TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDING OF A MEETING
AMONG THE PRESIDENT, H.R.HALDEMAN,
AND JOHN DEAN, ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1972,
AT 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M.(FIRST INSTALLMENT)
DEAN: Yes sir.
PRESIDENT: Well, you had quite a day today, didn’t you? You got, uh, Watergate,
uh, on the way, huh?
DEAN: Quite a three months.
HALDEMAN: How did it all end up?
DEAN: Uh, I think we can say “Well” at this point. The, uh, the press is playing
it just as we expect.
DEAN: No, not yet; the, the story right now —
PRESIDENT: It’s a big story.
HALDEMAN: Five indicted,
HALDEMAN: Just so they have the fact that one of —
DEAN: plus two White House aides.
HALDEMAN: Plus, plus the White House former guy and all that. That’s good. That,
that takes the edge off whitewash really — which — that was the thing Mitchell
kept saying that…
HALDEMAN: that to those in the country, Liddy and, and, uh, Hunt are big men.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 2
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Yeah. They’re White House aides.
DEAN: That’s right.
HALDEMAN: And maybe that — Yeah, maybe that’s good.
PRESIDENT: How did MacGregor handle himself?
DEAN: I think very well. He had a good statement. Uh, he said that the, uh, the
Grand Jury indictment speaks for itself and that, uh, it’s now time to realize that
some apologies may be due.
HALDEMAN: Fat chance. (Laughs)
DEAN: Yeah (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: We couldn’t do that (unintelligible) just remember all the trouble they
gave us on this. We’ll have a chance to get back at them one day. How are you doing
on your other investigations? Your — How does this (unintelligible)
DEAN: (Unintelligible) end of the, uh —
HALDEMAN: What’s happened on the bug?
PRESIDENT: hard to find — on the what?
HALDEMAN: The bug.
DEAN: The second bug. There was another bug found in the phone of, uh, the first
PRESIDENT: You don’t think it was one left over from the previous job?
DEAN: We’re — Absolutely not.
DEAN: The, Bureau, has, uh, checked and re-checked The man who checked the phone
first said that his first check was thorough and it was there in the instrument
(clear throat) and that indeed it had to be planted after…
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 3
PRESIDENT: What the hell do you think is involved? What’s your guess?
DEAN: I think the DNC planted it, quite clearly.
PRESIDENT: You think they did it?
DEAN: Uh huh.
PRESIDENT: Well, what in the name of Christ did they think that anybody was — They
really want to believe that we planted that?
HALDEMAN: Did they get anything on the fingerprints?
DEAN: No latents at all.
HALDEMAN: There weren’t any?
DEAN: Neither on the telephone or on the, uh, on the bug. The, uh, well, the FBI
has unleashed a full blast investigation over at the DNC starting with O’Brien right
HALDEMAN: (Laughs) Using the same crews now that they have nothing to do in Washington.
DEAN: The same Washington Field Office as well as…
PRESIDENT: What are they doing? Asking them what kind of questions?
DEAN: Anything that they can think of because what happened, O’Brien has charged
the Bureau with failing to, uh, find all the, all the bugs, whenever (unintelligible).
HALDEMAN: Good, that’ll make them mad.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 4
DEAN: So, so, Gray is pissed now and his people are pissed off. So they’re moving
in because their reputation’s on the line. That’s, uh, do you think that’s a good
PRESIDENT: I think that’s a good development because it makes it look so God damned
phony, doesn’t it? The whole —
PRESIDENT: Or am I wrong?
DEAN: No, no sir. It, it —
PRESIDENT: — looks silly.
DEAN: If we can, if we can find that the DNC planted that, the whole story is going
to — the whole — just will reverse.
PRESIDENT: But how will you, how could you possibly find it, though?
DEAN: Well, there’s a way. They’re, they’re trying to ascertain who made the bug.
DEAN: If they — It’s a custom-made product.
DEAN: If they can get back to the man who manufactured it, then they can find out
who he sold it to, and how it came down through the chain.
PRESIDENT: Boy, you know, you never know. When those guys get after it, they can
find it. They —
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 5
DEAN: The resources that have been put against this whole investigation to date
are really incredible. It’s truly a, it’s truly a larger investigation than was
conducted against, uh, the after inquiry of the JFK assassination.
DEAN: And good statistics supporting that Kleindienst is going to have a —
HALDEMAN: Isn’t that ridiculous though?
DEAN: What is?
HALDEMAN: This silly ass damn thing.
HALDEMAN: That kind of resources against —
PRESIDENT: Yeah for Christ’s sake (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: Who the hell cares?
PRESIDENT: Goldwater put it in context, he said “Well, for Christ’s sake, everybody
bugs everybody else._ We know that.
DEAN: That was, that was priceless.
HALDEMAN: Yeah. I bugged —
PRESIDENT: Well, it’s true. It happens to be totally true.
PRESIDENT: We were bugged in ’68 on the plane and bugged in ’62, uh, even running
for Governor. God damnedest thing you ever saw.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 6
DEAN: It was a shame that that evidence of the fact that that happened in ’68 was
never preserved around. I understand that only the former Director had that information.
HALDEMAN: No, that_s not true.
DEAN: There was direct evidence of it?
HALDEMAN: There’s others who have that information.
PRESIDENT: Others know it.
PRESIDENT: DeLoach, right.
HALDEMAN: I’ve got some stuff on it, too, in the bombing halt study. ‘Cause it’s
all — that’s why, the, the stuff I’ve got we don’t —
PRESIDENT: The difficulty with using it, of course, is that it reflects on Johnson.
PRESIDENT: He ordered it. If it weren’t for that, I’d use it. Is there any way we
could use it without reflecting on Johnson? How — Now, could we say, could we say
that the Democratic National Committee did it? No, the FBI did the bugging though.
HALDEMAN: That’s the problem.
DEAN: Is it going to reflect on Johnson or Humphrey?
HALDEMAN: Johnson. Humphrey didn’t do it.
DEAN: Humphrey didn’t do it?
PRESIDENT: Oh, hell no.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 7
HALDEMAN: He was bugging Humphrey, too. (Laughs)
PRESIDENT: Oh, God damn.
PRESIDENT: Well, on the other hand, maybe, uh — I’ll tell you who to call. I want
you to ask Connally. Whatever he thinks, maybe we ought to just, just let that one
fly. I mean, I don’t think he will, I don’t think he will (unintelligible) Johnson.
(Unintelligible) Also it reflects on the Bureau. (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: They, they, they hate to admit that —
HALDEMAN: It’s a rough one on them with, with all this stuff about they don’t do
Congressmen, and all that…
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
HALDEMAN: sort of stuff (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: I —
HALDEMAN: do a presidential (unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth it. Damn it, it isn’t worth — the
hell with it. What is the situation on your, uh, on the, on the little red box?
Did they find what the hell that, that is? Have they found the box yet?
DEAN: Gray has never had access to the box. He is now going to pursue the box. I
spoke with him just, just about, uh, oh, thirty minutes ago and Pat said, “I don’t
know about the box. Uh, don’t know where it is now. We never had an opportunity
before, when it was first, uh, released in the press there was a box, to go in.”
But he decided we have grounds now to go in and find out what it’s all about.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 8
HALDEMAN: The last public story was that she handed over to Edward Bennett Williams.
UNKNOWN: (Clears throat)
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Perhaps the Bureau ought to go over –(NOISE)
HALDEMAN: The Bureau ought to go into Edward Bennett Williams and let’s start questioning
that son-of-a-bitch. Keep him tied up for a couple of weeks.
PRESIDENT: Yeah, I hope they do. They — The Bureau better get over pretty quick
and get that red box. We want it cleared up. (Unintelligible)
DEAN: That’s exactly the way I, I gave it to Gray. I, uh, uh —
PRESIDENT: We want it cleared up. We want to get to the bottom of it. If anybody
is guilty over here we want to know.
HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible) in the news. (Laughs) (Noise)
DEAN: Another interesting thing that’s developed is, regarding the private litigation
we’ve got is, uh, the Stans’ libel action was assigned to Judge Richey.
PRESIDENT: Oh, Christ.
DEAN: Well, now, that’s good and bad. Uh, Judge Richey is not known to be one of
the intellects on the bench. That’s conceded by many that he is uh, uh —
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) in his own stupid way he’s sort of, uh —
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 9
DEAN: Well, he’s been thoroughly candid in his dealing with people about the case.
He’s made several entrees, uh, off the bench, to, to, uh, (1) to Kleindienst; (2)
to, uh, his old friend Roemer McPhee, to keep Roemer abreast of what his thinking
is. He told Roemer he thought that Maury ought to file a libel action.
PRESIDENT: Did he?
DEAN: Uh —
HALDEMAN: Well, can he deal with that case concurrently with the other case?
DEAN: Yeah. The, the fact that the, the civil case came to a halt, that the depositions
were halted and he —
HALDEMAN: — opened his calendar for a few days.
DEAN: Well, it did that, and more than that. He had been talking to Silbert, and
Silbert, uh, the U.S. Attorney down here, the Assistant U.S. Attorney was saying,
“We are going to have a hell of a time drawing these indictments up because of the
fact that these civil depositions keep coming out and the Grand Jury’s got one eye
on this civil case because they don’t want to get themselves caught, uh, coming
out with indictments and the civil case that is looking differently, so —
UNIDENTIFIED: Would you like to take Clark now; sir?
HALDEMAN: MacGregor’s call?
PRESIDENT: Yeah. Go ahead.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 10
DEAN: So, based, based on that, uh, uh, when Silbert had told Richey the, uh —
had a casual encounter — in fact, uh, it was just in the hall — Richey, the next
thing he does is he stops the civil case so Silbert can get the indictment down.
DEAN: So it’s, it’s, uh — he’s got, he’s got the abuse of process suit also. (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Hello. Yes. Yeah. Hello. Well you still alive? Yeah, yeah. Just sitting
here with John Dean and he tells me that, uh, that you, that you’re going to probably
be sued or some damn thing.
HALDEMAN: Oh, God. (Unintelligible)
PRESIDENT: Did you put that last bug in? Yeah. Due to the fact that I (unintelligible).
Yeah. Yeah. Good. Good. (unintelligible) (Pause) Yeah. (Pause) Good. (18 second
pause) Sure. (Pause) Well, I’ll tell you, uh, just don’t let this keep you or your
colleagues from concentrating on the big game. Yeah, that’s right. I mean this,
uh, this, this thing is just, uh, you know, one of those side issues and a month
later everybody looks back and wonders what the hell the shouting was about. Yeah.
Yeah. Okay, well, anyway get a good night’s sleep. And don’t, don’t bug anybody
without asking me. Okay? Yeah. (23 second pause) Thank you. Always. Okay. (1 minute,
32 second pause, noise and unintelligible conversation)
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 11
DEAN: Three months ago I would have had trouble predicting where we’d be today.
I think that I can say that fifty-four days from now that, uh, not a thing will
come crashing down to our, our surprise.
PRESIDENT: Say what?
DEAN: Nothing is going to come crashing down to our surprise, either —
PRESIDENT: Well, the whole thing is a can of worms, as you know. A lot of this stuff
went on. And, uh, and, uh, and the people who worked (unintelligible) awfully embarrassing.
And, uh, and, the, uh, but the, but the way you, you’ve handled it, it seems to
me, has been very skillful, because you — putting your fingers in the dikes every
time that leaks have sprung here and sprung there. (Unintelligible) having people
straighten the (unintelligible). The Grand Jury is dismissed now?
DEAN: That is correct. They’ll, they will have completed and they will let them
go, so there will be no continued investigation prompted by the Grand Jury’s inquiry.
The, uh, GAO report that was referred over to Justice is on a shelf right now because
they have hundreds of violations. They’ve got violations of McGovern’s; they’ve
got violations of Humphrey’s; they’ve got Jackson violations, and several hundred
Congressional violations. They don’t want to start prosecuting one any more than
they want the other. So that’s, uh —
PRESIDENT: They damn well not prosecute us unless they prosecute all the others.
DEAN: That’s right. That’s right. Well, we are really talking about technical violations
that were referred over also.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 12
PRESIDENT: Sure. Sure. What about, uh, uh, watching the McGovern contributors and
all that sort of thing?
DEAN: We’ve got a, we’ve got a hawk’s eye on that.
DEAN: And, uh, uh, he is, he is not in full compliance.
PRESIDENT: He isn’t?
PRESIDENT: Well, now, he has his three hundred committees; have they all reported
yet? Have we — we reported ours.
DEAN: Yes we — Well, we have a couple of delinquent state committees out, uh —
PRESIDENT: Right, but it’s done now.
DEAN: If they —
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) Have the paper committees all reported, the three hundred
or so committees he’s supposed to have.
DEAN: We — no, they have not.
PRESIDENT: Can we say something about that, or have we?
DEAN: Well, one of the things that he has not done, is he has never disclosed the
fact that he’s got some three hundred committees. This has been a Wall Street Journal
piece that picked it up and carried it and, uh —
PRESIDENT: Oh, he has never admitted that publicly?
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 13
DEAN: No, he hasn’t. And it’s quite — it’s a tax sham that he set it up for. And
— It is hard to comprehend why he set up three hundred committees, frankly. Uh,
he doesn’t need that many, he doesn’t have that sort of large contributors, where
they have to disburse small (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: Unless someone’s giving nine hundred thousand dollars.
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Which could be very possible.
HALDEMAN: He may be getting nine hundred thousand dollars from somebody.
PRESIDENT: From two or three people. He may have some big angels. I don’t think
he is getting a hell of a lot of small money. I don’t think so. I don’t believe
this crap. I mean if he — Have you had your Post Office check yet?
HALDEMAN: That John was going to do. I don’t know. (Pause)
PRESIDENT: That’s an interesting thing to check.
PRESIDENT: You know how little those damn things (unintelligible)
DEAN: (unintelligible) right. As I see it, now, the only problems that, uh, that
we have are, are the human problems and we’ll keep a close eye on that.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 14
HALDEMAN: People–Human frailties, where people fall apart.
DEAN: Human frailties – people getting annoyed and some finger-pointing and false
accusations, and any internal dissension of that nature.
PRESIDENT: You mean on this case?
DEAN: On this case. Uh, there is some bitterness between, for example, the Finance
Committee and the Political Committee. They feel that they’re taking all the heat,
and, and, uh, all the people upstairs are bad people and they’re not being recognized.
DEAN: It is — I mean —
PRESIDENT: They’re all in it together.
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: They should just, uh, just behave and, and, recognize this, this is,
again, this is war. We’re getting a few shots and it’ll be over, and we’ll give
them a few shots and it’ll be over. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to be on the other
side right now. Would you? I wouldn’t want to be in Edward Bennet Williams’, Williams’
position after this election.
DEAN: No. No.
PRESIDENT: None of these bastards —
DEAN: He, uh, he’s done some rather unethical things that have come to light already,
which in — again, Richey has brought to our attention.
DEAN: He went down —
HALDEMAN: Keep a log on all that.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 15
DEAN: Oh, we are, indeed. Yeah.
HALDEMAN: Because afterwards that’s the guy,
PRESIDENT: We’re going after him.
HALDEMAN: That’s the guy we’ve got to ruin.
DEAN: He had, he had an ex parte —
PRESIDENT: You want to remember, too, he’s an attorney for the Washington Post.
DEAN: I’m well aware of that.
PRESIDENT: I think we are going to fix the son-of-a- bitch. Believe me. We are going
to. We’ve got to, because he’s a bad man.
PRESIDENT: He misbehaved very badly in the Hoffa matter. Our — some pretty bad
conduct, there, too, but go ahead.
DEAN: Well, that’s, uh, along that line, uh, one of the things I’ve tried to do,
is just keep notes on a lot of the people who are emerging as,
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
DEAN: as less than our friends.
DEAN: Because this is going to be over some day and they’re — We shouldn’t forget
the way that some of them (unintelligible) —
PRESIDENT: I want the most, I want the most comprehensive notes on all of those
that have tried to do us in. Because they didn’t have to do it.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 16
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: They didn’t have to do it. I mean, if the thing had been a clo — uh,
they had a very close election everybody on the other side would understand this
game. But now they are doing this quite deliberately and they are asking for it
and they are going to get it. And this, this — We, we have not used the power in
this first four years, as you know.
DEAN: That’s true.
PRESIDENT: We have never used it. We haven’t used the Bureau and we haven’t used
the Justice Department, but things are going to change now. And they’re going to
change, and, and they’re going to get it right —
DEAN: That’s an exciting prospect.
PRESIDENT: It’s got to be done. It’s the only thing to do.
HALDEMAN: We’ve got to.
PRESIDENT: Oh, oh, well, we’ve just been, we’ve been just God damn fools. For us
to come into this election campaign and not do anything with regard to the Democratic
Senators who are running, and so forth. They’re, they’re crooks, they’ve been stealing,
they’ve been taking (unintelligible). That’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.
It’s not going, going to be that way any more, and, uh —
HALDEMAN: Really, it’s ironic, you know, because we’ve gone to such extremes to
do every — You know, you, you and your damn regulations with —
HALDEMAN: Everybody worries about,
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 17
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
HALDEMAN: not picking up a hotel bill or anything.
DEAN: Well, I think, we can, I think, I think we can be proud of the White House
staff. It really has…
PRESIDENT: That_s right.
DEAN: had no problems of that —
PRESIDENT: Well, that’s right.
DEAN: And they’re looking, this GAO audit that’s going on right now, uh, I think
that they have got some suspicion, uh, in even a cursory investigation, which is
not going to discover anything, that they’re going to find something here. I learned
today incidentally, that, that, uh, I haven’t confirmed this because it’s — came
from the GO, GAO auditor, investigator who’s down here, that he is down here at
the Speaker of the House’s request, which surprised me.
HALDEMAN: Well, God damn the Speaker of the House. Maybe we better put a little
heat on him.
PRESIDENT: I think so too.
HALDEMAN: Because he’s got a lot worse problems than he’s going to find down here.
DEAN: That’s right. (Pause)
HALDEMAN: That’s the kind of thing —
PRESIDENT: I know, let the police department go.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 18
HALDEMAN: That’s the kind of thing that, you know, you — What we really ought to
do is call the Speaker and say, “I regret to see you ordering GAO down here because
of what it’s going to cause us to require to do to you.”
PRESIDENT: Why don’t you just have Harlow go see him and tell him that?
HALDEMAN: Because he wouldn’t do it.
HALDEMAN: ‘Cause he wouldn’t do it.
PRESIDENT: Harlow wouldn’t do it, you mean.
HALDEMAN: Harlow would say, _Mr. Speaker –“
DEAN: I, I suppose the other area we are going to see some publicity on in the coming
weeks because, uh. I think after the, now that the indictments are down, there’s
going to be a cresting on that. The whitewash charge of course, but, uh, I think
we can handle that while the civil case is in abeyance. But Patman’s hearings, uh,
his Banking and Currency Committee, and we’ve got to — whether we will be successful
or not in turning that off, I don’t know. We’ve got a plan whereby Rothblatt and
Bittman, who are counsel for the five men who were, or actually a total or seven,
that were indicted today, are going to go up and visit every member and say, “If
you commence hearings you are going to jeopardize the civil rights of these individuals
in the worst way, and they’ll never get a fair trial,” and the like, and try to
talk to members on, on that level. Uh —
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 19
PRESIDENT: Why not ask that they request to be heard by, by the Committee and explain
DEAN: Publicly, they’ve planned that. What they’re going to say is, “If you do commence
with these hearings, we plan to publicly come up and say what you’re doing to the
rights of individuals._ Something to that effect.
PRESIDENT: As a matter of fact they could even make a motion in court to get the
DEAN: That’s another thing we’re doing is to, is
PRESIDENT: Because these hearings —
DEAN: bring an injunctive action against, uh, the appearance, say —
HALDEMAN: Well, going the other way, the dismissal of the, of the, of the indictment
PRESIDENT: How about trying to get the criminal cases, criminal charges dismissed
on the grounds that there, well, you know —
HALDEMAN: The civil rights type stuff.
DEAN: Civil rights — Well that, we’re working again, we’ve got somebody approaching
the ACLU for these guys, and have them go up and exert some pressure because we
just don’t want Stans up there in front of the cameras with Patman and Patman asking
all these questions. It’s just going to be the whole thing, the press going over
and over and over again. Uh, one suggestion was that Connally is, is close to Patman
and probably if anybody could talk turkey to Patman, uh, Connally might be able
to. Now I don’t know if that’s, uh, a good idea or not. I don’t think he — don’t
know if he can. Uh, Jerry Ford is not really taking
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 20
DEAN: (cont.) an active interest in this matter that, that is developing, so Stans
can go see Jerry Ford and try to brief him and explain to him the problems he’s
got. And then the other thing we are going to do is we’re looking at all the campaign
reports of every member of that Committee because we are convinced that none of
them have probably totally complied with the law either. And if they want to get
into it, if they want to play rough, some day we better say, _Well, gentlemen, we
think we ought to call to your attention that you haven’t complied A, B, C, D, E,
and F, and we’re not going to hold that a secret if you start talking campaign violations
PRESIDENT: Uh, what about Ford? Do you think so? Do you think he can do anything
with Patman? Connally can’t be sent up there.
DEAN: I don’t think anybody can do anything with Patman. But if, if Ford can get
the minority members, uh, together on that one, it’s going to be a lot —
PRESIDENT: They’ve got a very weak man in Widnall, unfortunately. Heckler is all
HALDEMAN: Heckler was great.
DEAN: She was great, with, uh —
PRESIDENT: That’s what I understand, but you see, Windnall — let’s take somebody
— Jerry could talk to him. Put it down, uh, Jerry should talk to Windnall and,
uh, just brace him, tell him I thought it was (unintelligible) start behaving. Not
let him be the chairman of the Committee in the House. That’s what you want?
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 21
DEAN: That would be very helpful, to get our minority side at least together on
PRESIDENT: Jerry’s really got to lead on this. He’s got to really lead.
HALDEMAN: Jerry should, damn it. This is exactly the thing he was talking about,
that the reason they are staying in is so that they can
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
HALDEMAN: run investigations.
PRESIDENT: Well, the point is that they ought to raise hell about this, uh, this
— these hearings are jeopardizing the — I don’t know that they’re, that the, the,
the counsel calling on the members of the Committee will do much good. I was, I
— it may be all right but — I was thinking that they really ought to blunderbuss
it in the public arena. It ought to be publicized.
PRESIDENT: That’s what this is, public relations.
DEAN: That’s, that’s all it is, particularly if Patman pulls the strings off, uh
— (Pause) That’s the last forum that, uh, uh, it looks like it could be a problem
where you just have the least control the way it stands right now. Kennedy has also
suggested he may call hearings of his Administrative Practices and Procedure Subcommittee.
Uh, as, as this case has been all along, you can spin out horribles that, uh, you,
you can conceive of, and so we just don’t do that. I stopped doing that about, uh,
two months ago.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 22
DEAN: We just take one at a time and you deal with it based on —
PRESIDENT: And you really can’t just sit and worry yourself —
PRESIDENT: about it all the time, thinking, “The worst may happen,” but it may not.
So you just try to button it up as well as you can and hope for the best. And,
DEAN: Well if Bob —
PRESIDENT: and remember that basically the damn thing is just one of those unfortunate
things and, we’re trying to cut our losses.
DEAN: Well, certainly that’s right and certainly it had no effect on you. That’s
the, the good thing.
HALDEMAN: It really hasn’t.
PRESIDENT: It has or hasn’t?
HALDEMAN: No, it hasn’t. It has been kept away from the White House almost completely
and from the President totally. The only tie to the White House has been the Colson
effort they keep trying to haul in.
DEAN: And now, of course
HALDEMAN: That’s falling apart.
DEAN: The two former White House people, low level, indicted, one consultant and
one member of the Domestic Council staff. That’s not very much of a tie.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 23
PRESIDENT: Well their names have been already mentioned.
DEAN: Oh, they’ve been…
PRESIDENT: Voluminous accounts.
HALDEMAN: And it’s, it’s been discounted —
PRESIDENT: You know, they’ve already been convicted in the press.
PRESIDENT: God damn it, if they’d been communists you’d have the Washington Post
and the New York Times raising hell about their civil rights.
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Or Manson.
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Jesus Christ. If they’d been killers, wouldn’t —
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: Isn’t that true?
DEAN: It’s absolutely true.
PRESIDENT: These poor bastards are — well they’ve been — they’ve got no way they
can ever — In fact, they ought to move the, uh, move the trial away from the —
DEAN: Well, there has been extensive clipping by the counsel in this case, and I’ve
gone through some of these clippings and it’s just phenomenal the, uh…
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 24
DEAN: the amount of coverage this case is getting. They may never get a fair trial,
may never get a fair trial. They may never get a jury that can convict them or pull
it together. And the Post, as you know, has got a, a, a real large team that they’ve
assigned to do nothing but this…
DEAN: this case. Couldn’t believe they put Maury Stans’ story about his libel suit,
which was just playing so heavily on the networks last night, and in the evening
news, they put it way back on about page eight of the Post…
DEAN: and didn’t even cover it as a — in total.
PRESIDENT: I expect that. That’s all right. We’ve (unintelligible)
HALDEMAN: The Post is …
PRESIDENT: The Post has asked — it’s going to have its problems.
DEAN: The networks, the networks are good with Maury coming back three days in a
row and —
PRESIDENT: That’s right. Right. The main thing is the Post is going to have damnable,
damnable problems out of this one. They have a television station.
DEAN: That’s right, they do.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 25
PRESIDENT: And they’re going to have to get it renewed.
HALDEMAN: They’ve got a radio station, too.
PRESIDENT: Does that come up too? The point is, when does it come up?
DEAN: I don’t know. But the practice of non-licensees filing on top of licensees
has certainly gotten more,…
PRESIDENT: That’s right.
DEAN: more active in the, in the area.
PRESIDENT: And it’s going to be God damn active here.
PRESIDENT: Well, the game has to be played awfully rough. I don’t know — Now, you,
you’ll follow through with — who will over there? Who — Timmons, or with Ford,
or — How’s it going to operate?
HALDEMAN: I’ll talk to Bill. I think — Yeah.
DEAN: Dick Cook has been working…
DEAN: on it.
HALDEMAN: Cook is the guy.
DEAN: Dick has been working on it.
PRESIDENT: Maybe Mitchell should —
HALDEMAN: Well, maybe Mitchell ought to — would, could Mitchell do it?
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 26
DEAN: I don’t really think that would be good.
DEAN: I hate to draw him in.
DEAN: I think Maury can talk to Ford if that will do any good, but it won’t have
the same impact, of course, ’cause he’s the one directly involved, but I think Maury
ought to brief Ford at some point on, on exactly what his whole side of the story
HALDEMAN: I’ll talk to Cook.
PRESIDENT: Oh, I — maybe Ehrlichman should talk to him. Ehrlichman understands
the law, and the rest, and should say, “Now God damn it, get the hell over with
HALDEMAN: Is that a good idea? Maybe it is.
PRESIDENT: I think maybe that’s the thing to do (unintelligible). This is, this
is big, big play. I’m getting into this. So that he — he’s got to know that it
comes from the top.
PRESIDENT: That’s what he’s got to know,…
PRESIDENT: and if he (unintelligible) and we’re not going to — I can’t talk to
him myself — and that he’s got to get at this and screw this thing up while he
DEAN: Well, if we let that slide up there with the Patman Committee, it’d be just,
you know, just a tragedy to let Patman have a field day up there.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 27
PRESIDENT: What’s the first move? When does he call his wit — witnesses?
DEAN: Well, he, he has not even gotten the vote of his Committee; he hasn’t convened
his Committee yet on whether he can call hearings. That’s why, come Monday morning,
these attorneys are going to arrive, uh, on the doorstep of the Chairman and try
to tell him what he’s doing if he proceeds. Uh, one of the members, Garry Brown,
uh, wrote Kleindienst a letter saying, “If the Chairman holds Committee hearings
on this, isn’t this going to jeopardize your criminal case?”
PRESIDENT: Brown’s a smart fellow. He’s from, he’s from Michigan…
DEAN: That’s right.
PRESIDENT: and some tie into Ford. He’s very, he’s a very smart fellow. Good.
DEAN: Good lawyer and he’s being helpful. He is anxious to help.
PRESIDENT: Right, just tell him that, tell, tell, tell Ehrlichman to get Brown in
and Ford in and then they can all work out something, but they ought to get off
their asses and push it. No use to let Patman have a free ride here.
DEAN: Well, we can, we can keep them well briefed on moves if they’ll, if they’ll
move when we provide them with the, the strategy. And we will have a raft of depositions
going the other way soon. We, will be hauling the, the O’Briens in and the like,
and uh, on our abuse of process suit.
PRESIDENT: What are you going to ask him? (Unintelligible) questions?
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 28
DEAN: No. This fellow, this fellow Rothblatt, who has started deposing, uh, he’s
quite a character. He’s been getting into the sex life of some of the members of
the DNC and…
PRESIDENT: Why? How can — What’s his justification?
DEAN: Well, he’s working on an entrapment theory that, uh, uh, they were hiding
something or they had secret information, affairs to hide and they, they could,
some way, conspire to bring this thing about themselves. It’s a, it’s a way-out
theory that, uh, no one had (unintelligible)
DEAN: Uh, and he, he had scheduled Patricia Harris and she didn’t show up. She went
to the beauty parlor instead so he went down to the Court House and she had, had
been directed to show up and then the next day the Judge cut all the depositions
off. But he had a host of wild questions, including, you know, where O’Brien got
his compensation when he was Chairman. Not that he knows anything about that, but,
uh, it was just an interesting question he thought he might want to ask the, the
Chairman under oath.
HALDEMAN: That’s — It gives us, the same hunting license that it gave them.
DEAN: Oh, that’s right.
HALDEMAN: So we can play the same game they are playing, but we ought to be able
to do better at it.
PRESIDENT: Well —
HALDEMAN: Are those depositions sealed?
DEAN: That’s right.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:17 P.M. 29
HALDEMAN: They are?
DEAN: But that argues that, uh, they won’t want them unsealed. They’ll want them
unsealed less than we will, and we may be arguing at some point to get them unsealed.
DEAN: I think what’s going to happen on the civil case is the Judge is going to
dismiss the pending complaint down there right now. They will then turn around and
file a new complaint which will be heard, or come back to Richey again. That, uh,
that’ll probably happen the twentieth, twenty-first, twenty-second. Then, twenty
days will run until any answers will have to be filed and these depositions will
be commenced so we’re, what, we’re eating up an awful lot of time–
HALDEMAN: On their side.
DEAN: for those next fifty-four days.
PRESIDENT: Why will they have to dismiss the present —
DEAN: Uh, probably on, on a dual ground, uh, both on the substantive ground that
they haven’t stated a good cause of action — that there is an improper class action
filed and that O’Brien indeed doesn’t represent any class. Uh, and he’ll just dismiss
it on the merits. It’s not a good complaint. He’s already shaved it down to almost
nothing on his original order. They will then have to re-design it into a much narrower
action, but the Judge himself can’t suggest something to counsel. But it’s — you’ve
got a good res judicata argument here. If he dismisses on the merits, uh, that they
can’t file another suit. They’re out of the court totally.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1972 FROM 5:27 TO 6:27 P.M. 30
HALDEMAN: But our suits do still hang?
DEAN: Our suits are still — We have two suits now, we have the abuse of process
HALDEMAN: — the libel —
DEAN: the libel suit.
HALDEMAN: We can take depositions on both of those?
PRESIDENT: Hell yes.
PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) depositions.
DEAN: It’s a, it’s a glimmer down the road anyway, but, uh —