Watergate Scandal

Selected Tape Transcripts

21 June, 1972, 9.30-10.38am, Oval Office, Nixon, Haldeman and Coulsen

Nixon: What’s the dope on the =Watergate incident? Anything break on that?

Haldeman: No. We talked about that. We don’t talk about it at the staff meeting. It’s very interesting because I’ve been prepared to =cold-cock it if it comes up at the staff meeting and it hasn’t even come up. You know, somebody made some crack about it or something, but it didn’t come up. Nobody wanted to discuss it. But I talked with =Mitchell afterwards.

Nixon: =Mitchell was at the staff meeting?

Haldeman: Yes.

Nixon: Good, good.

Haldeman: Yes. Doesn’t say much. Well, but he does once in a while and he raises some good questions, more asking than telling. But it’s very useful to have =Mitchell there.

Nixon: Yes.

Haldeman: There’s nothing new. The whole question now is, =Mitchell’s concern is the =FBI, the question of how far they’re going in the process. He’s concerned that, that be turned off, and then they’re working on =John.

Nixon: My =God, =Ehrlichman, are you talking, it’s got to be done by =Ehrlichman.

Haldeman: Well, we were told yesterday in the discussion on this that we should not go direct to the =FBI. =Mitchell said today that we’ve got to, and he asked =Ehrlichman to talk to =Gray. =John’s doing it. The question that =John and I raised, both of us have been trying to think with a one step away from it and look at a strategy on creating see whether there’s something that we can do other than just sitting here and watching it drop on us bit by bit as it goes along. And there is it’s pretty tough to

Nixon: Think of anything.

Haldeman: start maybe now. =John laid out a scenario, which would involve this guy =Liddy at the committee confessing and taking, moving the thing up to that level, saying: “Yeah, I did it, I did it; I hired these guys, sent them over there, because I thought it would be a good move and build me up in the operation; I’m a little guy.”

Nixon: =Liddy?

Haldeman: Nobody pays any attention to him.

Nixon: Who’s he? He’s the guy with the detective agency?

Haldeman: No. =Liddy is the general counsel for the =Re-ElectionFinanceCommittee and he is the guy who did this.

Nixon: =Mitchell.

Haldeman: I’m not sure how much he obviously knew something. I’m not how much. He clearly didn’t know any details.

Nixon: Isn’t there some way you can get a little better protection, little better protection for the =WhiteHouse on that? I think that was rather =ex. You know what I mean, the =Colson thing and so forth. I mean, he’s taking a bad rap there. Of course, if he’s taking the rap, basically the =WhiteHouse is taking the rap the =WhiteHouse consultant, and so forth and so on. He worked for =Kennedy, he worked for =Johnson, now he worked for the =WhiteHouse. That’s the whole story about him.

Haldeman: That he did.

Nixon: Okay. Well, maybe there isn’t much you can do about it. You’re convinced, though, this is a situation where =Colson is not involved, aren’t you?

Haldeman: Yes. I’m completely convinced of that. As far as I can determine.

Nixon: I’m not concerned. I just want to be sure we know what the facts are.

Haldeman: Well, I think that is the fact. The problem is that there are all kinds of other involvements and if they started a fishing thing on this they’re going to start picking up tracks. That’s what appeals to me about trying to get one jump ahead of them and hopefully cut the whole thing off and sink all of it. You see, =Ehrlichman paints a rather attractive picture on that, in that that gives you the opportunity to cut off the civil suit. The civil suit is potentially the most damaging thing to us in terms of those depositions.

Nixon: YOU mean you’d have =Liddy confess and say he did it unauthorized?

Haldeman: Unauthorized. And then on the civil suit, we plead whatever it is and you get a, what is it, a summary judgment or something. I don’t know what the legal name is. But he saw that as the way to cut it off, too, and then let it go to trial on the question of damages, and that would eliminate the need for the deposition.

Full Transcript


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