, and this is where Colson comes in, right? Hard. Hunt could testify on Colson's pressure.
HALDEMAN: Yeah. But what they, what they've said he's gonna test-...
HALDEMAN: ...on the coverup, what he is gonna testify...
PRESIDENT: Now wait a minute...
PRESIDENT: ...I'm talking about something entirely different...
PRESIDENT: ...you're talking about when Colson
PRESIDENT: ...Colson and Liddy were in the office and Colson, Colson picked up the phone and called Magruder.
HALDEMAN: That's right. Sure.
PRESIDENT: Now, there, uh, now Colson says that, uh, that they didn't discuss bugging at that point. Hunt could say, "I went in and I showed this whole plan to Colson and Colson phoned -- picked up the phone...
EHRLICHMAN(?): That's right.
PRESIDENT: ...and talked to Magruder."
PRESIDENT: ...does, does, does, does Colson realize his vulnerability there?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, course Colson claims he has no vulnerability, because when Hunt and Liddy come in to talk to him they talked in very general terms.
PRESIDENT: I understand that.
EHRLICHMAN: So, he...
EHRLICHMAN: ...doesn't acknowledge
EHRLICHMAN: ...he doesn't acknowledge that there's any possibility --
PRESIDENT: I, I understand that, but I'm just simply saying, it's...
EHRLICHMAN: I think he's right.
PRESIDENT: ...that Hunt and Liddy could...
EHRLICHMAN: That's true.
PRESIDENT: ...could, could, could charge that -- that's the point. They, they, they -- if they talk, I would assume they would get into that point with them, any, any cross-examiner.
EHRLICHMAN: I, I've asked Colson specifically about that conversation and he maintains that they were talking, uh, in general terms about intelligence and when they said intelligence he meant one thing and apparently they meant another.
PRESIDENT: Question, uh, for example, uh, is, is Hunt preparing to talk on other activities that he engaged in?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I couldn't, I couldn't derive that...
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) at all.
PRESIDENT: For the White House and for the -- you know?
EHRLICHMAN: I, I couldn't, I couldn't get that at all.
PRESIDENT: The U.S. Attorney, I would assume, would not be pressing (unintelligible).
EHRLICHMAN: Ordinarily not.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, McCord, McCord volunteered this Hank Greenspun thing, gratuitously apparently, not, not --
PRESIDENT: Could, can you tell me, is that a serious thing? Did, did they really try to get into Hank Greenspun's
EHRLICHMAN: I guess they actually got in.
PRESIDENT: What in the name of Christ, though, does Hank Greenspun got with -- anything to do with Mitchell or anybody else?
EHRLICHMAN: Nothing. Well, now, Mitchell --
EHRLICHMAN: Here's -- yeah, Hughes. And these two fellows, Colson and Shapiro, uh, uh -- Colson threw that out.
PRESIDENT: Hughes on whom?
EHRLICHMAN Well, you know the Hughes thing is cut into two factions...
PRESIDENT: I don't --
EHRLICHMAN: (A) and then the...
PRESIDENT: Uh, fighting --
EHRLICHMAN: ...and then the other, and they're fighting.
EHRLICHMAN: Bennett, Senator Bennett's son, for whom Hunt worked...
EHRLICHMAN: ...represents one of those factions.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. So he ordered the bugging?
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know.
EHRLICHMAN: ...I know the...
EHRLICHMAN: ...it's a bag job.
HALDEMAN: They busted his safe to get something out of it.
EHRLICHMAN: Now --
HALDEMAN: Wasn't that it? They flew out, broke his safe, got something out...
HALDEMAN: ...got on the airplane and flew away.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, as they sat there in my office...
PRESIDENT: There're others...
PRESIDENT: ...other delicate things, too. You've got, apart from my poor damn dumb brother, which unfortunately or fortunately was a long time ago, but, uh, more recently, you've got Herbert Humphrey's son works for him, and, of course, they're, they're tied in with O'Brien, I suppose. But maybe they were trying to get it for that reason.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know why. The, the two of them put on a little charade for me in the office...
PRESIDENT: Shapiro and Colson?
EHRLICHMAN: ...as we -- yeah -- as we talked about this, and it may have been genuine and it may not. But...
PRESIDENT: But they didn't know anything about it?
EHRLICHMAN: ...but they -- no -- they said, one said to the other, "Say, that may have something to do with the New York Grand Jury," meaning the Vesco Grand Jury which is a runaway and which is into --
PRESIDENT: You think Colson knew about that?
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know. I don't say he knew about it. I said, he says he doesn't know even who Hank Greenspun is.
PRESIDENT: He should. Everybody knows he's the editor. His son, for Christ's sakes --
EHRLICHMAN: I, I'll take him at face value on that one, uh, uh, it isn't any other evidence.
PRESIDENT: You didn't know that either?
EHRLICHMAN: I, I know very well who he is.
PRESIDENT: Alright. Uh, let me just take a minute further and run out the Hunt thing, and then the Grand Jury. I just want to get all the pieces in my mind...
PRESIDENT: ...if I can.
PRESIDENT: Uh, Hunt's testimony on pay-off, of course, would be very important.
PRESIDENT: Is he prepared to testify on that?
EHRLICHMAN: I think so, that's what they say, that he will, and that he will implicate O'Brien and Parkinson. And, uh, then, of course, ah --
PRESIDENT: O'Brien and Parkinson?
EHRLICHMAN: The lawyers.
PRESIDENT: Were they the ones that talked to Hunt?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, he says they were and that they handed him the money. He in turn handed it to his wife and she was the, uh, go-between for the...
PRESIDENT: For what purpose? That's the key to it all.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I think, uh, he'll, he'll hook, hang 'em up on obstruction of justice.
PRESIDENT: Can Hunt do that?
HALDEMAN: How can he do that? Why would he simply -- why doesn't he accomplish his purpose simply by saying they gave the money to handle their legal fees?
EHRLICHMAN: They're -- all hang out there apparently.
PRESIDENT: Now this is...
HALDEMAN: I don't think --
PRESIDENT: ...this, this is what Colson tells you guys?
HALDEMAN: That's right. I don't...
HALDEMAN: ...have any other information on this.
PRESIDENT: That, Hunt, that Hunt then is going to go. Well, now that, that, that raises the, the problem on, -- with regard to Kalmbach. He has possible vulnerability as to whether he was aware, in other words, the motive, the motive --
EHRLICHMAN: This doesn't add anything to the Kalmbach problem at all.
PRESIDENT: What happened...
PRESIDENT: ...what happened on that?
EHRLICHMAN: Dean called Kalmbach.
PRESIDENT: And what did Dean call Kalmbach about?
EHRLICHMAN: And he said we have to raise some money in connection with the, the, uh, uh, aftermath, and I don't know how he described it to Herb. Uh, Herb said how much do you need, and, uh...
PRESIDENT: It was never discussed then?
EHRLICHMAN: ...presumably Dean told him and Herb went to a couple of donors and got some money and sent it back.
HALDEMAN: Dean says very flatly that Kalmbach did not know the purpose, uh, for the money and has no problem.
PRESIDENT: Dean does know the purpose...
PRESIDENT: ...however. Hunt testifies -- so, so basically then Hunt will testify that it was so-called hush money. Right?
EHRLICHMAN: I think so. Now that again, my water can't rise any higher than source.
PRESIDENT: I understand.
EHRLICHMAN: But that's that...
PRESIDENT: What is your, what is your...
EHRLICHMAN: ...that's, that --
PRESIDENT: What does that serve him, let me ask, just to try to, uh...
PRESIDENT: ...I mean, would it serve him?
EHRLICHMAN: The only thing it serves him is to, uh, uh...
PRESIDENT: Would it reduce his sentence?
EHRLICHMAN: ...have his sentence remitted, that's all.
HALDEMAN: He'd be serving the same purpose by not saying it was hush money -- by, by saying he gave it to "these guys that I had recruited for this job and I..."
PRESIDENT: I know.
HALDEMAN: "...felt badly about their family and," you know, "a great deal about it."
P. RESIDENT: That's right, that's what it ought to be and that's got to be the story that, uh, and that...
PRESIDENT: ...that will be the defense of, uh, the people, right?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) the only defense they have and so forth.
HALDEMAN: But that...
HALDEMAN: ...that was the line that he had used around here.
HALDEMAN: That was the line that they used around here. That we've got to have money for their legal fees and family sup-...
PRESIDENT: Support them. Well, I heard something about that at a much later time.
PRESIDENT: And, frankly, not knowing much about obstruction of justice, I thought it was perfectly proper.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, it's like the...
PRESIDENT: Would it be perfectly proper?
EHRLICHMAN: ...the defense of the...
EHRLICHMAN: ...the, uh, Chicago Seven.
PRESIDENT: The Chicago Seven?
HALDEMAN: They had a defense fund for everybody.
PRESIDENT: Not only a defense fund, Christ, they, they take care of the living expenses, too...
UNIDENTIFIED: Was there any --
PRESIDENT: ...despite what all this crap about just legal fees, they take care of themselves. They raise -- you remember the Scottsboro case? Christ. The, uh, uh, the Communist front raised a million dollars for the Scottsboro people. Nine hundred thousand went into the pockets of the Scotts-, er, uh, Communists.
PRESIDENT: ...so it's common practice.
PRESIDENT: Nevertheless, that's Hunt then saying about the payoff. Alright -- Hunt, on other activities: uh, Hunt then according to Colson was not, uh --(tape noise) get into. What Colson meant about the door of the Oval Office.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, I'll have to get back to you on that, 'cause Shapiro was there and I didn't want to get into it.
PRESIDENT: He --
HALDEMAN: No, but it wasn't, it was in connection --
PRESIDENT: No, not -- it was in an earlier conversation...
HALDEMAN: Your instructions said --
PRESIDENT: ...about the Magruder conversation...
PRESIDENT: ...when Colson was, uh -- I think on the Magruder conversation, from what I have seen...
PRESIDENT: ...it seems to me that --
EHRLICHMAN: ...'cause Magruder doesn't got to the door of the Oval Office. He doesn't even come to visit me...
PRESIDENT: I know that.
EHRLICHMAN: ...in the White House.
PRESIDENT: But he, he -- it is Colson's, it is Colson's view that Magruder's talking would have the effect of bringing it there because of the -- I think what he's really referring to, John, is that by reason of Colson, uh, by reason of Magruder nailing Haldeman and, er, and Colson, that that's the door to the Oval Office. I don't know what else because...
PRESIDENT: ...there's nobody else around, nobody physically around.
HALDEMAN: Magruder isn't going to nail Haldeman.
PRESIDENT: Well, let's see. I don't think so either, but --
PRESIDENT: Well that is, that tape is, is invaluable, is it not?
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, I suggest to Bob that he keep it.
HALDEMAN: And I disregard that as (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: Let me just say a couple of things that we have to get there. We, we, uh...
HALDEMAN: Well, when we come to that, we'd take (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: ...in regard to your, regard to your, uh, uh, your, your views and so forth and so on, now, uh I was told the other day, uh, last night, John, you and Bob or somebody -- I guess you and I were talking about, uh, somebody going to see Mitchell. And you suggested Rogers. Got any other better names? Why did you...
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I've been up and down the list, and uh --
PRESIDENT: ...why did you suggest Rogers?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I suggested Rogers because --
PRESIDENT: First let me tell you -- purpose of mission -- tell me what it is, now.
EHRLICHMAN: The purpose of the mission is to go and bring him to a focus on this and I'd say, "The jig is up. And the President strongly feels that the only way that this thing can end up being even a little net plus for the Administration and for the Presidency and preserve some thread is for you to go in and, and, uh voluntarily, uh, make a statement."
PRESIDENT: A statement that Haldeman, uh, has prepared.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, uh, a, a sta-, statement that basically says...
HALDEMAN: No. He's got to go beyond that.
EHRLICHMAN: "I am, I am both morally and legally responsible."
EHRLICHMAN: Now, the reason for Rogers is that he's clean, number one...
EHRLICHMAN: ...uh, he has been both, uh, Attorney General and has this other investigatory...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and Senatorial background and so forth. And there isn't anybody that Mitchell trusts, except Haldeman.
PRESIDENT: He hates Rogers.
EHRLICHMAN: I understand.
HALDEMAN: Doesn't, doesn't trust Rogers but he would know if Rogers came...
EHRLICHMAN: That it was...
HALDEMAN: that it was you.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, the other, the only other alternative, going up and down the list --
HALDEMAN: Also, it from a public viewpoint Rogers is the dean of the Cabinet...
PRE SIDENT: Yeah.
HALDEMAN: ...and is the logical man as, n as an attorney, and former Attorney General.
PRESIDENT: From a public viewpoint, that may be but, also...
EHRLICHMAN: Fifty reasons not to do this.
HALDEMAN: You've thought of those?
PRESIDENT: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
EHRLICHMAN: There, there, and ther, there have consistently been -- you go back through the history of this --
PRESIDENT: I know, but now is the time to do something. I agree with you.
EHRLICHMAN: Now is the only time, probably, and I'm, I'm persuaded by that argument.
PRESIDENT: Oh, I am too. I'm, I'm not, -- I'm not arguing about not doing it...
EHRLICHMAN: I understand.
PRESIDENT: I'm just trying to talk about the names
EHRLICHMAN: Okay. Uh, in, in going down the list, John Alexander is the only other one that I have come to that, that in any way could, could bridge it. Garment can't do it.
PRESIDENT: Now, let me give you another name...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) President.
PRESIDENT: ...let me give you another name. Ken Rush. (Unintelligible). He's a fine lawyer, utterly clean. Uh, a long-time friend of Mitchell's -- not a close friend, but he's known him, you know, in New York, uh, and that grew up there, they are, they, you know, they sort of -- Rush would understand it all. Uh, Mitchell does not hate him -- does trust him.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know how able Rush is. I'd, uh -- he's got -- uh, I just don't know. Uh, another name -- uh, two other names that have occurred to me that I'll throw out, uh, one is Eliot Richardson and the other is, uh, uh, Kleindienst. There is another possibility and that's Henry Petersen. Well, that of course...
PRESIDENT: Well --
EHRLICHMAN: but he's in the prosecutorial end...
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: And so is Kleindienst.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, that's-the trouble.
PRESIDENT: Kleindienst, Kleindienst revealing to Mitchell the contents of the Grand Jury and all the rest...
PRESIDENT: ...is wrong.
EHRLICHMAN: I, I must say I am impressed with the argument that the President should be personally involved in it at this stage.
PRESIDENT: Right. I agree.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, old John, uh, Dean had a, had an interesting -- got a phone call from him about 12:30.
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, no. I was working on something I'll tell you about here.
PRESIDENT: What did you do?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, well, not much last night.
PRESIDENT: You mean another subject?
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, no. No, this --
HALDEMAN: There is no other subject. (Laughs)
EHRLICHMAN: This week there's no other subject.
EHRLICHMAN: That, uh, no, I'll tell you. Last night when I got home I decided that, that, uh, I would sit down and try to put down on paper a report to you about what I have been doing since you asked me to get into this.
PRESIDENT: Right, right.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, I am concerned about the overall aspect of this and then -- I want to talk about that before we --
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know what your timing is like.
PRESIDENT: No problem.
EHRLICHMAN: We'll probably get back to it.
PRESIDENT: Uh, got plenty of time.
EHRLICHMAN: But, Dean called and he said, "Alright, here's a scenario." He said, "We've all been trying to figure out..."
EHRLICHMAN: "...how to make this go." He says, "The President calls Mitchell into his office on Saturday. He says, 'John, you've got to do this and here are the facts: bing, bing, bing, bing.' And then that's -- you pull this paper out here. And you'd better go do this. And Mitchell stonewalls you. So then, John says, 'I don't know why you're asking me down here. You can't ask a man to do a thing like that. I need my lawyer. Uh, uh, I don't know what I'm facing? He says, 'You just really can't expect me to do this?' Uh, so the President says, 'Well, John, I have no alternative.' And with that, uh, uh, the President calls the U.S. Attorney and says, 'I, the President of the United States of America and leader of the free world want to go before the Grand Jury on Monday.'"
PRESIDENT: I won't even comment on that.
HALDEMAN: That's a silly (unintelligible).
EHRLICHMAN: What I mean is, we're -- typical of the thinking of -- we're running out every, every line. So that was 12:30 this morning. I, uh, uh, but, but I...
PRESIDENT: I go before the Grand Jury -- that's...
EHRLICHMAN: ...I -
PRESIDENT That's like putting Bob on national television uh...
HALDEMAN: With Dan Rather.
HALDEMAN: With Dan Rather.
PRESIDENT: ...well, well by putting it on national television period. When, uh, your, uh, when your, when your audience basically is not that big.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, let's, let's take it just as far as you calling Mitchell into the Oval Office, as a, as a...
EHRLICHMAN: ...essentially convinced that Mitchell was linchpin in this thing...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and that if he goes down, it can redound to the administration's advantage. If he doesn't then we're --
PRESIDENT: How can it redound to our advantage?
PRESIDENT: There's others - - -
EHRLICHMAN: ...That. You have a report from me based on three weeks' work, that when you got it, you immediately acted to call Mitchell in as the, as the provable...
PRESIDENT: I see.
PRESIDENT: I see.
EHRLICHMAN: ...and you say, "My God, I've got a report here. And it's clear from this report that you are guilty as hell. Now, John, for Christ's sake go on in there and do what you should. And let's get this thing cleared up and get it off the country's back and move on." And, uh, uh --
HALDEMAN: Well, plus the given side of it is that that's the only...
PRESIDENT: Even way to --
HALDEMAN: ...way to beat 'er down.
PRESIDENT: Well --
HALDEMAN: Now, from John Mitchell's own personal viewpoint that's the only salvation for John Mitchell. Can you see another way? And, obviously, once you have it, you've -- he's got to admit it.
PRESIDENT: He's, he's not gonna make it, anyway.
HALDEMAN: Another factor in that to consider for what it's worth, is the point Connally made to me in that conversation we had on this.
PRESIDENT: I ought to talk to Mitchell?
HALDEMAN: I don't know whether he said this to you or not. He made the point that you had to get this laid out and that the only way it could hurt you is if it ultimately went to Mitchell. And that, that would be the one man you couldn't afford to let get hung on this.
PRESIDENT: Even worse than Hughes talk.
HALDEMAN: He thought so. Seemed to be...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) That's true. Yeah.
HALDEMAN: ...seemed to be, because he's the epitome of your...
HALDEMAN: ...your hard line.
PRESIDENT: I think he's wrong about that. I think this is the worst one, well, due, due to the closeness to the President at the time of the crime.
HALDEMAN: But --
PRESIDENT: Would you agree, John?
HALDEMAN: Well, what's bad --
EHRLICHMAN: That's the way I see it.
HALDEMAN: But, what Connally also said was unless it's the President himself who nails Mitchell, then the President is (unintelligible).
EHRLICHMAN: Can I pull up this into the larger, in a larger picture? We've gotta live day to day through these things...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and forget, uh, the, uh, perspective that will be put on this period...
EHRLICHMAN: ...three months later.
PRESIDENT: The point is whether or not -- I think I've got the larger picture -- I think, I mean I, and I, in this regard, the point is this that the --we need some action before, uh -- in other words, if, if it's like my, my feeling about having the Grand Jury do it and the court system do it rather than Ervin Committee -- now we want the President to do it rather than the Grand Jury.
PRESIDENT: And I agree with that.
EHRLICHMAN Well, you're doing it in aid of the Grand Jury.
PRESIDENT: No. No. I didn't mean it. I didn't mean rather than the Grand Jury, but I mean to, to, to, to worm the truth -- now look, I, I -- the Grand Jury doesn't drag him in, he goes in as a result of the President's asking him to go in.
HALDEMAN: Okay. But while you're at that point could I argue a contrary view for a minute? 'Cause I don't agree with that.
HALDEMAN: I strongly feel, thinking it through, with all the stuff we talked about last night, that you don't want to rush in and that the solution here, if we can find it -- maybe it's impossible, is...
PRESIDENT: Is for Mitchell to come voluntarily?
HALDEMAN: Well, or for Magruder to come voluntarily and nail Mitchell. But if the solution is -- I agree that some sort of --
PRESIDENT: Where does Magruder come to? Me?
HALDEMAN: No. The, the U.S. Attorney. That --
PRESIDENT: Well, why does -- why don't I urge Magruder to -- I mean let me, let me look at this. The urging of Liddy to testify, the urging of Magruder to testify and Mitchell. John run those by, by -- I didn't mean to stop your...
EHRLICHMAN: No, that's alright.
PRESIDENT: ...your whole analysis but I think, I think I know what you're, what, what, what -- isn't that really the essence of it?
EHRLICHMAN: I'm trying to write the news magazine story for next Monday...
EHRLICHMAN: ...a week, Monday a week. And, if it is that "Grand Jury Indicts Mitchell"...
PRESIDENT: Right. .
EHRLICHMAN: ..."The White House main effort to cover up, uh, finally collapsed last week when the Grand Jury indicted John Mitchell and Jeb Magruder,"...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and uh, "Cracking the case was the test)- many of a, a number of, uh, peripheral witnesses who -- each of whom contributed to developing a, a uh, cross-triangulation and permitted the Grand Jury to analyze it," and so on and so forth. And then "the final, the final straw that broke the camel's back was, uh, an investigator's discovery of this and that and the other thing." That's one set of facts. Uh, uh, and then the- tag on that is "The White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler said that the White House would have no comment."
PRESIDENT: I know, I know. It can't be done.
EHRLICHMAN: The other one, the other one goes: "Events moved swiftly last week, after the President was presented with a report indicating that, uh, uh -- for the first time -- that, uh, uh suspicion of John Mitchell and, uh, Jeb Magruder as ring-leaders in the uh, Watergate break-in were in fact substantiated by, uh, considerable evidence. Uh, the President then, uh, uh, dispatched so and so to do this and that and it"-- maybe to see Mitchell or, or something of that kind and, uh, uh --" these efforts, uh, resulted in Mitchell going to the U.S. Attorney's office on Monday morning at nine o'clock, uh, asking to, uh, testify before the Grand Jury. Uh, uh, charges of cover-up, uh, by the White House were, uh, uh, materially dispelled by the diligent efforts of the President and his aides in, uh, moving on evidence which came to their hands in the, in the closing days of the previous week." Ah --
PRESIDENT: I, I'd buy that.
PRESIDENT: You want to -- so, we get down to the tactics.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, I've been concerned because since the end of March, I have turned up a fair amount of hearsay evidence that, that points at this guy. Now, just take --
PRESIDENT: And so did Dean...
EHRLICHMAN: And, and so did John.
PRESIDENT: ...so did Dean.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, taking this --
PRESIDENT: Yet we've tried, very honestly, we've tried to, tried to look at it the best way we could. Maybe he couldn't, maybe he really didn't know.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, it's hearsay. And so, he...
PRESIDENT: That point.
EHRLICHMAN: ...don't hang a guy, you don't hang a guy necessarily --
PRESIDENT: And also, we are going to remember, Mitchell has denied it.
EHRLICHMAN: But I was, I st-, stood over there in Bob's office and listened to that tape of one of the co-actors saying, flat out on the tape, that he-was guilty and that Mitchell was gonna, was going to fall and all that and I said to...
PRESIDENT: Did he say that? Did he say that?
PRESIDENT: Well, we can't --
EHRLICHMAN: ...and, and I said to myself, "My God! I'm a, you know, I mean, I'm a United States citizen. I'm standing here listening to this, what is my duty?"
PRESIDENT: Well the point is you've now told me. That's the problem.
EHRLICHMAN: That's correct, that's correct.
PRESIDENT: You see, the differ, uh, uh, the uh, the problem of my position up to this time has been, quite frankly, nobody ever told me a God-damn thing...
EHRLICHMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: ...that Mitchell was guilty.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: I mean, uh --
HALDEMAN: Well, we still don't know.
PRESIDENT I, I...
HALDEMAN: I don't...
PRESIDENT: must say --
HALDEMAN: I, I will still argue that I think the scenario that was spilled, uh, spin, spun out, that Dean spun out to Mitchell is basically the right one.
HALDEMAN: I, I will still argue that I think the scenario that was spilled, uh, spin, spun out, that Dean spun out to Mitchell is basically the right one.
HALDEMAN: ...I don't think Mitchell did order the Watergate bugging and I don't think he was specifically aware of the Watergate bugging at the time it was instituted
PRESIDENT: Well, let me --
HALDEMAN: I honestly don't.
PRESIDENT: That may be. Now...
HALDEMAN: I think that Mitchell...
PRESIDENT: ...here's what he told...
HALDEMAN: ...he had okayed that, but, uh, (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: ...for your, for your information here's what he told Rebozo. He knows very well.
PRESIDENT: That's why I asked, does it have to be a lawyer...
PRESIDENT: ... to tell Mitchell.
HALDEMAN: Jeez, I wouldn't get Bebe into this.
PRESIDENT: I know.
PRESIDENT: Well, anyway, let me tell you what he told Rebozo, uh, right afterwards -- no, no, er a month ago --he said, he said -- you know (unintelligible) you know how he puffs on his pipe -- "In the ITT thing, I may have perjured myself but I sure didn't on this God-damn thing."
PRESIDENT: There you are.
HALDEMAN: Okay. I still think that technically that may be correct.
EHRLICHMAN: I think so -- 'cause that's what he told Moore. And he believes that.
PRESIDENT: What did he say? Could he tell Moore?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, remember, I, he, I asked Moore to find out what Mitchell had testified to.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Oh, yeah. That's right. And Moore heard the testimony and said well you're not --
EHRLICHMAN: He, he was never asked the right questions. Now, uh, uh, as far as he's concerned...
HALDEMAN: He probably didn't in the Grand Jury either.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right. As far as the quality of the evidence is concerned --
PRESIDENT: May I just, uh, digress for one point, that has nothing to do with this except that you've got to fight what's going on damn soon. It is essential that, uh, Roger's departure be delayed until this is over. Now, the hell with Henry on this. The point is, any member of the cabinet, except Kleindienst, leaving during this -- there's no way that Dick is gonna leave anyway -- and, uh, now you gotta talk to Hen-, you gotta just "And Henry it's not appealable.'" You just gotta say that, Henry, there are bigger things here." With Rogers --
EHRLICHMAN: There's just gonna leave --
PRESIDENT: You're just gonna say -- alright fine, then drop that and just say Rogers is gonna stay 'til this thing's over. Right John, you agree?
PRESIDENT: Ya see, Rogers is gonna leave on the first of June, and, uh, but, uh, uh, he must --
EHRLICHMAN: We may be, we may be out of the woods by...
PRESIDENT: May be...
EHRLICHMAN: ...it might be over by then.
PRESIDENT: ...out of the woods? No.
HALDEMAN: I don't know.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, uh, to go back to...
PRESIDENT: Alright. We won't --
EHRLICHMAN: ...the quality of the evidence --
PRESIDENT: ...I only mentioned Bebe because (unintelligible) let me -- let's get -- go ahead with your --
EHRLICHMAN: Well, all I was going to say is that --
PRESIDENT: Alright. I now have evidence, I am convinced...
EHRLICHMAN: But you, you don't have evidence if, uh, uh, if I --
PRESIDENT: I'm not convinced he's guilty...
EHRLICHMAN: That's it.
PRESIDENT: ...but I am convinced that he ought to go before a Grand Jury.
EHRLICHMAN: Exactly. Uh, and, and, and it -- what I did last night, or this morning, was to write out what would, uh, would in effect be a report to you...
EHRLICHMAN: ...of, of this, of this...
PRESIDENT: Let me ask you wheter --
EHRLICHMAN: ...(unintelligible) deliver it to you.
PRESIDENT: John -- (pause) Go see Mitchell.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, all I know about my relationship with Mitchell from his side is what others tell me. He has never, he's never, uh, never (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: The Mitchell problem, the Mitchell problem with Rogers has been totally created.
EHRLICHMAN: I see.
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