Texas Two-Step: Nixon nominates Connally as VP in 1973

And now we know why the VP recommended this lawyer in particular, and why it was "lucky" he would not be nixons personal lawyer
See, this was one of the things where real life set a precedent. Nixon, like Trump, did not enjoy any talk about his personal finances at all, and went to great lengths to conceal how much help he got from friends and the government. Some of the government-paid improvements to his properties were legit (he is the President, and they'd do the same if he rented a condo for two weeks every year to put in security measures, phone lines, etc.), others not so much. Because of this, and because he felt that Watergate was a defense of legitimate presidential power, he put James St. Clair on the government payroll for what, in today's dollars, would be the 2019 equivalent of $216,595. With both Buzhardt and Jaworski, I've introduced a fun little part of the U.S. Code--government lawyers do not have attorney-client privilege, because they represent the government, which is a more amorphous concept than direct representation of a client. This created no small amount of headaches for Bill Clinton during the Starr investigation, because the lines often crossed, so there'd be meetings where Clinton's private lawyers (Bob Barnett and David Kendall) would meet with the White House counsel's office, and then there'd be other meetings on a very similar topic where the counsel (such as Lloyd Cutler, Abner Mikva, etc.) would have to excuse themselves, because Ken Starr could call them to testify about the meeting and they'd have to answer.

In this scenario, Nixon didn't have a personal lawyer working for him. Herb Kalmbach was headed to jail, Buzhardt was trying to survive his heart attack, Len Garment is White House counsel and has avoided Watergate so he doesn't get dragged in, and now Jaworski has quit. Just as a short preview, Rodino's response to Jaworski quitting will be to tell Nixon tough cookies (perceiving, wrongly, that this is another stall by Nixon). Things will get right interesting from there. Stay tuned.

And yes, Connally was a sharp, sharp lawyer. He knew all this, and he wasn't ready for Leon to jump ship yet, but since it happened, he's rolling with the punches because he sees the opportunity it opens up for him. The President's lawyer tells all, part 2, including knowledge of a confession! I'm gonna have fun with that chapter.
 
@wolverinethad, my maternal grandparents lived in Sinking Spring, Ohio, IIRC; my grandfather, as a matter of fact, drove through Xenia 30 minutes before the tornado hit Xenia IOTL...

Mom lived in Kentucky at the time, IIRC...

In fact, I used to have a book called F5, which was written by Mark Levine, which is about the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974 and focuses on the Limestone County tornadoes (and other tornadoes are mentioned); it's a fascinating book...
 
@wolverinethad, my maternal grandparents lived in Sinking Spring, Ohio, IIRC; my grandfather, as a matter of fact, drove through Xenia 30 minutes before the tornado hit Xenia IOTL...

Mom lived in Kentucky at the time, IIRC...

In fact, I used to have a book called F5, which was written by Mark Levine, which is about the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974 and focuses on the Limestone County tornadoes (and other tornadoes are mentioned); it's a fascinating book...
Tornadoes are one of my few major fears...I had a close call with one in high school and have never forgotten that.
 
March 28, 1974 (part 2)
Haig had decided to not say anything to Ziegler, because if he knew, there wouldn’t be any hope of walking it back. Haig also hoped in the back of his head that if nothing were said, maybe, just maybe, Connally could talk Jaworski into coming back. The letter, though, kept rattling around in his brain as he relayed all the facts about the tornado outbreak to Ziegler. Soon thereafter, chief speechwriter Ray Price was called in to draft a statement for the President, who would be flying to several states the next day to view damage and console people. The big secret of the Nixon White House was that he was absolutely terrible at human interaction—it was why every one of them was planned and screened in advance. The only truly unscripted and unscreened moment of his presidency was eight days after announcing the Cambodia bombing in 1970. The President had been up all night, keyed up over the protests, the Kent State shooting, and the mass of students that had descended upon the nation’s capital once more. Like a moth to flame, the presence of the students protesting at the Lincoln Memorial, peacefully, drew a sleepless, exhausted leader in. He asked his valet, Manolo Sanchez, if he’d ever seen the Lincoln Memorial. Sanchez said no, so the President told him to get dressed, and at 4:15 am, the leader of the free world and a retinue of perplexed Secret Service agents descended upon the thousands of students sleeping around the Great Emancipator. The students thought they must’ve tripped a little too hard the night before, while the President first recounted his press conference from the day before, and then awkwardly segued into asking what schools they were from, talking football and surfing.

By the time the sun started coming up over the Chesapeake Bay, the President decided it was time to move along, and he had taken Sanchez to the Capitol Building. Nixon walked right into the House chamber, strode to his old desk, and sat down, telling Sanchez to go to the podium and pretend he was the President. That was the scene when Bob Haldeman, having been woken by an urgent call, walked into the chamber and found the two in there, Nixon applauding his valet like he’d just given a noteworthy performance of King Lear. Since that morning, for four years now, the President had been studiously scripted, holding little 3x5 notecards to help him remember people and things about them. Nothing was left to chance when it could be planned, but a trip like this was going to be hard to choreograph. It’s hard to filter people in towns that had been demolished, or to keep the President from reacting in anything but a human way when confronted with the most destructive weather event in American history.

The speech, followed by a tightly regulated press conference, would take place at seven that evening, allowing for the national news broadcasts to lead into it and once again giving Nixon a chance to look presidential. Ray Price, a wordsmith of great renown, crafted another very good speech for a President who wasn’t great at delivering them—his talent was generally considered to be wasted on Richard Nixon. The three networks did their part, covering the disaster and pivoting to informing viewers after the stories ran that the President would be live on immediately after this broadcast, so please stay tuned. When 7:00 pm came, Richard Nixon took the long walk down the hallway to the East Room, took the podium, and began to speak.

My fellow Americans, tonight I come to you on the heels of a great tragedy. Yesterday, a catastrophic weather event took place over a multitude of states, spawning numerous tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that caused terrible damage to cities, towns, and farms. We mourn every one of the approximately 350 lives taken by these storms, and we share the pain of those that were injured or lost loved ones in them. I have spoken with the leadership in Congress, and we are all in agreement that these Americans must be helped. Estimates are that over six hundred million dollars in damage has been suffered, and entire towns, from Xenia, Ohio to Tanner, Alabama, have been wiped from the Earth. There is no point in being a great nation if we do not work to help our fellow citizens in their hour of need, and so tomorrow, both houses of Congress will vote on the Federal Emergency Funding Act, so that we may begin the work of helping those who survived to rebuild their homes and their lives. In the meantime, we urge you to help the Red Cross as they work to meet the immediate needs of those who survived the tragic events of yesterday. Furthermore, I plan to ask Congress in the coming weeks for funding to establish a more robust early-warning system for smaller communities across the nation. Tanner and Xenia both lacked the equipment to give proper warning to citizens before these tornadoes struck. In an era of nuclear weapons and these serious weather events, we must have a populace that is properly warned in sufficient time so they may take all necessary precautions to survive such a situation. Tomorrow, I will fly to visit a number of these stricken communities and show them that the government of the United States stands behind them, ready to assist in all their needs. Tonight, I ask all of you to pray for these people, that they have the strength to carry on in the days ahead. I thank you for your time, and now I will take some questions.”

Despite CBS’ Dan Rather’s hand being first up, Nixon ignored him, his distaste for the smooth baritone Texan evident, and chose Jules Witcover from the Washington Post instead. “Mr. President, are you using this time to reconsider your position on the subpoenas from the House Judiciary committee?” “That’s not what I’m here to discuss tonight, and I’m sure the people across the country without homes right now could care less about Watergate. Next question,” Nixon said, jutting his finger at R.W. “Johnny” Apple from the New York Times. Apple always played ball. “Mr. President, there have been reports that Secretary Kissinger is close to a peace agreement between President Sadat and Prime Minister Meir. Are they true, and if so, will you be participating in any signing ceremony?” “Well, I cannot comment on negotiations in detail, because this is an extraordinarily delicate situation. These two nations, Egypt and Israel, have been to war four times in less than thirty years, and if Secretary Kissinger can bring peace to these two nations, it will be a momentous accomplishment. I do not want to prematurely celebrate anything, but yes, if there is a peace agreement, or if I can help the negotiations in any way, I would be pleased to travel to the Middle East,” the President replied. “Tom,” he said, pointing at NBC’s Tom Brokaw. “Mr. President,” Brokaw asked in that deep, rumbly voice already famous to the country, “do you think it would be inappropriate for you to travel anywhere to represent the country when you are facing an impeachment vote?” Despite the TV makeup and low resolution of the cameras, Nixon’s face turned noticeably redder. “Mr. Brokaw, let me tell you something. Until the day that the Senate convicts me of any impeachment charge, I am the President of the United States, and as President, there is nobody else who should represent our nation besides myself and Secretary Kissinger. While the Secretary of State is an able man, there are occasions where the President is the only person who can properly represent this nation, and by God, I will do it until the day I leave this office in 1977.” Brokaw shot back, “Do you honestly believe you’re going to serve your full term?” Nixon, to the shock of everyone, shot out from behind the podium and took two steps towards Brokaw. Wielding a microphone in his right hand and his left index finger jutting straight out, his voice projecting the barely contained fury of a man pushed to his limit, Richard Nixon uttered words that would be long remembered after he left office. “I will not leave this office until my term is up or they wheel me out in a coffin, you understand me?” He thrust the microphone at Ziegler and stormed out of the East Room.

Commentators struggled to find polite terms to describe what they had witnessed. Television had not yet become the argumentative wasteland that the future 1990s would see. Outside of William F. Buckley’s arguments with Gore Vidal during the 1968 election season, politesse was the order of the medium. Because of this, the language used by people such as David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, and Frank Reynolds was guarded, but once you broke the code, you understood how abnormal the situation was. Cronkite, the voice of Middle America, pushed the furthest into the boundaries of television news. “What we’ve witnessed tonight is clearly a President that is struggling with the burden of an impeachment vote pending and the myriad challenges of his office. Mr. Nixon was displeased with the question from NBC’s correspondent and made that very clear. Ron Ziegler, the President’s press secretary, had instructed the reporters tonight to steer clear of Watergate questions, given the tragedy that took place yesterday across the heartland of the country, but the beauty of a free press in America is the freedom to ask those questions even when those in power don’t want to hear them. You can see how the President felt about that, and I’m sure that the Judiciary Committee members in the House were also watching. Many people in Washington will be watching to see how those folks react to tonight’s events.”

While Cronkite was pontificating, Rather was quietly pulled aside out of the East Room by Julian Reed, John Connally’s longtime communications aide. Reed toid Rather to leave the White House as inconspicuously as possible and walk over to the Willard Hotel’s bar. He’d learn more then. Just yourself, Reed instructed, no camera crew. Rather grabbed a notepad and pen off the stationery table, tucked them inside his suit jacket, and headed out of the grounds. The Willard was a natural choice, because not only had Connally made it his home for his first month in D.C., but it was east of the White House, exactly where reporters were steered out if they didn’t return to the press room in the West Wing. Rather made his way into the Willard, walking into the bar area. A Secret Service agent spied him, and guided him back into and then across the lobby, around a corner, to a table where the Vice President sat. Two other agents sat nearby, holding newspapers that a casual person would think were being read, while they watched the area like a hawk. The third agent took a seat at a table in front of the Vice President, and no windows were behind him. Clever, Rather thought. These guys know their business.

“Hello, Dan,” Connally said, standing up and shaking his hand. The two knew each other going back over ten years, two Texas boys made good. “Have a drink. I’ve got some Wild Turkey here.” Rather accepted the offer and sat down across from the man likely to be President before the year was out. “Sir, I have to ask why we’re meeting here.,” Rather said. “Hell, Dan, just call me John, alright? Two Texas boys having a drink. What did you think of our President’s performance tonight? Wasn’t it something else?” Connally winked at Rather. “Well, si—John, I think he’s a little unbalanced now. Did he get any sleep last night?” asked Rather. “Oh, he bedded down around four, woke up at eleven. He didn’t lose it because he lacked sleep, Dan. There’s something else he’s lost that’s the real issue,” replied the Vice President. Really now? What’s that? His marbles? Rather kept a poker face, honed over many late nights in Houston during his time there reporting. “Dan, I’m giving you a bit of an exclusive here, but the rules, of course, are that you cannot disclose your source here. Things are delicate at the moment, and are likely to get more so soon. Leon’s quit.” Rather almost lost the poker face at the last two words. “Are you serious, John?”

“Yeah, Dan, he quit last night. Dick said or did something and it was too much, I guess. Wrote a letter chewing the President out, dropped it on his desk while Dick was getting updates on the tornadoes. I talked to him earlier, asked if he’d come back, and he said no, he was done. Haig wants to try and convince him back, Dick is screaming about betrayal. He’s done a good job overall sticking to work lately since he told Congress to shove their subpoena up their ass, except for when it comes to the tapes. Just the very mention of them sends him flying off the handle again. You saw what happened earlier. The man’s losing his nerve. I suspect he’s going to be leaving sooner than he thinks. I don’t see how any man or woman in Congress can look at that tantrum and vote no on impeachment. It’s a damn shame, he really is a good man deep down, he just don’t know how to deal with things in a healthy manner.” Rather was furiously taking notes. “Okay, so what are you looking for?” “Dan, I think you should take this story and make sure it’s on the morning news. That’s all. The people need to know these things. One more thing, and this is just for the sake of demonstrating how serious this is: Jaworski made allusions to the President having broken the law. His own lawyer. You can’t use this part from me, you’ll have to get someone else to be your source on that, but Leon told him that they have two different views of the law, and that the President has gone between technical compliance of the law to outright evading and breaking it. Leon said he couldn’t serve a man who would behave in that fashion, and so he was resigning.”

Connally tossed off his drink and stood up. “Dan, a pleasure to see you again. I hope you find that second source. In fact, if you go sniff around Dupont Circle, you might find Leon.” The Vice President walked out of the Willard. Rather sat there staring at the rest of his bourbon, then saw there was some left in the decanter on the table. He poured the rest of it out, and took a long drink. This is probably the first vice-president since Aaron Burr trying to shove out the President, except he’s got good cause here. Not like Nixon hasn’t done enough on his own, though, and he probably has no clue John’s pulling his strings. A real master of this game, Rather thought. I’ve never seen Congress act so fast on anything as they have impeachment since John became the VP. I bet he’s talking to friends up on the Hill, too. John Connally, Deus Tex Machina. The CBS reporter laughed so hard at that phrase he spilled a bit of his bourbon.
 
Last edited:
Yeah this remains totally great. I love the detail work and Connolly v. Nixon is straight hilarious.

One minor thing, I’m pretty sure Witcover was at the Post by 1974 after the Times, pre-Star before its lamentable closure.
 
Yeah this remains totally great. I love the detail work and Connolly v. Nixon is straight hilarious.

One minor thing, I’m pretty sure Witcover was at the Post by 1974 after the Times, pre-Star before its lamentable closure.
He was at the Baltimore Sun by '77, after Adam Clymer bolted for the NYT. If you can point me to something definitive, I'll gladly correct it.
 
He was at the Baltimore Sun by '77, after Adam Clymer bolted for the NYT. If you can point me to something definitive, I'll gladly correct it.
Associated Press said:
Germond and Witcover's column, "Politics Today," appeared in about 140 newspapers at its peak. The pair launched the column in 1977 for The Washington Star and moved to The Evening Sun four years later when the Star folded.
I’m super curious about who the Sun had now though, the 77-81 reporter. As for the Post Witcover is there as of March 12, 1974. Thanks Ford Library for backing up my memory lol.

Edit:
The Washington Star needs more love in alternate history, I’d love to do a tiny timeline where the Star beats out the Post.
 
Last edited:
Earlier I posted that I didn't think Nixon would make it past June in this TL. Now I'm thinking he won't make it past March...

Great stuff...love timelines around this period in history.
 
I’m super curious about who the Sun had now though, the 77-81 reporter. As for the Post Witcover is there as of March 12, 1974. Thanks Ford Library for backing up my memory lol.

Edit:
The Washington Star needs more love in alternate history, I’d love to do a tiny timeline where the Star beats out the Post.
See, Witcover wrote when Germond died in 2013 that they both started at the Sun in 1977, and I thought that happened straight from the Times. Great find, will edit.
 
I’m super curious about who the Sun had now though, the 77-81 reporter. As for the Post Witcover is there as of March 12, 1974. Thanks Ford Library for backing up my memory lol.

Edit:
The Washington Star needs more love in alternate history, I’d love to do a tiny timeline where the Star beats out the Post.
As far as the Star goes, it would've had to make the switch to a morning paper in the 1960s, before Bradlee settled in the top chair at the Post and before trends that were killing off the evening paper set in. The Star had quality reporters, always, but they liked their little prestige spot as a killer evening paper instead of moving in and taking mornings when they had the better bench of talent. Because of that, Bradlee was able to move in, make changes, get KG to buy in to those changes, and then the Pentagon Papers and Watergate both happened, and after that, it was too late.

This is a fantastic article on the death of the Star from The New Republic in 1981. https://newrepublic.com/article/114189/death-washington-star-stacks
 
April 5, 1974
Richard Nixon, despite being years removed from practicing the law, took it upon himself to write his own argument to Deputy Attorney General Rex Lee, in thoroughly legal language, that the transcripts should be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee as one collection, instead of the original deal of a piecemeal surrender. Nixon further urged Lee to allow White House Counsel Len Garment to sit in on the redaction briefings, since he couldn’t hide that his lawyer had quit, not after that sonuvabitch Rather went on CBS the day after his press conference and told the world about it. Nixon had fumed to Connally and Ziegler, “Why the hell can’t more Texans be like you, John? Keep quiet, work behind the scenes, not parade in front of cameras all the goddamn time. Lyndon understood that before he became President. Took senators into a cloakroom or office before he got all brash. I know you people love your outsized personalities, but we’ve got that Jordan woman in the House, Rather here on TV, and this Molly Ivins person the Times keeps running. She’s a real bitch, John, just loves sticking it to me like she’s funny.” Since the Attorney General was recused in the case because he’d been in the cabinet prior to Watergate, everything was on Lee’s shoulders. Nixon’s arguments, in a sense, were an acknowledgement of what Jaworski had written a week ago about him in his resignation letter, that his technical adherence to the law was better than the spirit of it. It also didn’t win Nixon any friends in the committee, where the firebrand Democrats were incensed at the one-sided abrogation of the compromise agreement. Peter Rodino reminded them that the Speaker had extended the deadline because of the state of emergency that had been declared across fifteen states in the aftermath of the Super Outbreak, and they were still getting the transcripts, so there was no point in getting riled up because the Speaker outranked them all.

At 9 am sharp on April 5th, Nixon went on live television to announce that he was turning over transcripts of every subpoenaed tape to the Judiciary Committee. Silhouetted by navy blue binders bearing the Presidential seal, he asked for a fair reading of their contents by the committee and by the American people. As he was speaking, a truck pulled up to the Cannon House Office Building, where legal boxes filled with transcripts were unloaded onto dollies and wheeled inside, under the watchful eyes of television cameras, who split-screened the President and the document delivery. There were enough copies for every member of the Committee to each have their own, plus six sets for the staff lawyers.


nixon-evidence.jpg

At left: Nixon delivering his transcripts speech. At right: a Capitol Police officer unloads boxes with transcripts.


John Doar immediately set the staff attorneys to work reading through transcripts—they quickly noticed a phrase that repeated itself throughout the pages. “Expletive deleted.” Hillary Rodham thought to herself, He’s such a phony. He acts like this righteous, moral man and he swears like a sailor in private. He’s so afraid to admit who he really is that he drew even more attention to it with all of these redactions. The redactions of language weren’t what concerned Doar. He was more upset, almost indignant, at the lengthy sections redacted for “classified.” What the hell is this? There’s entire pages redacted here. He threw down the binder he was holding and started looking around for the transcripts closest to the break-in date. Finding June 20, 1972, Doar opened it and started reading. When he saw the name Colson, he slowed down and started to read with a pencil at hand, ready to make notes on his pad. After a couple of minutes, his eyes widened. This is interesting. Very interesting.

PRESIDENT: A lot of people think you oughta wiretap.

COLSON: Well they, I'm, I'm sure most people...

PRESIDENT: Knew why the hell we're doing it, and they probably figure they're doing it to us, which they are.

COLSON: Most people figure that, uh, political parties spy on each other and that's part of the problem. (Unintelligible) spying. I...

PRESIDENT: That's why, uh, that's why, uh, they hired this guy in the first place to sweep the rooms, didn't they?

COLSON: Yes sir. Frankly sir, I haven't got into the, uh, ultimate details that we want to on this. But I assume he was hired to protect their own offices.

PRESIDENT: Well, they better, better have somebody you know, the, uh, uh, Bob gave them 340 on the chopper. (Unintelligible). The chopper had some guy with McGovern, aides that they have are--they hope the committee bugged--I just had Bob pick it up.

COLSON: Yeah.

PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible) good story.

COLSON: (Unintelligible) they've, they've known most of our leads (unintelligible).

PRESIDENT: Was he the guy that bugged the U.S.--(Unintelligible). You've got a [EXPLETIVE DELETED] person over there that's ratting on us. What do you think?

COLSON: I think its undoubtedly, O'Brien's group.

PRESIDENT: Do you?

COLSON: You never know.

PRESIDENT: You say who... I don't know who the hell it would be. Some disgruntled (unintelligible)or somebody planted it.

COLSON: Or it could be his secretary.

PRESIDENT: Well, secretaries do it, not that you pay them any (unintelligible).

COLSON: Sure. There, there's no way you can guard against that kind of thing. The only thing you can do is be...

PRESIDENT: Be sure the White House has told, you know...

COLSON: Well, I think--oh sure, I mean, that's the kind of thing (unintelligible).

PRESIDENT: At least the ones we're going to investigate are. (Unintelligible).

COLSON: Oh yeah (unintelligible).

PRESIDENT: I mean like, ah, the ones we have over there according to (unintelligible) and uh, the Yates girl, Buz Yates, Yates (unintelligible) both worked for Johnson. That's sort of a key that, uh,--Oh, hell, uh...

COLSON: Those, those kind of people, I think you can tell a person from the way...

PRESIDENT: I, I think so, they don't look that--Well...

COLSON: Yeah. I don't quite know if--might be able to do it long enough to (unintelligible).(Tape noise) that's the kind of thing you can never be sure of.

PRESIDENT: On this thing here, I, uh, I've got to, well, it's a dangerous job.

COLSON: Well, Bob is pulling it all together—thus far, I think we've done this, I think, I think we've done the right things to date.

PRESIDENT: I think the real question is whether, uh, we want to (unintelligible) the charge-(tape noise) (unintelligible) to hold up. Basically, they all pretty hard line guys.

COLSON: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT: If we are going to have this funny guy take credit for that

COLSON: You mean the one with the--Hunt?

PRESIDENT: (Unintelligible).

COLSON: Course I, I can't believe he's involved. I think (unintelligible) he's, he's, he's too smart to do it this way, he's just too

damned shrewd (unintelligible/REMOVED) too much sophisticated techniques. You don't have to get into (unintelligible with tape noise) heavy equipment like that, put it in the ceiling, hell of a lot easier way.

PRESIDENT: It doesn't sound like a, a skillful job. (Unintelligible). If we didn't know better, would have thought it was deliberately botched.

Holy crap. He’s admitting it right here. “Some people think you oughta wiretap.” Then Colson says, “I think most people,” and the President straight up just said, “Knew why the hell we’re doing it.” Wiretapping. Most people knew why the hell we were wiretapping. And then “if we didn’t know better, would have thought it was deliberately botched.” What do you mean there, Mr. President? How would you know on June 20 what exactly was going on? And talk about having Hunt take the blame, only to have Colson make up a story on the fly that he can’t believe that he’s involved? Also looks like Nixon had people spying from inside the McGovern campaign, did he? Not surprising, and sounds like at least a couple of them came from LBJ’s time, which probably means Connally recruited them. Unsavory, but not illegal. The rest of it, though, this is basically an admission. He knew it, and probably arranged the “gap” on the Haldeman tape because it was more explicit. What else do we have?

Doar, frantic now, kept digging around in the box. June 23, 1972. This was a thick one. He flipped the binder open, and almost straightaway, there’s a conversation with Haldeman, a long one. Okay, State Department trip, photo op with SecState, flight to Camp David, and…JESUS CHRIST. Everyone’s heads turned towards their boss, who looked up with an embarrassed expression. Doar began making notes, underlining passages, and the other lawyers put down their materials and walked over to him. Oblivious, the special counsel to the committee continued underlining and note-taking. Reading over his shoulder, the lawyers were spellbound.

HALDEMAN: Pat does want to. He doesn't know how to, and he doesn't have, he doesn't have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He'll call Mark Felt in, and the two of them ...and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because...

PRESIDENT: Yeah.

HALDEMAN: he's ambitious

PRESIDENT: Yeah.

HALDEMAN: Ah, he'll call him in and say, "We've got the signal from across the river to, to put the hold on this.” And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that's what it is. This is CIA.

PRESIDENT: But they've traced the money to ‘em.

HALDEMAN: Well they have, they've traced to a name, but they haven't gotten to the guy yet.

PRESIDENT: Would it be somebody here?

HALDEMAN: Ken Dahlberg.

PRESIDENT: Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?

HALDEMAN: He's ah, he gave $25,000 in Minnesota and ah, the check went directly in to this, to this guy Barker.

PRESIDENT: Maybe he's a...bum.

PRESIDENT: He didn't get this from the committee though, from Stans.

HALDEMAN: Yeah. It is. It is. It's directly traceable and there's some more through some Texas people in--that went to the Mexican bank which they can also trace to the Mexican bank ...they'll get their names today. And (pause)

PRESIDENT: Well, I mean, ah, there's no way I'm just thinking if they don't cooperate, what do they say? They they, they were approached by the Cubans. That's what Dahlberg has to say, the Texans too. Is that the-idea?

HALDEMAN: Well, if they will. But then we’re relying on more and more people all the time. That's the problem. And ah, they'll stop if we could, if we take this other step.

PRESIDENT: All right. Fine.

HALDEMAN: and they seem to feel the thing to do is get them to stop?

PRESIDENT: Right, fine.

HALDEMAN: They say the only way to do that is from White House instructions. And it's got to be to Helms and, ah, what's his name? Walters.

PRESIDENT: Walters.

HALDEMAN: And the proposal would be that Ehrlichman (coughs) and I call them in

PRESIDENT: All right, fine.

HALDEMAN: and say, ah...

PRESIDENT: How do you call him in, I mean you just, well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things.

HALDEMAN: That's what Ehrlichman says.

PRESIDENT: Of course, this is a, this is a Hunt, you will--that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and that we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves. Well what the hell, did Mitchell know about this thing to any much of a degree?

HALDEMAN: I think so. I don 't think he knew the details, but I think he knew.

PRESIDENT: He didn't know how it was going to be handled though, with Dahlberg and the Texans and so forth? Well who was the asshole that did? (Unintelligible) Is it Liddy? Is that the fellow? He must be a little nuts.

HALDEMAN: He is.

PRESIDENT: I mean he just isn't well screwed on is he? Isn't that the problem?

HALDEMAN: No, but he was under pressure, apparently, to get more information, and as he got more pressure, he pushed the people harder to move harder on

PRESIDENT: Pressure from Mitchell?

HALDEMAN: Apparently.

PRESIDENT: Oh, Mitchell, Mitchell was at the point that you made on this, that exactly what I need from you is on the--

HALDEMAN: (Unintelligible)

PRESIDENT: All right, fine, I understand it all. We won't second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn't Colson.

HALDEMAN: The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do.

PRESIDENT: Um hum.

HALDEMAN: Ah, to have him take a...

PRESIDENT: Um hum.

HALDEMAN: An interrogation, which he did, and that, the FBI guys working the case had concluded that there were one or two possibilities, one, that this was a White House, they don't think that there is anything at the Election Committee, they think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it, non political,...

PRESIDENT: Uh huh.

HALDEMAN: or it was a...

PRESIDENT: Cuban thing--

HALDEMAN: Cubans and the CIA. And after their interrogation of, of...

PRESIDENT: Colson.

HALDEMAN: Colson, yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it is a CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would...

PRESIDENT: Well, not sure of their analysis, I'm not going to get that involved. I'm (unintelligible).

HALDEMAN: No, sir. We don't want you to.

PRESIDENT: You call them in.

PRESIDENT: Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That's the way they play it and that's the way we are going to play it.

HALDEMAN: O.K. We'll do it.

PRESIDENT: Yeah, when I saw that news summary item, I of course knew it was, a bunch of crap, but I thought, ah, well it's good to have them off on this wild hair thing because when they start bugging us, which they have, we'll know our little boys will riot know how to handle it. I hope they will though. You never know. Maybe, you think about it. Good!


Doar stood up, now cognizant of the fact that he had about a dozen lawyers around him. “Okay, listen up. All of you are to stay put until I’m done talking to the chairman. If anyone needs to use a restroom, you’ll be escorted by a Capitol Police officer. The June 23 transcript is clear proof the President obstructed justice and actively worked to cover up the Watergate break-in once he became aware that John Mitchell knew. While I’m gone, I want you to all read through transcripts within the next couple weeks of June 23. Make notes. Anything, even subtle or uncertain references to knowledge of the break-in or the coverup, write it down, page number and date. This could all move very fast, folks, so get to it.” The attorneys scrambled back to the tables. Doar picked up his binder from June 23 and his notepad, left the room, and informed the guard outside that he needed four officers to secure this room and handle escort duties ASAP. Walking as fast as he could down the hall to Rodino’s office, the special counsel rushed in and blew right past the secretaries through the inner office door, only to come to a complete halt, a look of shock hitting his face.

“Leon, what are you doing here?” Doar asked. Rodino gestured Doar to the other chair. “John, I think you’d better have a seat. Leon, please continue.” Jaworski turned to shake Doar’s hand first before speaking. “What I was saying is that I’m not entirely sure that the President gave over every tape or allowed a complete transcript. A week ago, he was on the verge of barging into the transcription office and ordering everyone to stop. It was all Al Haig and I could do to stop him. Soon thereafter, I saw something that just made me decide I couldn’t do it any longer. I had to quit while I still had my integrity left. I’ve always said everyone deserves a good defense, but…dammit, there’s got to be honesty with your lawyer. If you can’t tell your lawyer the truth, if you have to lie and scheme with everyone around you, then you need someone who can handle that. I’ve represented some smooth liars before, but they were honest with me at least.” Doar turned towards the Houstonian. “Leon, I understand that, but do you have any evidence of this?" “Yes, John, I do. I have me. Subpoena me and I will testify to what I saw and what the President told me,” Jaworski replied. Rodino looked hard at him. “Mr. Jaworski, forgive me, but doesn’t that violate attorney-client privilege?” The lawyer shook his head. “No, Mr. Chairman, I wasn’t hired privately. I was hired as a White House attorney, under government contract. That means privilege does not apply. I imagine the President will fight it, and it’ll probably mean you end up at the Supreme Court, but the law is pretty clear. Government attorneys hold no privilege, because they represent the government, not the official or officials.” Doar nodded. “He’s right, Peter, when I was at Justice, if Bobby had done something illegal and I’d been called to testify, there’d have been no privilege. Same if Jack had done it.” Rodino sat back and lit his pipe. “That’s fine, but it would look awfully unfair to the average citizen, the President’s lawyer tattling on him on national television. I’m not sure that’s worthwhile. I definitely need to air this in closed session with the committee. If they vote to subpoena you, Leon, then we’ll fight that battle. Thanks for coming down. I admire your candor and courage in offering to do this.” Jaworski stood up and shook their hands. “If it takes courage to be honest anymore, we’re all in trouble.” He walked out, closing the door behind him.

Rodino looked at Doar. “John, what had you down here in such a rush?” The special counsel held up the binder. “This did, Peter. The smoking gun is right here. He knew and ordered cover-up activities on June 23rd….” “Holy Mother of God.” “Yeah, Peter, that about covers it. I had about the same reaction. Also, three days before, he had a conversation with Colson that was fairly cryptic, but he said that people expected us to wiretap, and when Colson said that most people, and Nixon cuts him off and says that they knew why the hell they were doing it, because they, the DNC, I mean, did it too. He basically admits it there when you look at the context, and then he talks about Hunt taking the fall for it, and Colson inserts some story about he doesn’t believe Hunt would do such a thing. The whole thing, once you have the context, is sorting out who to blame all while telling each other that it made sense to bug the DNC, because he was convinced they would bug him. He also had spies inside McGovern’s campaign, and sounds like he even bugged a helicopter that McGovern used. I mean, between these two, we’ve got a pretty airtight case for obstruction, especially the June 23rd tape. It’s his transcripts, he can’t deny that he said it. He told Haldeman to have CIA give the FBI an out to quit investigating, because the FBI had already gotten a strong indication that it was ordered directly from the White House and not from the campaign. That is a hell of a motivation to order a cover-up, and Nixon says that Helms owes him, but if he wouldn’t do it, General Walters should, and those two go back twenty years.”

Rodino stood up. “I’m going to call a session for this afternoon. Keep a tight lid on this. We’re going to have a hearing, and you’ll be the witness. Closed session. Some of his defenders might get rough on you, or the entire committee might turn and decide that he isn’t worth the trouble any longer. Either way, I’m ready to impeach him. I think it’s obvious he’s guilty and we have to impeach or there’s no need for the Constitution anymore, because it’ll just be a piece of paper. I’ll see you at one.”
 
Yeah, Nixon is doomed; no ifs, ands, or buts about it...
It's not just the one tape, it's the Colson conversation too, which, in all the Nixon/Watergate books I own, I've never seen referenced, when it sure is damning put in context with the Haldeman tape that comes before it having been obliterated. You have a destroyed tape and then a conversation with a co-conspirator that makes a lot of vague gesturing towards "we did it, how do we cover ourselves for public consumption?" and even saying, in a mildly roundabout way, "well, we expect the Kennedy crowd at the DNC to bug us somehow, so we're gonna do it first." Considering it was in the special counsel file at the Nixon library, I'm shocked it hasn't gotten more attention.
 
It's not just the one tape, it's the Colson conversation too, which, in all the Nixon/Watergate books I own, I've never seen referenced, […] Considering it was in the special counsel file at the Nixon library, I'm shocked it hasn't gotten more attention.
Reading the whole transcript of that is bonkers, presidential libraries are awesome. This is my favourite part though, a great big chunk of removed lines which is just hilarious.

But--this is, this is once when you'd like for people to testify. (Unintelligible/REMOVED).
(Unintelligible/REMOVED). (Unintelligible/REMOVED). (Unintelligible/REMOVED). (Unintelligible/REMOVED).
I don't think you should (unintelligible)... (Unintelligible)
...you’re an inside man.
I shouldn't. I'd love to but...
I'd just stay out of it, uh, all there is to
it.
(Unintelligible). I want (unintelligible).
Oh, should be (unintelligible).
Yeah.
(Unintelligible) could kill him. But I just think, ya know, sometimes the uh, you may have your chance later on. (Unintelligible) how we (tape distortion). The Press (unintelligible) they know goddamn well. (Unintelligible/REMOVED). Well, go right out and answer these questions for now (unintelligible).
 
Top