President Richard M. Nixon Watergate tapes, discussions of press coverage and campaign funding (part 3 of 3)

Speaker: Richard M. Nixon
Delivered On: 4/14/1973
Place: Old Executive Office Building, Washington DC
Audio/Video Available:

Description: PARTICIPANTS: President Nixon H.R.Haldeman John D. Ehrlichman Continuation (part 3 of 3) of 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.
1973, FROM 8:55 TO 11:31 A.M.

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Part I
Part II

[Part III]
HALDEMAN: Yeah, and it's a little difficult here be-cause our people are trained to cooperate.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
HALDEMAN: ...when Weicker's office calls.
PRESIDENT: You can say that, you can say Senator, now, uh, uh, we, we, we're not gonna turn this down unless you tell us to. And uh, and we just, just want you to know that uh, that uh, if you want us to go ahead, why we'll arrange for them to do it. But we want you to, for you to be told, uh, you know what I mean.
HALDEMAN: Use the specific call (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Good reason to call him.
HALDEMAN: (Tape noise) North Carolina this week.
PRESIDENT: (Tape noise) we came full circle on the Mit-, on the Mitchell thing.
PRESIDENT: On the Mitchell thing (unintelligible) must come first...
PRESIDENT: ...(tape noise) something today. We've got to make this move today. If it fails, uh, just to get back on position, I think you ought to talk to Magruder.
HALDEMAN: I agree.
PRESIDENT: And you tell Magruder, "Now Jeb, this evidence is coming in, you ought to go into the Grand Jury. Purge yourself if you're perjured, and tell this whole story."
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible, with tape noise)
PRESIDENT: The, we'll go -- Bob, you don't agree with that?
PRESIDENT: Because I think we do have to. Third, we'v` got the problem --
HALDEMAN: Maybe you should talk to Jeb first, though.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) John?
EHRLICHMAN: Doesn't really matter, Bob, eh, either way
EHRLICHMAN: ...who is ever coming first.
PRESIDENT: But then, you see, you see the point is--
HALDEMAN: For God's sake, then don't use Jeb as a basis for the conversation.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Say that the evidence is not Jeb. I'd just simply say that just a lot of other people with (unintelligible) Jeb...
HALDEMAN: ...although (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: ...although he may blow (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: I can say, I can say that the the uh, uh, that I have, I have come to the conclusion that it is both John and Jeb who are liable--
EHRLICHMAN: ...and, uh--
PRESIDENT: But no, I meant...
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, go ahead.
PRESIDENT: I was going to say that we are not talking to you, John, just because Jeb is going to crack...
PRESIDENT: ...or that Dean is going to the Grand Jury. It's past that point. They've got the case made.
HALDEMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: He'll say, "well I think they're bluffing here." What'll you say?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, it isn't a question of bluffing. Uh, nobody's made any representations to us at all. Nobody's tried to bluff us...
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, it, it's just a question of putting together all the facts and that any time someone--if the U.S. Attorney's office goes through the process that "I've gone through, he'll have all the facts. And there it'll be. And ya, you don't get it all from any one person. It's it's some from this one, some from that one. It's a typical, it's a typical case, Bob.
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: How does Dean's, incidentally what is the, what is the, what is the liability or, uh, Hunt, or, uh--I'm thinking of the payoff thing...
PRESIDENT: this business,--somebody in, uh, Dean, Dean, uh, Dean asked, told me about the problem of Hunt's lawyer, uh, wanted--had gotten--this was a few weeks ago--needed, uh, needed sixty thousand or forty thousand dollars or something like that. You remember? He asked me about it and I said I, I don't know where you can get it. I said I would, uh, I mean, I frankly felt he might try to get it but I didn't know where. And then he left it up with Mitchell and Mitchell then said it was taken care of--am I correct? Is my recollection...
EHRLICHMAN: Yes, sir. (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Is that approximately correct?
EHRLICHMAN: Yes, you could (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: Did he talk to you about that?
EHRLICHMAN: He talked to me about it. I said, John, I wouldn't have the vaguest notion where to get it.
EHRLICHMAN: I saw him later in the day. I saw Mitchell later in the day...
EHRLICHMAN: ...Wednesday (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: What happened?
EHRLICHMAN: And he just said it's taken care of.
HALDEMAN: Mitchell raised the topic. He turned to Dean and said, "what have you done about, uh, that other problem?" And Dean said--he kind of looked at us--and then said, "well, uh, you know, I, I don't know." And Mitchell said, "Oh' I guess that's been taken care of. (tape noise) said apparently through LaRue.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: (tape noise) LaRue. Where you the one who told me?
EHRLICHMAN: Who told you?
HALDEMAN: ...Oh, Dean told us. LaRue. He had, Dean had a long talk with LaRue and LaRue said, "this whole thing is ridiculous now" and said (unintelligible, with tape noise) said, "yeah," he said, "If I were in charge of this now what I would do is I'd get a large bus and I'd put the President at the wheel and I'd throw everybody we've got around here in it and I'd drive up to the Senate and I'd have the President open the door and I'd say, you all get out and tell everything you know and I'll be back to pick you up when you're through." He said, "It's all out now and there's nothing we can do about it." And he, he said, "I can," he said, LaRue also said, "you know, I can't figure out how I got into this, uh, to begin with, but I, I, it seems to me all of us have been drawn in here in trying to cover up for John."
PRESIDENT: For Mitchell?
HALDEMAN: Yeah, which is exactly what's happened.
PRESIDENT: LaRue said that?
PRESIDENT: He's right. (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: And if LaRue is called, LaRue is, is--intends to tell the truth about it.
HALDEMAN: Yeah. Now, I--
PRESIDENT: Well, what will be his defense...
HALDEMAN: I don't know.
PRESIDENT: ...about obstruction?
HALDEMAN: I don't know.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't think he-has one.
HALDEMAN: If he doesn't intend--
PRESIDENT: No, well, no. His obstruction will be -- LaRue'll, uh, that I was helping to get --
EHRLICHMAN: Ah, the way Dean talks LaRue wasn't even thinking about the message.
HALDEMAN: I don't think LaRue cares. I think LaRue's figured that the jig is up.
EHRLICHMAN: (Tape noise) I--a bit of incidental intelligence that (unintelligible) dropped yesterday with regard to Mardian. Just a small matter--went out to Phoenix (tape noise).--elaborate cover story, which he fed to the New York Times, which would lay it all back in the White House. (unintelligible with tape noise) Just gonna know that if they do (unintelligible) get screwed.
UNIDENTIFIED: --Yeah, they've gotten to--
EHRLICHMAN: It will only stand so long as Mitchell stands.
PRESIDENT: Why lay it at the White House?
EHRLICHMAN: That's all that--but I just don't know any other fact and, uh--
PRESIDENT: Well, he could lay it to the White House?
EHRLICHMAN: But bear in, bear in mind Shapiro was giving me this in a whole litany of things that were, that were persuasive and which...
PRESIDENT: Yep, yep.
HALDEMAN: I'm still afraid of Shapiro.
EHRLICHMAN: ...what he said to me (unintelligible) he's a scary guy.
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) I don't believe we can--
PRESIDENT: Uh, but what I meant on the Mardian, the point that, uh,--let me say, I don't think that Mardian or LaRue or Mitchell, uh, or Magruder or anybody want to hurt the President in this thing.
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: I'm sure that's right.
PRESIDENT: Do you feel that way?
HALDEMAN: Yes sir.
PRESIDENT: Colson? How, how about Colson?
HALDEMAN: He, he--I (unintelligible) said he'll do everything he can not to hurt the President.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. That has got to be the attitude of everybody because it isn't the man, it's the Goddamn office.
HALDEMAN: Sure. Sure.
PRESIDENT: But also it happens to be tr-, true. I mean I (unintelligible) I knew about the son-of-a-bitch.
HALDEMAN: You don't have a, that doesn't apply and they didn't--I think rationalize to themselves that hurting or getting anybody else could be...
PRESIDENT: That's right.
HALDEMAN: ...good for the President rather than bad. And that...
PRESIDENT: In other words--
HALDEMAN: ...includes Ehrlichman, Haldeman,...
HALDEMAN: ...Dean...
HALDEMAN: ...certainly Colson. Colson'd be at the top of that list. Colson first, then Haldeman, then Dean, then Ehrlichman.
PRESIDENT: You see I think a Mardian story to the Times will be, frankly, that Colson put the heat on.
HALDEMAN: Well, maybe, but he's gonna last. That could be where you--
PRESIDENT: Maybe Haldeman?
HALDEMAN: Mardian. No, Mardian, I don't think has any personal desire to get me. I think he would--I know he hates Colson.
HALDEMAN: They all do. And any Mitchell person does, 'cause Mitchell did.
PRESIDENT: You can make, you see, you can make a hell of a circumstantial case on Colson. He's the guy that, you know, he's Dean's buddy, and uh, Liddy, he knew well, apparently knew well--
HALDEMAN: Wasn't Dean's buddy.
PRESIDENT: I'm sorry--I meant Hunt's buddy.
HALDEMAN: Yeah, right.
PRESIDENT: Of course, right. But you know, but, I mean, Colson is closer to this group of robbers than anybody else. That's the problem with Colson. Colson's got a very--
HALDEMAN: He has no tie to Liddy.
PRESIDENT: Oh, no, no. Okay.
HALDEMAN: You know, that is the (unintelligible) he has no, no string to it. His string is to Hunt.
PRESIDENT: Well, then Hunt--
HALDEMAN: Hunt is the, Hunt is the central, uh, background figure that--
PRESIDENT: Is, uh, Hunt, uh, Hunt takes this money? (Unintelligible) he took it for what? To cover up?
HALDEMAN: Immunity. Bet Bittman's given immunity.
PRESIDENT: They're going to give Hunt immunity?
HALDEMAN: I don't know, maybe, I suppose.
EHRLICHMAN: I think that would be their deal.
PRESIDENT: Well, that's the standard--(Unintelligible) give him immunity for additional crimes?
EHRLICHMAN: He's convicted now, you see, so it would be for additional--
HALDEMAN: They haven't sentenced him.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: So they could give him immunity--
PRESIDENT: ...they could, they could, cut his sentence and give him immunity for the cover-up; the hush money; clemency. How do you handle the problem of clemency, John?
EHRLICHMAN: You'd have to stonewall that--it's, it's, it's--a cold fact, cold denial Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: Well, you don't handle it at all. That's Colson's main point because that's where it comes from.
EHRLICHMAN: That was the line of communication--
PRESIDENT: Colson to Bittman? Well that's the only thing that we have on that, except Mitchell, apparently, had said something about clemency to people.
PRESIDENT: And Mitchell has never, never disc--has he ever discussed clemency with you, Bob?
PRESIDENT: Has he ever discussed it with you?
PRESIDENT: Needless to say, not with me. The only terms (unintelligible) we were all here in the room.
HALDEMAN: I think--
EHRLICHMAN: The only time--
HALDEMAN: ...he may have said, well, you know, we've got to take care of these people, and, uh--
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Well, I understand that. But he's never said, "Look you're gonna get a pardon for these people when this is over." Never used any such language around here, has he, John?
EHRLICHMAN: Not to me.
HALDEMAN: I don't think so.
PRESIDENT: With Dean has he?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I don't know.
HALDEMAN: That's a question (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: 'Cause Dean's never raised it. In fact, Dean told me an interesting thing I said, Dean, I said, "John," I said, uh, "where's it all lead?" He said, "uh." I said "what's it going to cost? Now you could continue this of course." He said about a million dollars. I said facetiously, "Have you thought of this at all?" (Unintelligible) That's the point. That's the foul-up in the whole Mitsel erg-, Mitchell argument. Unless I could just up and say, "100k fellows, it, it's too bad and, and, and I, I, I could, I could give you executive clemency, like tomorrow. What the hell do you think, do you think, Dean, I mean do you think that, that--the point is, Hunt and the Cubans are going to sit on their ass in jail for four years and their families not taken care of? That's the point. Now where the hell to you get the money for that?" That's the reason this whole thing falls. I mean, uh-, uh, it's, it's that, that, I mean, uh, that astonishes me about Mitchell and the rest.
EHRLICHMAN: Improbable.
PRESIDENT: Not only improbable, there's no way to get the money is there? Who was it, Tom Pappas they had to see me?
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) about the money.
HALDEMAN: You didn't talk to him about the money?
PRESIDENT: I don't remember. You told me to see him. In fact, you said that he was helping on the--
HALDEMAN: But, yeah, but you were seeing him and you were seeing a number of contributors.
PRESIDENT: I know, I know and I said hell, I appreciate the work you're doing for us and I didn't mention what it was.
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Good old...
HALDEMAN: He was Mitchell's contact.
PRESIDENT: Good old Tom is raising money apparently, he's doing this, this thing--
HALDEMAN: That's right. I doubt that he is--
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) the word, the word never came up, but, uh, I said I appreciate what you're doing. I do, I do for the purpose of helping the poor bastards through the trial, but you can't after that, John. You can't or could you? I guess you could. Attorneys' fees? Could you, could you get a support program for these people for, for four years?
EHRLICHMAN: I haven't any idea. I have no idea.
PRESIDENT: Well, they've supported other people in jail...
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: ...for years.
EHRLICHMAN: The Berrigans or somebody.
EHRLICHMAN: I say, I don't know how the Berrigan brothers and some of those...
PRESIDENT: They all have funds.
EHRLICHMAN: ...operate. I think those they use--
PRESIDENT: Yes, there are funds, (unintelligible) are developed. I guess that's true.
EHRLICHMAN: So that they--.
PRESIDENT: But not to hush up.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: That's the point. All right. One final thing: Dean. You, you don't think we have to bite it today?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I'm not so sure. Uh, I'd, I'd be inclined--say you are (unintelligible). When you say bite it it's simply a matter of making a decision, in, in my opinion, uh--
PRESIDENT: Well, I've made a decision. I think he has to go.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, I'm not sure that's the right decision. It's uh, uh, uh, by, by framing the issue, I don't mean to imply that...
EHRLICHMAN: ...that's the (unintelligible).
PRESIDENT: I thought, no, no, I thought...
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: When, when you said you didn't address it, I, I'm sorry, I thought that was one of the recommendations you had made.
EHRLICHMAN: No, no, my recommendation is that you recognize that, there's a go-no go decision that has to be...
EHRLICHMAN: ...made right away.
PRESIDENT: Oh, alright, yeah.
EHRLICHMAN: You see, here's your situation as I--Look again--the big picture--You now are possessed of a body of fact.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: And you've got to, you can't just sit here.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: You've got to act on it.
EHRLICHMAN: ...You've got to make some, you got to make some decisions and the Dean thing is one of the decisions that you have to make. Now you may decide--
PRESIDENT: [on telephone] Bull, please. Steve Bull. [To Ehrlichman] (unintelligible) Alright, fine, John.
PRESIDENT: ...Then you're not.
EHRLICHMAN: Then you've got to dispose of it one way or the other. Uh, uh, there may be and, and, I'm, I'm--
(Phone rings)
PRESIDENT: [on telephone] Yeah, put the, uh, that, uh, thing with, uh, uh, Haig, uh, back. What time you got now? Quarter after. I'll be there a few minutes late at the EOB. [Hangs up telephone]
EHRLICHMAN: I'll tell you, I am still heavily persuaded-that we affect the Grand Jury and U.S. Attorney treatment of Dean favorably by keeping him on.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, and that that's important. Now--
PRESIDENT: Why, why, do you say that? Because they like him?
EHRLICHMAN: No, no, not at all.
HALDEMAN: Because they can treat him differently as the President's counsel than--
EHRLICHMAN: As the dismissed President's counsel--
HALDEMAN: Exactly.
EHRLICHMAN: It's just that it's a very heavy psychological factor.
PRESIDENT: Well, this will be done, because there is another reason, too. It isn't like, it--Dean is not like Mitchell, now let's face it.
HALDEMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: Dean is not like Mitchell in the sense that Dean only tried to do what he could to pick up the Goddamn pieces and...
HALDEMAN: Certainly.
PRESIDENT: ...everybody else around here knew it had to be done.
EHRLICHMAN: Certainly.
PRESIDENT: Uh, let's face it. I'm not blaming anybody else now.
HALDEMAN: I understand.
PRESIDENT: That was his job.
HALDEMAN: I understand.
EHRLICHMAN: I have, I have great trouble in (unintelligible) that you could be involved in the light of the known involvement that he had...
PRESIDENT: After the?
EHRLICHMAN: the aftermath.
PRESIDENT: Right, but--
HALDEMAN: The known involvement in the aftermath was for, uh, what was understood here to be the proper (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: That's half--
PRESIDENT: The question is motive.
HALDEMAN: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: That's number one. Number two, there is nothing new about that.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: As I have developed in this thing--I'd like you to read this.
EHRLICHMAN: There were eight or ten people around here who knew about this, knew it was going on.
EHRLICHMAN: Bob knew, I knew, all kinds of people knew.
PRESIDENT: Well, I knew it. I knew it.
EHRLICHMAN: And it was not a question of whether--
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) I knew I must say though, I didn't know it, but I must have assumed it though, but you know, fortunately--and I thank you both for arranging it that way and it does show why the isolation of the President, isn't a bad position to be in.
PRESIDENT: But the first time that I knew that they had to have the money was the time when, uh, Dean told me that they needed forty thousand dollars. I hadn't been rege-, I didn't, I just didn't, I closed my eyes, I couldn't read the Goddamn papers on those little envelopes. I didn't know about the envelopes and the (unintelligible) and all that stuff.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, the, the...
PRESIDENT: But others did know.
EHRLICHMAN: ...the point is that, that if Dean's, if the wrong-doing which justifies Dean's dismissal is his knowledge that that operation was going on...
EHRLICHMAN: ...then you can't stop with him. You've got to go through the whole place wholesale.
PRESIDENT: Fire the whole staff.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right. It's, it's a question of motive. It's a question of role, and I don't think Dean's role in the aftermath, at least from the facts that I know now, achieves a level of wrongdoing that requires that you terminate him.
EHRLICHMAN: ...And, and, that, and this other thing --
PRESIDENT: I think you've made a very powerful point to me that, that -- of course, you can be pragmatic and say, "Well, Christ, in fact Dean" and so forth -- in other words cut your losses and get rid of 'em. I mean, give 'em an hors d'oeuvre and maybe they won't come back for the main course. Go out, John Dean. On the other hand, uh, it is true others did know, they did know.
EHRLICHMAN: But more than that -- we've made Dean a focal point in the Gray process....
EHRLICHMAN: ...And he will become a focal point in the Ervin process.
PRESIDENT: Well, we'll have -- yes, except if --
HALDEMAN: Yeah, if, if goes on.
HALDEMAN: And if you dismiss him he'll still be a focal point.
EHRLICHMAN: He'll be a focal point. (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: He'll be a defrocked -- with a less, with less protection, that's right.
EHRLICHMAN: And with less incentive.
PRESIDENT: Well, the point that I think, I think Dean --
HALDEMAN: That's also one of Dean's problem.
HALDEMAN: What Dean did was all proper...
HALDEMAN: terms of the higher good.
PRESIDENT: Dean--you've gotta have a talked with Dean. I feel that I should not talked to him.
EHRLICHMAN: I have talk to him.
PRESIDENT: But--I mean about motives.
EHRLICHMAN: I have talked to him.
PRESIDENT: What's he say about motives? He says it was hush up?
EHRLICHMAN: No. He says he knew, he, he had to know that people were, uh, trying to bring that result about...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and he says, you know, the way I got into this was I would go to meetings in, in...
EHRLICHMAN: ...campaign headquarters, uh, and, uh, uh, we'd get through the meeting and uh, Mitchell and LaRue would say to, to, uh, uh, I mean Mardian and LaRue would say to Mitchell, "Mitch, you've got to do something about this." And Mitchell's stock answer was to turn to John Dean.
HALDEMAN: Say what are you gonna do?
EHRLICHMAN: "What are you going to do?"
PRESIDENT: Jesus Christ.
EHRLICHMAN: And, uh, so John said, I got to be a kind of, kind of a water carrier. I'd come back from those meetings and I'd come in to see Bob, or me or somebody else...
EHRLICHMAN: ...and say well, Mitchell's got this big problem. And then he'd say they'd say to me, well I don't know what I'll do about it.
PRESIDENT: When he came in to see Bob and you what would he say was the problem?
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, he'd say, these, these guys, uh, uh, Hunt's getting, uh, jittery and, uh, and says that he's got to have umpty-ump thousand dollars, and uh, Mitchell's terribly worried about it, and uh, uh--it, it was never expressed, but it was certainly understood...
PRESIDENT: Okay, on the question of motive then, though, (unintelligible) those conversations to keep up (unintelligible) that motive was never discussed.
EHRLICHMAN: Never discussed with me in those terms.
PRESIDENT: The motive was to help defendants who were, by golly, who had worked for the...
PRESIDENT: ...campaign committee--
EHRLICHMAN: never really got that far because, uh, we uh, at least my, my conversation with John always was, "well, you know that's, that's interesting--I just don't know what to do for you."
PRESIDENT: Yeah. And, he may have gone further with you, Bob Did he?
EHRLICHMAN: He, we referred him to Kalmbach.
HALDEMAN: You aimed him at Kalmbach.
HALDEMAN: I aimed him at Mitchell. I said, "John you can't come here and ask for help, we don't have any."
HALDEMAN: The one thing where it did go further, if you want to argue about it, it was in the sense that th-, the 350...
PRESIDENT: At the end--
HALDEMAN: ...which was not our money, we did move back over there.
PRESIDENT: For this purpose?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) what it was.
HALDEMAN: Yeah, yeah.
PRESIDENT: Who asked for it?
PRESIDENT: I mean, eh, how did, who...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) asked for that.
PRESIDENT: ...who took the move on the 350?
PRESIDENT: How did you know that (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: Gordon Strachan...
PRESIDENT: ...came to you?
HALDEMAN: ...Gordon Strachan came to me after the election and said you have three hundred and fifty thousand...
HALDEMAN: ...dollars in cash...
HALDEMAN: ...What do you want to do with it...
PRESIDENT: ...this was not requested by LaRue?
PRESIDENT: or Gordon?
HALDEMAN: No, the problem was getting them to take it back. They wouldn't take it.
EHRLICHMAN 'Cause they didn't know how to (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: That money...
HALDEMAN: 'Cause LaRue didn't know what to do (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: ...that, that money--
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) let him take it. LaRue wanted it...
HALDEMAN: ...but Mitchell wouldn't let him take it.
EHRLICHMAN: They just didn't know how to account for it.
PRESIDENT: Well, just frankly, he wouldn't have to account for it, in my opinion.
HALDEMAN: Well, but he didn't, he, he was--
PRESIDENT: 1970 money, for Christ's sakes.
HALDEMAN: (Clears throat) He said I have to account for it now because he's--Fred LaRue is in personal receipt after Grand Jury knowledge of three hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars in cash delivered to him at night at his apartment by Gordon Strachan. Key witnesses to that transaction are Strachan and LaRue.
PRESIDENT: LaRue tells you, huh?
HALDEMAN: And Strachan just testified that that's what happened. Well, LaRue's got a problem. What did he do with it? At that point, it's income to him. He's got an IRS problem if he can't get it, get it--it's unaccounted.
PRESIDENT: He'll use it, what, what does he say? He says I used it for hush money?
HALDEMAN: I don't know what he'll say. He'll probably (tape noise) packaged it up--
PRESIDENT: Does that help any? That certainly doesn't help us.
HALDEMAN: Doesn't help anybody, but, uh, but, uh, you know--
PRESIDENT: The other thing he says, "Well I just, I, I've retained it in a fund for future campaigns."
HALDEMAN: No, can't show it, doesn't have it. I'm sure he doesn't have it.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't, I'm not sure either, but I assume that it went right out to, to pay these people, I, uh, that's, that's my assumption.
EHRLICHMAN: Now Dean says this. He says we have only two problems with the aftermath in the White House. One is the fact that we made a referral to Kalmbach, but he said that can be explained. And, that's, that's no major problem. The other is the $350,000 and that can be explained and need not be a major problem if it's clearly explained. And we have no, no problem with the aftermath.
HALDEMAN: I'm running the three-fifty into my statement, but the question of whether we want it in.
PRESIDENT: Oh, yes. Put it in there.
HALDEMAN: Nobody knows about it--that's another bombshell.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) I think it's been, there's been something written about it.
HALDEMAN: Well but, yeah, but not that I had it.
EHRLICHMAN: It is eleven o'clock.
PRESIDENT: All right. Eleven o'clock, that's when the armistice was signed, so off we go.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, Mitchell is roughly two hours away at, at best. I could--
PRESIDENT: I think he's going to come down and do it today. I think--what--Bob, I think you have to go out and call him, now. And, uh, ask him if he can come down.
EHRLICHMAN: We'll send an airplane for him.
HALDEMAN: That'll take longer than his coming (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: And by the time we get a plane mobilized and up there, it takes longer. We'll send it (tape noise) play golf or something.
PRESIDENT: I know, I know. He may be gone. But the point that I make is this, if, if he's out to play golf, we say we have, uh, we, we, have an urgent message for him and we say there've been some (tape noise) there have been some (unintelligible with tape noise) on the Watergate thing.
HALDEMAN: And that hurry and come immediately.
PRESIDENT: (Tape noise) should come down.
EHRLICHMAN: I think Bob's right.
PRESIDENT: Okay. Can you come down? If he says I can't come, then Ehrlichman should go up--
HALDEMAN: Then say to him well, John will come up. Where can you be re--
PRESIDENT: Yes. If he says well I've got a dinner tonight and I've got that, uh, say John.-- I mean this is the thing--John, this is very important. The President considers this of the highest urgency that you be aware of these developments. How's that sound to you?
UNIDENTIFIED: (Unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: Something that just can't be postponed any longer.
PRESIDENT: Can't be postponed and, uh, we, uh, have a problem.
(Walking noise)
Harder than firing Hickel.
EHRLICHMAN: Oh, about the same.
HALDEMAN(?): Yes, sir.
[Haldeman leaves, Ehrlichman dials telephone]
EHRLICHMAN: Call me? Oh, OK. Anything new?...Yeah, I'm...Our last conversation?...Can you give it to me now?. Well, Okay. I, I'll see you in a little while. Alright.
EHRLICHMAN: No, that was Dean.
PRESIDENT: What' d he say?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: I, I think there's, there are other reasons --
ERLICHMAN Well, you can, you can put--
PRESIDENT: He did not cover up, though, that's just what we, that's what (unintelligible) that's what we--
EHRLICHMAN (Unintelligible) to go testify. (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: My point is, my point is that as three of us talked here, I realize, that frankly--in Mitchell's case he's guilty. In Dean's case (tape noise) it's the question. And I do not consider him guilty. Now that's all there is to that.
PRESIDENT: ...Because if he's, if, if that's the case then hell, wouldn't you say, half the staff is guilty.
EHRLICHMAN: That's it. He's, he's guilty of really no more except in degree.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, and uh...
PRESIDENT: Then others.
EHRLICHMAN: ...then, then a lot--
PRESIDENT: And frankly, than I have been since, uh, a week ago--
PRESIDENT: Two weeks ago,
EHRLICHMAN: see, that isn't--that kind of knowledge that we had was not action knowledge, like the kind of knowledge, that I put together last night. I hadn't known really what, what's been bothering me this week...
EHRLICHMAN: ...But what's been bothering me is--
PRESIDENT: That with knowledge, we're still not doing anything.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right. That's exactly right.
PRESIDENT: The law and order--Goddamn it, that's the way I am. I, you know, it is a pain for me to do anything. The Mitchell thing is Goddamn painful.
(Unintelligible with noise)
[Haldeman enters room]
PRESIDENT: Is he coming?
HALDEMAN: Yes, sir.
I said do you want to let us know what you're, what plane you're on so we can pick you up? And he said, no let me (unintelligible) over his, uh--
PRESIDENT: Should you delay your meeting with Magruder until you see him?
EHRLICHMAN: I don't think it really matters. It's just, it comes under this whole heading of having knowledge and having to act on it.
PRESIDENT: Well, my point is that I think that you better see Magruder before you see him. No, no I guess you'll--
EHRLICHMAN: It doesn't matter, in my opinion.
PRESIDENT: You should see Magruder today. That's the main thing.
EHRLICHMAN: I think we ought to make a similar call to Magruder.
HALDEMAN: I think the way to do it then--I should call Jeb...
HALDEMAN: ...and say that things have developed and all this and, and, uh--
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: I didn't say that to Mitchell.
EHRLICHMAN: It doesn't matter.
PRESIDENT: Oh, Mitchell, he knows better. (Tape noise) gotta say that to Jeb.
HALDEMAN: Well, I tell you, when I--the thing is when I say it to Jeb, it'll take probably thirty-seven seconds for him to turn up on your doorstep.
EHRLICHMAN: Well, that's alright.
PRESIDENT: That's alright.
EHRLICHMAN: It won't--
PRESIDENT: I think we should do it before you see Mitchell. Or you, do you feel uncomfortable about telling him?
EHRLICHMAN: No. As I say, I, I think it's almost immaterial as to which I see first. It's the fact of doing it rather than any particular sequence.
HALDEMAN: Mitchell won't be here, he can't be here 'til...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: I think, in my view, in my view, John, you can't wait to act. I think you should see Jeb Magruder and say now, Jeb, you're to testify. (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: I wouldn't quite say it that way. I'll say, I don't know if you know what I've been doing here, the last three weeks. I have been ranging over this whole subject matter trying to bring to the President something more than John Dean has charged.
PRESIDENT: Can you tell him as you talk to him that what he says is attorney-client or no? You can't tell him. Okay.
EHRLICHMAN: I, I, I'll simply say that, as, as you know, Dean did an investigation which determined whether or nor the White House was involved. y responsibility was greater than that. t was to range over the whole thing and try and bring to the President a new (tape noise) of information on what actually happened, (tape noise) uh, uh, version of what transpired. And from what I have been able to put together, I have advised the President and he has--this morning--and he has directed me immediately to contact you (tape noise) uh, uh, having accepted a point of view in all of this (tape noise) people should not disclose what they know, because it somehow serves the President. (Tape noise) apparently, considerable criminal jeopardy. (Tape noise) what to do from your own standpoint. What I want you to have is the message from the President. (Tape noise) in any way view it as serving his interests for you to remain silent. Decide what to do from your own personal standpoint and (unintelligible) any right to interfere in that decision. If there ever was an impediment to your coming forward by reason of your impression of, uh, uh, assumed or otherwise, of what the President wanted you to do I think it's my job...
EHRLICHMAN: impart to you what is actually the case.
PRESIDENT: I would, also, though I'd put a couple of grace notes in and say, Jeb, let me just start here by telling you the President's own great affection for you and for your family--real affection--my mind was thinking last night of his poor little kids in school...
HALDEMAN: Yeah, beautiful kids.
PRESIDENT: ...and his lovely wife and all the rest. And just, just put--it breaks your heart. And say this, this is a very painful message for me--for, for him to--I, I've been asked to give you, but, but, but I must do it and that's that. Let's put it right out that way. And also--I'd just put that in so that he knows that I have personal affection. That's the way to, that's the way the so-called clemency's got to be handled. Do you see, John? -
EHRLICHMAN: I understand.
HALDEMAN: Do the same thing with Mitchell.
PRESIDENT: Yeah--oh, Mitchell? Well, you could say to Mitchell, I think you've got to say...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT:'re got to say that this is the toughest decision he's made. It's tougher than Cambodia, May 8th and December 18th put together. And that he, uh, just can't bring himself to talk to you about it. Just can't do it. And he's directed that I talk to you. Frankly, what I am doing, John, is putting you in the same position as President Eisenhower put me in with Adams (unintelligible) But John Mitchell, let me say, will never go to prison. I agree with that assumption. I think what will happen is that he will put on the Goddamnedest defense that--the point, you have, your suggestion is gonna be he not put on a defense. You're suggesting he go in and say look I am responsible here. I had no knowledge but I am responsible. And uh, I uh, I, and nobody else had, and uh, that's it. I myself. That's it. And I want to plead, uh, this, this has got to stop--innocent people are being smeared in this thing.
EHRLICHMAN: He will understand...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: ...that once you are possessed of a reasonable body of knowledge, (unintelligible) you have an obligation to do something and, rather than simply to turn it over to the U.S. Attorney, the thing that you are doing, in the first instance is giving him an opportunity to come forward.
PRESIDENT: Or, rather than having a special prosecutor, say that he comes a special prosecutor. The President rejects that. Uh, the idea that, uh, we turn it over to the U.S. Attorney, call him in, which I could do, and uh, or call in the Attorney General which I could do, but I think it's--obligations to do, do this becuase I cannot have this. Now, of course, he's going to ask, well, now John what knowledge do you really have except hearsay. Answer.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't have any knowledge except hearsay, John, uh, but--
PRESIDENT: But I do know that Magruder--
EHRLICHMAN: other words, I don't have, I don't have documents and I...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) Events are moving very speedily...
EHRLICHMAN: ...but, but...
PRESIDENT: There is no question about what is going to happen.
EHRLICHMAN: ...there can be--that's right. That's right. Tha-, the-, that--
HALDEMAN: You won't have to appeal to him on that because he's made the point, you know, that if Dean testifies, it's going to unscramble the whole omelet.
PRESIDENT: Well, I'm sorry--I don't want to leave it at the point that Dean's or Magruder's testimony is essential to Mitchell (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: That's right. That's right.
PRESIDENT: You see that's the point of that. On the Dean thing, I, I wouldn't say that the President has stood, frankly, John, on, on the executive privilege thing, (unintelligible) and so forth.
EHRLICHMAN: It, it, it isn't my purpose to prove to your satisfaction your guilt or that you're going to be indicted, but--
HALDEMAN: It's my purpose to say that the President now is in possession--
PRESIDENT: That I believe you should come-- What are you going to suggest that he do, John?
EHRLICHMAN: Well, if he asks me, what do you want me to do? I am going to say I, if, if you would do what I ask you, what I would suggest, you would pick up the phone or you would allow me to pick it up and call Ear1 Silbert and make an appointment today, and go over, and talk with the U.S. Attorney about this case, with counsel.
PRESIDENT: "I'll see the President and tell him you're going to do it."
EHRLICHMAN: Uh, well you're asking me in effect to go down and enter a guilty plea. And I would say, look John, you're the only one who knows the basic (unintelligible) and to decide whether there's any room between what you know and the ultimate action of the jury through which you might pass unpunished. I can't make that judgment for you and I don't have any right to make it for you. All I'm saying is that you're looking at this thing from the standpoint of the Presidency. Today is probably the last day that you can take that action, if you're ever going to take it. Uh, do the President a bit of good.
PRESIDENT: "Do you realize John, uh, that uh, that uh, that uh, uh, uh, (tape noise) on the White House? I mean Colson, maybe Haldeman, are going to get involved in this thing too."
EHRLICHMAN: Well, here again, we're looking at this thinq not from the standpoint of any other individual. We're looking at it from the standpoint of the Presidency and that's the only way I think you and I can approach this.
PRESIDENT: And I'd, I'd go further and say the President has said let the chips fall where they may.
PRESIDENT: We are not gonna cover for anybody. I think you ought to say that.
EHRLICHMAN: That's right.
PRESIDENT: Don't you agree, Bob? That isn't it? We've a--
HALDEMAN: He may go, he may get Chuck. He may get you (unintelligible) to ask him to do (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) on the whole House. Fine. But we on the other hand, have to do something else. Fine. I think he would take the latter. He thinks--
HALDEMAN: He thinks (unintelligible) and that's the thing we've worried about all along, haven't we. That's uh, if somebody gets hit what will we do. But we can't worry about what we will do if he does anything. We'll have to deal with that. It's gonna expire.
EHRLICHMAN: And this is one that will permit him--and it might help the Presidency, rather than damage it.
PRESIDENT: Uh, Bob, do you think there's something to be said for having John wait to talk to Magruder until after he's seen Mitchell? (Tape noise) something. Suppose you get stonewalled with Mitchell.
HALDEMAN: Well, I think John's in a stronger position if he's talked to Magruder than if he hasn't, but I, maybe,
EHRLICHMAN: I tell you, it is not what Mitchell says that matters today. It is the fact that you have acted on information today.
EHRLICHMAN: Now, let's suppose Mitchell turns us down cold, and says I'm going to preserve all my rights. I'm going to make, uh, fight every inch of turf and so on and so forth. Okay. That's that, alright. But at least you, having accumulated all this knowledge this week, have tried to get this thing out, so that sometime two months from now, three months from now, a year from now when there's an accounting, you can say, "On the 14th of April--
PRESIDENT: It's the 13th.
EHRLICHMAN: It's where? Uh, on the 14th day or the 14th?
PRESIDENT: This is the 14th, yeah.
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, we had Friday the 13th yesterday.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) the 13th.
EHRLICHMAN: On, on the 14th...
PRESIDENT: No, seriously (unintelligible) as I have told both of you, the boil had to be pricked. That's-in a very different sense--that's what December 18th was about. We have to prick the Goddamn boil and take the heat. Now that's what we are doing here. We're going to prick this boil and take the heat. Am I, am I overstating?
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: No, I think that's right. And uh, (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: The history of this--
HALDEMAN: ...and this will prick the boil.
HALDEMAN: It may not.
EHRLICHMAN: The history of this thing has to be, though, that you did not tuck this under the rug...
EHRLICHMAN: ...yesterday or today, and hope it would go away. ,
PRESIDENT: Now, uh, let me give the scenario -- uh has Ehrlichman go out and tell people that I have done this.
EHRLICHMAN: I don't know. It depends on how it all turns out. If he does not go to the U.S. Attorney...
EHRLICHMAN: ...if Magruder decides to stay clammed up...
HALDEMAN: Then what' d you do?
EHRLICHMAN: ...then I'd take, uh--
PRESIDENT: Well, let's...
HALDEMAN: Would you do it again?
PRESIDENT: ...let's suppose, let's suppose, let's suppose they still indict. You don't want them to indict and then have to say that on s-, on, on s-, on Saturday, the 14th of April, that you, John Ehrlichman --
HALDEMAN: Yeah, but you see yeah, but you see--
EHRLICHMAN: The problem there is...
HALDEMAN: you support the President --
EHRLICHMAN: ...these things, at least you've got the record --
EHRLICHMAN: The problem is that if you were to go out on this-kind of hearsay and say we know who did it, then you've prejudiced their rights, the, the, uh --
PRESIDENT: Then your, then your thought is to get out beforehand.
EHRLICHMAN: No, no, not at all.
PRESIDENT: Your thought is, just to make a record of the (unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: When somebody comes to uh, uh (unintelligible) indictments, what the hell was the White House doing all this time? Then you're in a position to say well, we began to investigate personally and, and the external circumstances and we came to some conclusions and we acted on those conclusions.
PRESIDENT: John Ehrlichman conducted an investigation for the President.
EHRLICHMAN: And we made un--
PRESIDENT: John Ehrlichman's -- uh, now the 13th of -- uh --
EHRLICHMAN: It may be that what should happen here is that if they both stonewall, I ought to sit down with Silbert and just say now I don't have a lot of evidence....
PRESIDENT: I agree with that. I agree with that.
EHRLICHMAN: ...but I have an accumulation of hearsay
PRESIDENT: And the President wants you to go forward on this.
EHRLICHMAN: ...And I'll turn over to you that...
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
EHRLICHMAN: ...the report that I made for the President, for whatever it's worth. And I want to tell you that I had con-, uh, had contact with two of your targets to make clear to them nobody in the White House wanted them in any way to be reticent. Beyond that, I don't have anything to say to you.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: See what happens.
EHRLICHMAN: Let's, let's see what these guys go. But, uh, uh, I think maybe like tomorrow I ought to see Silbert.
PRESIDENT: I agree. I think the record should be made we have talked to him so that he knows that the President has moved on this (unintelligible).
EHRLICHMAN: And that's, a, that, that, puts a th-, uh, uh--
PRESIDENT: And that we saw the U.S. Attorney and turned over our information to him. All the information we had.
EHRLICHMAN: I would like a record of my conversation with both Magruder and Mitchell. I personally think that maybe I ought to get my office geared up so that I can do that.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) here, or do you remove that equipment?
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) my meetings with Henry, but I don't know.
EHRLICHMAN: I, I think it's better if I do it over there.
PRESIDENT: Why don't you just gear it up and, uh, you can, do you know, do you have a way to gear it up?
EHRLICHMAN: Yeah. I've done it before.
PRESIDENT: Well, go gear it.
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: No, no, no, no, no, Well, wait a minute. No, I think that's too...
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) -
PRESIDENT: ...too little. I would just, I would just have it so that you'll know that, uh -- what we've got here. I don't want to hear the record, let me say. (Unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: Raise a question and I don't know if it's a good idea or not but does it serve any purpose for me to sit in on the meeting?
EHRLICHMAN: I think you should come.
HALDEMAN: That 's, maybe that's...
HALDEMAN:'s -- that would give you a witness, for one thing.. If either of those people were questioned and you (tape noise unintelligible) anybody else in, you've got a problem.
PRESIDENT: And then when Mitchell says, Bob, you know, you were in this, too. What's Bob Haldeman say?
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible) well he won't. He won't.
PRESIDENT: I think Bob should sit in...
EHRLICHMAN: That's good.
PRESIDENT: ...because Haldeman is, uh --
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: No, no. I think so. That gives you the witness. And also...
EHRLICHMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Mitchell feels he's got a friend there. And he knows that you're not just doing this on your own, freewheeling it. Bob says we talked it all over. The President said we can't sit on information that's (unintelligible) of this nature. (Unintelligible) information from the members of the White House staff, it's gonna be exactly the same procedure. I think we ought to move on the Jeb thing, Bob.
HALDEMAN: We'll get him in my office.
PRESIDENT: Of course, and give your report to me on, uh, as soon as you finish your conversation with Jeb...
PRESIDENT: ...I'll be (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Incidentally --
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