When first elected to Congress in 1946, Richard Nixon was a non-descript WWII veteran. He soon came to national prominence through his takedown of liberal icon Alger Hiss and his subsequent defeat of Hollywood diva Helen Gahagan Douglas to become California’s junior Senator. He then served as Eisenhower’s vice president for two terms, before losing an exceptionally close presidential race to John Kennedy in 1960. Left as politically dead after losing California’s gubernatorial race in 1962, he came back to narrowly win the presidency in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. This was followed by his sweeping 1972 re-election victory, where he carried every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
Nixon seemed unstoppable, but the Watergate Break-in gave his political opponents an opening which they skillfully exploited to drive him from office, thwart the Republican’s fundraising advantage, and launch investigations of expected GOP candidates for the 1976 presidential election. Internal documents recently coming to light at the National Archives confirm truly troublesome judicial and prosecutorial abuses which characterized the Watergate prosecutions.
As this annotated Watergate chronology will show, virtually everything that conventional wisdom holds about Watergate turns out to be badly mistaken.
1. Setting the Stage
A. The Players
Nixon rises from humble beginnings in California to become our 37th President, but remains an outsider, intensely disliked by the liberal Eastern establishment.
January 9, 1913 – Nixon is born in Yorba Linda, California.
June, 1934 – Nixon graduates from Whittier College (second in class).
June, 1937 – Nixon graduates from Duke Law School (third in class).
November 5, 1946 – Nixon beats popular incumbent Jerry Voorhees to become Whittier’s Congressman.
August 3, 1948 – Whittaker Chambers appears before House Un-American Activities Committee to accuse Alger Hiss of being a Soviet spy. [Nixon quickly comes to national prominence as chair of special subcommittee to investigate Hiss (who ends up being convicted of perjury in 1950). Nixon’s takedown of liberal icon Alger Hiss earned him both national recognition and the undying enmity of the liberal Eastern establishment.]
November 2, 1948 – Nixon re-elected to Congress, without opposition.
November 7, 1950 – Nixon beats Helen Gahagan Douglas to become a California Senator. [Douglas was a Congresswoman from Hollywood, who had stared in several motion pictures and had engaged in a flagrant and very public affair with then-Speaker Lyndon Johnson.]
September 3, 1952 – Nixon’s famous “Checkers” speech to the Nation, defending his record against allegations of improper financing of his campaigns.
November 4, 1952 – Nixon elected vice president when Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson.
November 6, 1956 – Nixon re-elected vice president when Eisenhower again defeats Stevenson.
September 26, 1960 – First Kennedy/Nixon Presidential Debate. [TV audiences felt Kennedy came off as statesman like, Nixon as stiff and wooden. Kennedy seemed to anticipate every Nixon point. It was later alleged that Kennedy’s people had bugged Nixon’s room at the Sheraton Wardman Hotel, where he had spent the week rehearsing before their first debate.]
November 8, 1960 – Nixon loses close presidential race to John F. Kennedy.
November 6, 1962 – Nixon loses race to become California’s governor to Edmond G. “Pat” Brown. Announces end of political career in stormy press conference the following day: “You won’t have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference”. [Nixon’s tax returns were leaked during this campaign.]
November 22, 1963 – JFK assassinated in Dallas, Vice President Lyndon Johnson becomes President. 16,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.
November 3, 1964 – Barry Goldwater loses to President Johnson in the largest election margin in history, known as the Goldwater Debacle. Democratic majorities in Congress reach record proportions. Nixon is only nationally known GOP politician to campaign on Goldwater’s behalf. 23,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.
June 17, 1965 – Shepard is presented the Richard Nixon scholarship at by the Republican Women’s Club. He was seated between former VP Nixon and Bob Finch, soon to run for CA’s lieutenant governor.
February 4, 1966 – John Dean is fired for “unethical conduct” after six months from Welch & Morgan, his first job after graduating from Georgetown Law School.
June, 1966 – Shepard graduates from Whittier College, bound for Harvard Law School.
March 16, 1968 – Robert F Kennedy announces candidacy for presidency, challenging Eugene McCarthy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who also are running for the Democratic nomination.
April 4, 1968 – Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, TN. Bloody riots in at least nineteen cities follow.
June 6, 1968 – RFK is assassinated in Los Angeles, right after winning the California primary.
November 5, 1968 – Nixon beats Humphrey and is elected President, but Republicans fail to gain control of either House of Congress. He is the first President since Zachery Taylor in 1848 to come into office without controlling either House of Congress. There are 537,000 US Troops in Vietnam. [Nixon was told by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that Johnson had ordered the bugging of Nixon’s plane during the last two weeks of the campaign. Others have argued that, while admitting that this order was given, the FBI was unable to accomplish it.]
January 15, 1969 – The Vietnam Study Task Force submits its highly classified Report on US Vietnam Relations (later known as the Pentagon Papers) to then Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, just days before Nixon is inaugurated. [Historians incorrectly conclude from transmittal document that all 47 volumes of the Report were completed by this date. Author Les Gelb only referenced 43 in his transmittal, and it appears only the first 37 actually had been finalized. A separate set is provided to the Brookings Institution, where Gelb, Paul Warnke and Morton Halperin continue to work for the next six months on its completion.]
January 20, 1969 – Richard Nixon inaugurated as 37th President of the United States.
June, 1969 – Shepard graduates from Harvard Law School and is awarded a White House Fellowship.
July 19, 1969 – Mary Jo Kopechne drowns in car driven by Senator Edward Kennedy in Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts. [Senator Kennedy, the only surviving brother, was expected to challenge Nixon in 1972, but this event effectively took him out of that race.]
August, 1969 – Investigative reporter Clark Mollenhoff joins the Nixon White House staff as Ombudsman. A liberal Democrat, his title is deputy counsel, reporting to John Ehrlichman, who is then Counsel to the President.
March 12, 1970 – Transmittal Message for Reorganization Plan 2 of 1970, which created the Domestic Council and OMB, when it became effective on July 1, 1970. [Message lays out extensive case for these changes in the Executive Office of the President.]
May, 1970 – Mollenhoff’s departure is announced, effective in July. [Chaffing at his limited access to the President, he returns to the Des Moines Register, now heading their Washington bureau office, where he quickly becomes Nixon’s fiercest newspaper critic.]
July, 1970 – Reorganization Plan 2 of 1970 becomes effective, creating Domestic Council, headed by Ehrlichman, and OMB, headed by George Shultz.
July 26, 1970 – Ehrlichman becomes Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, heading the newly created Domestic Council. John Dean leaves his position of Associate Deputy Attorney General and replaces Ehrlichman as Counsel to the President. [In sworn grand jury testimony on 1/29/74 (p. 5) Krogh claims to have been primarily responsible for recruiting Dean to the WH staff. Hiring Dean as Counsel to the President turns out to have been a devastating personnel mistake.]
August, 1970 – Shepard is among Ehrlichman’s first hires onto the Domestic Council staff.
February, 1971 – A secret taping system is installed, which automatically records the President’s Oval Office and EOB conversations, but the quality is poor. [President Nixon had a “hideaway” office in the Old EOB, across West Executive Avenue from the West Wing, where he went many afternoons to think through challenges and to discuss issues with a handful of trusted aides. The EOB tapes are uniformly of bad audio quality.]
May, 1971 – The Committee to Re-Elect the President (CRP) is established as Nixon’s re-election campaign organization. Its offices are located at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the WH compound. Jeb Magruder is sent from Haldeman’s staff to be acting head until Mitchell arrives from DOJ. [Mitchell had headed the successful 1968 campaign, but postponed taking charge of CRP because he so enjoyed being Attorney General.]
B. Leak of the Pentagon Papers
The existence of the Pentagon Papers was completely unknown to the Nixon WH, but when portions were printed in The New York Times and other newspapers (followed by the leak of our negotiating position in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), the WH established a Special Investigations Unit to stop the leaks, hunt down the leakers and bring them to justice. Aggressive actions were seen as justified in the name of national security.
The future difficulty for the WH was that the very same people who had taken questionable actions on behalf of the Plumbers in 1971 were the ones who then conducted the Watergate Break-in in 1972 (and where there clearly was no national security justification). The need to keep the Plumbers Unit activities from becoming public was a major rationale for the Watergate Cover-up.
June, 1971 – Egil Krogh hires Gordon Liddy onto the Domestic Council staff (from Treasury), where he soon joins newly established Plumbers Unit. [Hiring Liddy onto the WH staff turns out to be another devastating personnel mistake.]
June 13, 1971 – The New York Times publishes its first installment of the Pentagon Papers, portions of which were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, a former official at the Department of Defense. Ellsberg, who had worked on the Pentagon Papers while at the Pentagon, had become a fierce critic of the Vietnam War.
__________ – The FBI later reports to the WH that a copy of the Papers had been delivered to the Soviet Embassy on June 17, 1971. [The importance of this is not whether it turned out to be true or not; it’s that this is what the WH was told, which added an extraordinary sense of urgency in the need to know what else Ellsberg might be up to.]
June 18, 1971 – The Washington Post publishes a different segment of the Pentagon Papers. DOJ immediately seeks a restraining order and permanent injunction against the Post. Judge Gerhard Gesell, who had himself been a reporter before becoming a judge, refuses to grant a temporary restraining order (becoming the only one of 29 judges to so refuse). [Judge Gesell later becomes the only judge chosen by Judge Sirica to try Watergate-related cases.]
June 30, 1971 – The Supreme Court allows newspaper publication of the Pentagon Papers on a 6-3 vote. In a per curium opinion, it upholds the Times’ and Post’s right to publish. (New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713)
July 24, 1971 – A Special Investigations Unit is established within the WH, with Krogh (representing Ehrlichman and the Domestic Council) and David Young (representing Kissinger and the NSC) as co-heads. [Later known as the Plumbers Unit, their job is to ferret out and stop leaks of classified information and also to de-classify materials that no longer contain sensitive information. Liddy, a former FBI agent, and Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent, are soon chosen by Krogh to become the Plumber’s lead operatives.]
August 8, 1971 – Young and Krogh meet with Ehrlichman to discuss possible initiatives, including reviewing the files of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding. [It was felt that Ellsberg may have told Fielding of his plans for some 54,000 more pages of classified documents that Ellsberg had access to through his employment by defense contractor, The Rand Corporation. Or, at least, Fielding’s notes about Ellsberg might help the CIA to prepare a better psychological analysis of Ellsberg. Later, when questioned by prosecutors, Krogh and Young cannot recall specifically using the word “break-in” to describe how they might go about gaining access to Dr. Fielding’s files.]
August 11, 1971 – Young and Krogh send memo to Ehrlichman seeking approval of a “covert operation” to examine Fielding’s files. Approval is granted, with Ehrlichman’s notation, “If done under your assurance that it is not traceable.” [According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” Ehrlichman based his entire defense on the proposition that he had approved a secret mission and not necessarily an illegal one, but was convicted anyway, when Judge Gesell ruled that any covert initiative violated the Fourth Amendment.]
August 24-25, 1971 – Liddy and Hunt make recognizance trip to Fielding’s office in Los Angeles. [This is also where Liddy seeks to impress a waitress by holding his hand over a candle until his flesh burns. Liddy photographs are developed by CIA, which immediately cuts off further assistance.]
September 4, 1971 – Liddy and Hunt return to LA to supervise the Fielding Break-in. [When the Cubans conducting the actual Break-in were unable to gain entry by picking the lock, Liddy ordered them to break a window and make it look like someone was after narcotics. This assured that a police report was filed on the incident, such that details of the illicit entry could later be pinpointed precisely. Krogh was informed that the Break-in uncovered no helpful materials, but Fielding later testified that he’d found his Ellsberg files on the floor. It has been pointed out that Liddy, who technically was supervising the Break-in, was the only involved individual without long-standing CIA connections.]
C. Liddy’s Campaign Intelligence Plan
A separate campaign organization was established, to be led once again by John Mitchell (who had headed Nixon’s 1968 election campaign), with leadership drawn from Mitchell’s DOJ aides and from Haldeman’s WH aides. There was tension between these staffs, exacerbated by Mitchell’s delay in giving up his position as Attorney General. Magruder acted as chief of staff, reporting to both Mitchell and Haldeman (but communicated mainly through his assistant, Gordon Strachan).
October, 1971 – Haldeman assigns Dean the responsibility for developing a campaign intelligence operation for CRP. He soon recruits Liddy to design and implement it, promising at least $500,000 for starters.
December 8, 1971 – Liddy leaves WH staff to become CRP general counsel, with added responsibility for developing the campaign intelligence plan. [Jeb Magruder, who is CRP’s acting head until Mitchell resigns as Attorney General, soon learns that Liddy expects $1 million in support. He insists that only Mitchell can approve that large of an expense item, so he arranges a meeting in Mitchell’s DOJ office.]
January 27, 1972 – First Liddy presentation in Mitchell’s AG office, with Dean and Magruder also present. Liddy’s $1 million proposal, known as “Gemstone,” is presented on charts prepared by the CIA, and includes proposals for mugging, bugging, kidnapping and prostitution. Plan is not approved and Liddy is asked to revise his proposal.
February 4, 1972 – Second Liddy presentation in Mitchell’s office, again with Dean and Magruder present. It is now priced at $500,000. Mugging, kidnapping and prostitution have been dropped, but it now includes specific targets for bugging. Meeting ends when Dean points out that this meeting should not be occurring in the AG’s office.
________ – Dean later claims that he had informed Haldeman of aggressive campaign tactics being considered by CRP and secured his agreement that the WH should have nothing further to do with them. However, there is no record of such a meeting and Haldeman ultimately concluded it was a later fabrication by Dean. This event is Road Map Item 30, citing pp. 23-29 of Dean’s 11/19/73 grand jury testimony, but the remainder of the entry is redacted. [Various references to the Road Map appear throughout this chronology. It was prepared by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force (WSPF), who convinced the grand jury to ask Judge Sirica to transmit their sealed Report to the House Judiciary Committee (HJC). Dated March 1, 1974, it remained secret until October 11, 2018, when it was ordered unsealed in response to my Petition. NB: Road Map citations include actual documents, grand jury testimony and tape transcripts – which also were unsealed in the Court’s order.]
March 1, 1972 – Mitchell resigns as attorney general to become head of CRP.
March, 1972 – Charles Colson calls Magruder to urge proceeding with Liddy intelligence plan. [Although Liddy and Hunt are in his office at the time, Colson later argues that he had no idea of the plan’s specifics.]
March, 1972 – Magruder disburses $37,000 to Liddy to cover expenses Liddy had already incurred in connection with his intelligence plan. [This act undercuts Magruder’s claim that Mitchell had approved Liddy’s plan, which came later in the month (if at all)]
March 27, 1972 – Due to friction with Magruder (he’d threatened to kill him), Liddy is removed as CRP general counsel to become counsel to CRP Finance Committee, but retains his intelligence plan responsibilities. [Both Dean and Strachan had counseled Magruder not to fire Liddy over this “personal matter.”]
March 30, 1972 – Magruder and Fred LaRue meet with Mitchell in Miami to discuss pending campaign items, including Liddy’s revised intelligence plan, now priced at $250,000. [Stories differ as to whether the plan is actually approved, with Magruder claiming it was and Mitchell and LaRue that it was not. Regardless, Magruder acts as though he has secured approval. Dean was not present at this third meeting.]
April 4, 1972 – Nixon meets with Haldeman and Mitchell to review the campaign decisions made by Mitchell on March 30th. This is Road Map Item 29, which adds “one of the decisions made at Key Biscayne was to approve a budget of approximately $250,000 for a CRP intelligence program headed by G. Gordon Liddy.” The Road Map cites seven items as proof, but no one other than Magruder actually claims the plan was approved. In fact, both LaRue and Mitchell deny these allegations. While not cited in the Road Map, Mitchell devoted a substantial amount of his Cover-up Trial defense to maintaining he hadn’t approved the Liddy plan and so had nothing to cover-up. It is odd that WSPF prosecutors could not come up with better proof on this critical issue.
29.1: pp. 22-25 of Magruder’s 5/2/73 grand jury testimony, where Magruder testifies Liddy’s plan was approved. “But, basically, we did agree to firm [fund] the projects, because we felt there were enough individuals that were interested in this information and we thought that there could possibly be some use put to this information by ourselves, as well as individuals at the White House.”
29.2: pp. 7-12 of LaRue’s 4/18/73 grand jury testimony, where LaRue testifies Liddy’s plan was not approved. Mitchell “looked over at me and he asked if I had seen it and I said that I had, and he asked, ‘What do you think?’ I said ‘I don’t think it’s worth the risk.’ As I recall, Mr. Mitchell sat there a few minutes, or a few seconds, and he said, ‘Well don’t have to do anything on this now.’ And that was the end of the meeting.”
29.3: Haldeman’s log of conversations with Nixon, which contain no content description.
29.4: pp. 38-44 of Robert Reisner’s 8/15/73 grand jury testimony, where Magruder’s assistant testifies, “Mr. Magruder, as I remember, stopped in the entrance to my office and said, ‘Call Liddy and tell him it’s approved. Tell him we want to get going in the next two weeks.’ Reisner has no recollection of Magruder calling from Miami about the Liddy item, but his notes indicate that Liddy stopped by on April 1 and said he needed an answer.
29.5: Haldeman’s Ervin Committee testimony, at Tr. 6071-72, Grand Jury Exhibit #R5, February 26, 1974. “As a matter of fact, the meeting with Mr. Mitchell that day [April 4, 1972] was in connection with a meeting of Mitchell and me with the President. My notes taken at the meeting with the President indicate the discussion covered the ITT-Kleindienst hearings and a review of Mitchell’s plans for assigning regional campaign responsibilities to specific individuals. They indicate no discussion of intelligence.”
29.6: Pp. 23-29 of Dean’s 11/19/73 grand jury testimony [where he describes his 2/6/72 meeting with Liddy, Magruder and Mitchell and says Mitchell didn’t disapprove the plan – and Liddy’s later comment that he just couldn’t get the plan off the ground – but nowhere says anything about the Miami meeting of March 30th or about the plan being approved.]
The recording of Nixon’s meeting with Dean on the morning of March 13, 1973, and the transcript at pp. 40-41, where Dean is telling Nixon that they didn’t get any intel out of the plan in any event. Here, too, there is no discussion whatsoever of how Liddy’s plan came to be approved.
April 7, 1972 – New campaign finance law comes into effect, replacing the Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, which DOJ had admitted in testimony that they didn’t enforce. The new law requires, for the first time, disclosure of donor names. [CRP had raised some $10 million in advance of this effective date. Two contributions were received just after the deadline, from prominent Democratic donors. Liddy opined that they were legally received, but took the money to Miami and laundered it through Bernard Barker’s business account, returning with some $125,000 in newly issued $100 bills, which were given to CRP treasurer Hugh Sloan and stored in CRP’s safe.]
II. Watergate Break-in and Beginning of the Cover-up
The three-week period between the Break-in arrests and Mitchell’s resignation from CRP set the stage for all that followed.
The Watergate Break-in was a bumbled affair, at best, seemingly undertaken by the Keystone Cops. Indeed, it was originally described by the WH press office as “a third-rate burglary.” There is still no agreement on the motive for the actual Break-in – and a series of books have been written which raise questions as to who knew in advance, what the real mission was, and who was really responsible for its planning and implementation.
There is no attempt here to resolve these questions, merely to note that they exist. The bottom line, however, is that it was clearly an illegal act and fully appropriate that those involved to have been prosecuted. The lingering question remains, now as then, just how high up the chain of command any knowledge of the Break-in went.
It has never been shown that anyone on the WH staff (as distinguished from CRP staff), particularly Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Nixon (and except for Dean), had absolutely any advance knowledge of the planned Break-in. Those that knew of Liddy’s plans, however (certainly including Dean, Magruder and perhaps Mitchell), quickly embarked upon a Cover-up, which drew in many more individuals and ultimately made the scandal much worse.
One possible interpretation is that Nixon returned from the Bahamas, where he’d been relaxing; he and his senior aides demanded the truth, only to learn that the trail, if followed closely, might well end up at Mitchell’s doorstep. Nixon then fired his best friend. Instead of throwing him to the wolves, however, Nixon and his senior aides chose to let the investigation take its natural course. After assuring themselves that Colson was not the instigator (and, therefore, there was no actual WH involvement), they dispatched Dean to CRP to protect WH interests and be sure the problem was “contained” at CRP. Bad as the fallout might be, it would involve CRP and not the WH. Because of his own risk of prosecution from the two meetings in Mitchell’s office, Dean turned out to be the worst possible choice. His orchestration of the Cover-up was mainly to protect himself. When it collapsed, he sold out his colleagues and sought immunity for his own criminal acts.
In response to the Break-in, the US Attorney’s office undertook an extensive investigation, ultimately involving over a hundred FBI agents and exclusive use of a specially-dedicated grand jury.
In the course of the Cover-up, Dean and Magruder enlisted any number of here-to-fore uninvolved individuals at CRP (without disclosure of their own criminal liability), who were later convicted and imprisoned for their role in “helping the President.”
Dean also committed a number of criminal acts, in addition to obstruction of justice: He not only rehearsed Magruder for his perjured testimony in two appearances before the grand jury (subornation of perjury), but also destroyed evidence, embezzled campaign funds, and arranged to receive investigatory updates from the FBI, which he improperly shared with the burglars’ defense counsel.
May 3, 1972 – As J. Edgar Hoover’s body lay in state, an anti-war demonstration is held by Daniel Ellsberg, William Kunstler and others. The WH arranges for a counter-demonstration, bringing the Cubans up from Miami to provide protection. [The issue later investigated by WSPF Plumbers Task Force is whether Charles Colson could be prosecuted for inciting violence in connection with this event. See Nick Akerman’s memo of June 5, 1975, which describes the extensive WSPF resources devoted to this effort.]
May 28, 1972 – First illegal entry into DNC offices at Watergate office building, wiretaps are supposedly planted on phones of Larry O’Brien and Spencer Oliver. Magruder later is told that Oliver’s tap works, but O’Brien’s doesn’t.
June 5, 1972 – A DC grand jury is empaneled, which quickly devotes substantially all of its time in investigating the Watergate Break-in and ensuing Cover-up. Originally scheduled to expire on December 4, 1973, it is extended by Act of Congress on November 30, 1973 and then again on May 31, 1974. It finally expired on December 4, 1974
June 17, 1972 – Second illegal entry is made into DNC offices in Watergate office building, supposedly to repair tap on O’Brien’s phone. James McCord, CRP’s head of security, and four Cubans are caught red-handed and arrested on site. [The Cubans are found to possess uncirculated $100 bills, which the FBI soon traces to Bernard Barker’s Miami bank account. Liddy and Hunt are arrested not long thereafter. Papers announce Nixon’s lead over McGovern is the largest poll margin in history. It has been pointed out that Liddy, the supposed leader of the Break-in team, is the only member without extensive, long-term CIA connections].
June 18, 1973 – CRP issues press release denying any culpability. [This is seen by prosecutors as the first overt act in the ensuing Cover-up.]
_________ – Liddy approaches Attorney General Richard Kleindienst at Burning Tree Country Club, saying Mitchell wants him to get McCord out of jail before his true identify becomes known. Kleindienst refuses, but does not report this incident to investigators.
June 19, 1972 – Strachan takes it upon himself to destroy possibly embarrassing materials in his (i.e.: Haldeman’s) files that have been sent over from CRP by Magruder.
_________ – Dean (returning from Manila) takes charge. Dean meets with Liddy at 11:15am that morning, who admits it was his team that was caught and says it was because Magruder was pressing him for more information. Dean later claims to have reported this to Ehrlichman and Haldeman. [This is supposedly when Hunt is ordered out of the country, but testimony differs on just who originated that idea (which was quickly countermanded by Dean in any event after speaking with Colson.)]
_________ – Dean meets with Mitchell, Magruder, LaRue and Robert Mardian in Mitchell’s apartment that evening to begin orchestrating the Cover-up in earnest.
June 20, 1972 – First recorded Nixon/Haldeman conversation following Watergate arrests. Haldeman notes contain the word “Watergate”, but conversation is overlaid by a distinct buzzing sound [This becomes known as the 18 Minute Gap and is Road Map Item 31. Even today, no one knows just how the 18 minutes were lost, but in Appendix A of his 2014 book, The Nixon Defense, Dean says the gap is “historically insignificant,” since it was too early for them to learn anything and neither Nixon nor Haldeman took note of their conversation in their respective diaries.]
________ – Mardian and LaRue interview Liddy in LaRue’s Watergate apartment and learn extent of his illegal activities, along with his assertion he’d been promised that his people would receive money for legal and living expenses. LaRue then relays this information to Mitchell.
__________ – Nixon spoke with Mitchell, but there is no recording of their conversation, the explanation being that Nixon used a phone that was not connected to the taping system. This is Road Map Item 32, citing Nixon’s Daily Diary and an excerpt from his Dictabelt recording of his recollections from that day.
__________ – GSA brings contents from Hunt’s EOB office safe to Dean’s office for his review. [This is where Dean separates out Hunt’s address book and two Hermes notebooks, which he secrets in his file cabinet, as well as Hunt’s draft cables about Vietnam President Diem’s assassination, which are not turned over to FBI agents.]
June 22, 1972 – Edward Bennett Williams files complaint against CRP on behalf of the DNC, claiming damages from the Break-in. [He quickly embarks on extensive deposition schedule, which is of great concern to CRP and WH. They finally convince Judge Richey to postpone this suit, when criminal indictments are handed down in September. There are credible allegations developed by the Ervin Committee that the DNC was tipped off as to the pending Break-in and, thus, may have prepared the suit in advance.]
June 23, 1972 – Second recorded Nixon/Haldeman conversation following Watergate arrests, where the President agrees to Dean’s recommendation to get the CIA to tell the FBI not to proceed with two interviews. [The release of this tape (the “Smoking Gun”) on August 5, 1974, undermined Nixon’s contention that he had no involvement and he announced his resignation three days later. It subsequently developed that his lawyers had misunderstood the context of his actions, which turned out to have been taken to prevent disclosure of several significant Democrat donors to CRP. Even Dean has written in his 2014 book: “In short, the Smoking Gun was shooting blanks.”]
________ – Watergate Grand Jury I begins to hear evidence concerning the Break-in. [The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia assumed responsibility for the ensuing investigation, which was led by principle associate Earl Silbert, along with his colleagues Seymour Glanzer and Donald Campbell. They directed the FBI’s investigation.]
June 28, 1972 – Liddy fired from CRP for refusing to answer FBI questions about the Break-in.
________ – Dean later testified that Haldeman and Ehrlichman approved the use of Herb Kalmbach “to raise and distribute covert cash funds for the benefit of those involved in the Watergate Break-in.” This is Road Map Item 33, citing only pp. 93 and 102-103 of Dean’s 11/19/73 grand jury testimony as proof. [Nowhere in Dean’s testimony, however, is there any mention of the funds being “covert”.]
________ –LaRue meets with Kalmbach to discuss secret delivery method for defendant payments, done mainly by Anthony Ulasewicz, a retired NYC cop.
________ –Ehrlichman and Dean give Acting FBI Director Pat Gray a portion of the contents from Hunt’s EOB safe, principally documents from Hunt’s efforts to reconstruct a cable supposedly connecting the Kennedy administration to the 1973 assassination of Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem. Gray later burns these in his vacation home fireplace, so their precise nature remains unknown. [Interestingly, there really was such a cable, which had been kept hidden by the Kennedy administration. It is known as Cable 243, now available on-line. This is also the timeframe where Dean says Ehrlichman told him to “Deep Six” certain documents, but he decided not to.]
June 30, 1972 – Nixon meets with Haldeman and Mitchell. This is Road Map Item 34, with the only citation being to the WH tape and related transcript.
July 1, 1972 – Mitchell resigns as head of CRP, supposedly because of his alcoholic wife, Martha. [WH tapes, however, have Haldeman telling Nixon that he suggested Mitchell might wish to resign, in advance of possible troubles down the road.]
July 6, 1972 – Gray speaks to Nixon by phone. This event is Road Map Item 35, whose description says “during which Gray warned the President that the President’s top aides were ‘mortally wounding’ him and /or were not cooperating with the FBI investigation, and/or that ‘the matter of Watergate might lead higher,” citing pp. 101-103 of Gray’s 7/19/73 grand jury testimony and Nixon’s public statements of 5/22/73 and 8/22/73. [WSPF prosecutors omitted the very next paragraph of Gray’s testimony, which said, “There was a perceptible pause, a noticeable pause, and the President said to me, ‘Pat, you just continue to conduct your aggressive and thorough investigation.’ And that was the end of the phone call.”
Week of July 4, 1972 – Ehrlichman had a conversation with the President regarding the possibility of executive clemency for those involved in Watergate. This event is Road Map Item 36, citing pp. 88-92 and 127-128 of Ehrlichman’s 9/13/73 grand jury testimony, along with presidential statements on 8/15 and 11/17, 1973. [Ehrlichman’s actual testimony was to the effect that he was warning Nixon not to become involved in any clemency discussions at that point.]
July 14, 1972 – Sloan resigns as CRP Treasurer, after refusing to participate in the Cover-up, by faking records of cash disbursements to Liddy. His deputy, Bart Porter does consent to help and is later convicted for his perjured testimony.
August 16, 1972 – Magruder testifies before grand jury, after Dean helps to rehearse him for his perjured testimony concerning Liddy’s supervision and their meetings in Mitchell’s office. LaRue tells Ervin Committee that he, Mitchell, Mardian and Dean had all met with Magruder in advance and knew he was going to offer this false testimony
August 28, 1972 – Krogh gives sworn deposition before US Attorneys (in lieu of actual grand jury appearance), during which he perjures himself, by denying any knowledge of why Liddy and Hunt might have flown to California. [In his orchestration of the Cover-up, Dean had told Krogh that the President wanted him to lie about people connected with the Fielding Break-in, saying “Lie. Lie like you’ve never lied before.” Krogh would become the first WH official to be indicted in the expanding Watergate scandal.]
________ – Colson testifies before grand jury.
August 30, 1972 – Nixon announces Dean has conducted investigation into Watergate and concluded no one from WH was involved. [This could be seen as the “First” Dean Report, since Dean had been asked to ascertain whether Colson or anyone else on the WH had been involved. Dean neglected to disclose his own participation in the two meetings in Attorney General Mitchell’s office. If he had, he would certainly have been terminated from the WH staff, as someone whose involvement might embarrass the WH.]
September 13, 1972 – At the end of their investigation, Silbert submits a 21-page Prosecutive Memorandum on the Watergate Break-in to Henry Petersen (who heads DOJ’s Criminal Division), just before the indictments are handed down, essentially saying “Here’s what we know at this point. We’re going to indict those we can convict for sure. Once convicted, we’ll see if they name any higher-ups.”
________ – Magruder again testifies before grand jury.
September 14, 1972 – Mitchell testifies before grand jury.
September 18, 1972 – Kalmbach stops as paymaster and is replaced by LaRue.
III. Indictments and Break-in Trial
Indictments of seven individuals came three months after the Break-in arrests, following an extensive investigation. Nixon’s opponents, unsatisfied that no senior people were included, launched their own investigations. Ted Kennedy’s investigation was first, but soon seen as being too political, so it was replaced by the Ervin Committee (which promptly hired many of Kennedy’s people, particularly Carmine Bellino, his chief investigator). Judge Sirica was lobbied and lauded for turning the Break-in Trial into a search for the “truth” of who was really behind the Break-in.
But the Cover-up largely held, even though Silbert had been telling Hunt and McCord all along that his plan was to convict and see them sentenced to prison – and then immunize them from further prosecution so they couldn’t refuse to testify, and haul them back before the grand jury.
September 15, 1972 – Silbert has grand jury indict seven original Watergate burglars: four Cubans, McCord, Liddy and Hunt.
_________ – Dean meets with Haldeman and Nixon, who complements him on keeping the Watergate issue away from the WH. This event is Road Map Item 37. [Omitted from the WSPF presentation is any mention of the fact that prosecutors listed Dean’s Ervin Committee testimony about this meeting as one of some nineteen “material discrepancies” with what was later shown on the WH tapes.]
September 21, 1972 – Judge Richey orders DNC civil suit filed by Edward Bennett Williams be stayed in light of criminal indictments.
Late September – LaRue makes a $25,000 cash payment to William Bittman, Hunt’s attorney, which he understands is for defendants’ legal fees.
October, 1972 – Senator Edward Kennedy launches his own Watergate investigation via his Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Practices and Procedures, which he chairs, assigning five full-time staff members. As chairman, he issues committee subpoenas to obtain telephone and credit card records of dirty trickster Donald Segretti.
November 7, 1972 – Nixon re-elected to second term, beating George McGovern by 61% majority, the second largest margin in U.S. history, and winning electoral votes in all states except Massachusetts and DC. 24,000 U.S. Troops in Vietnam.
November, 1972 – Bob Woodward obtains names of Watergate grand jurors, supposedly from the Court Clerk’s office. After discussion with Washington Post management, he and Carl Bernstein set out to interview them about their ongoing investigation. [The grand jury is supposed to operate in complete secrecy, such that interviewing them could be seen as illegally interfering with a judicial proceeding.]
November 15, 1972 – Dean goes to Camp David to meet with Haldeman and Ehrlichman. [Dean later claims that he played Colson’s tape of Hunt’s increasingly strident monetary demands, which they stoutly deny.]
December 4, 1972 – Bernstein interviews Watergate grand juror, later described in their book as “Z” (whom they falsely claim was a CRP secretary). [Bernstein’s seven pages of typed notes from this interview do not surface until Jeff Himmelman finds them in Ben Bradlee’s files while researching his 2014 book.]
December, 1972 – Separate grand juror complains to Silbert about Bernstein approach, who informs Sirica. [The Post’s lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, is dispatched to meet with Sirica to smooth things over and to deny (falsely, it develops) that Bernstein actually met with any grand juror. Williams and his wife are exceptionally close to Sirica and are god-parents to Sirica’s daughter.]
December 15, 1972 – Ehrlichman meets with Helms and Colby to discuss materials to be provided to Silbert concerning Hunt’s 1971 relationship with the CIA.
December 19, 1972 – Sirica scolds media representatives gathered in his courtroom (without mentioning Woodward or Bernstein by name) and instructs them never to approach Watergate grand jurors.
December, 1972 – Mollenhoff has series of private meetings with Sirica, urging aggressive role as judge in the Break-in Trial, he then writes a news column predicting such conduct and praising Sirica for it. He writes about his Sirica meetings in two later books, claiming credit for convincing Sirica to turn trial into his search for “truth”. [This sort of ex parte meeting with a judge in advance of trial is a clear breech of professional and judicial ethics. Had it become known, Sirica could not have presided over the Break-in Trial.]
_______ – Following a meeting in Dean’s office, LaRue makes a $50,000 cash payment to Bittman. He has received this amount from Gordon Strachan, who delivered it on Haldeman’s instruction.
December/January – Haldeman approves transfer of $350,000 in cash to CRP, which came in two deliveries by Gordan Strachan – $50,000 in December and $280,000 in January, from which he made payments of $25,000 and $35,000 to Bittman and $20,000 to Liddy’s lawyer, Peter Marouois.
This event is Road Map Item 38 and described as “transfer of money from a secret White House cash fund of $350,000 to be used for payments to and for the benefit of the Watergate defendants,” citing pp. 34-36 of Dean’s 11/20/73 grand jury testimony and pp. 124-126 of Haldeman’s 1/30/74 testimony. [Dean testified Mitchell had asked him to request the money from Haldeman. Haldeman testified that he was returning the cash to CRP and not particularly caring about its use. He admitted he knew they were making payments to the Watergate defendants, but denied they were in response to defendants’ monetary demands. WSPF prosecutors stipulated at trial that all payments were made in response to invoices for legal defense bills or for humanitarian aid – but added if they also were paid for silence (as Dean maintained), then they constituted “hush money” and were illegal.]
January, 1973 – Sirica takes Silbert aside in private and instructs him on how Sirica would handle a trial in which a cover-up has been suspected. Sirica later writes about this meeting in his book. [This ex parte meeting with a prosecutor is a clear breech of professional ethics. Had it become known, Sirica could not have presided at the Break-in Trial.]
January 8, 1973 – Watergate Break-in Trial begins before Judge Sirica. Defendants are Hunt, Liddy, McCord and four Cubans.
January 11, 1973 – Hunt pleads guilty. [His proposed plea bargain with prosecutors had involved only three counts, but Sirica, seeking to discourage any pre-trial deals, insisted that any guilty pleas be to all pending charges, so Hunt ended up pleading guilty to all six charges, which was no plea bargain at all. Case law was later clarified to prohibit a judge from interfering with plea bargains worked out between prosecutors and defendants, but it was too late to help Hunt.]
January 15, 1973 – All four Cubans plead guilty, again in concurrence with Sirica’s demand that they plead guilty to all counts. [One goal of the Cover-up was to get all burglary defendants to plead guilty, thereby avoiding any actual trial –- which Sirica was bound and determined to use to get at the “truth” of who was responsible for the Break-in. Liddy, “the iron man of Watergate,” refused to talk to anyone. While neither testified at trial, McCord was the loose cannon. He declined any financial help and would not speak to his former colleagues. Ultimately, it was McCord and his letter to Sirica that triggered the Cover-up’s collapse.]
Late January, 1973 – Dean later claims that this was when he destroyed Hunt’s address book and two Hermes notebooks, originally found in Hunt’s EOB safe, which Dean had separated out and stored in his office safe. [Dean hid this action from prosecutors for at least eleven (and possibly 18) months – until after he had reached a plea bargain to plead guilty to a single felony count.]
January 30, 1973 – Following trial, Liddy and McCord are convicted on all counts. [Sirica expresses frustration in not being able to get to the “truth” during the trial and calls for a Senate investigation. He also submits list of eight people whom he demands prosecutors call before the grand jury.]
___________ – Haldeman testifies before grand jury.
February 7, 1973 – Senate establishes its Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (Ervin Committee), replacing Kennedy’s investigation (which is seen as too political), on 77-0 vote. [This followed party line votes limiting the scope of their investigation solely to the 1972 presidential election. Majority members are Sam Ervin (D-NC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Joseph Montoya (D-NM), Herman Talmadge (D-GA); Minority members are Howard Baker (R-TN), Edward Gurney (R-FL), Lowell Weicker (R-MA). Weicker states his only interest in participating is to sink Nixon.]
Mid-February – While Nixon is nearby in the Western White House in San Clemente, Ehrlichman and Haldeman meet with Dean and Richard Moore, another WH counsel, at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA to analyze and prepare for Ervin Committee hearings. [This meeting is later characterized by WSPF prosecutors as proof of Haldeman and Ehrlichman’s participation in the Cover-up. The issue, as noted by WSPF prosecutors, is, “At what point do steps taken to protect yourself politically become an obstruction of justice?”]
Late February – Dean tells Ehrlichman that an Executive Privilege claim on his behalf might not be sustained, due to his infrequent contact with Nixon. [This event is Road Map Item 39, citing pp. 7-8 of Dean’s 2/14/74 grand jury testimony.]
February 28, 1973 – Dean meets with Nixon and discusses Watergate matters. [This event is Road Map Item 41, citing the tape and transcript of that meeting.]
March 13, 1973 – Nixon again meets with Dean to discuss Watergate matters. [This event is Road Map Item 42, citing the tape and transcript of that meeting.]
March 16, 1973 – Hunt meets with CRP attorney Paul O’Brien and asks for $120,000, saying he had done some “seamy things” for the WH and if not paid soon, would have to “review his options.” [This is Road Map Item 1, quoting the above description, but adding “and for Ehrlichman”, citing grand jury testimony of both O’Brien and Hunt. Trouble is, nowhere in those transcripts does Ehrlichman’s name appear. Did Dean invent this portion to get Ehrlichman’s attention? Why didn’t WSPF pick up this omission?]
March 17, 1973 – Nixon meets with Dean and discusses Watergate matters. [This event is Road Map Item 43, citing the tape and transcript of that meeting.]
________ – Sam Dash, majority counsel, is eager to line up Ervin Committee witnesses. He meets privately with Sirica and urges maximum sentencing with possible reduction conditioned on defendants’ cooperation with his Committee. [Dash then writes about this meeting in his later book. This sort of ex parte meeting is a clear violation of existing ethical standards, let alone the questionable constitutionality of a judge conditioning sentence reduction on legislative testimony.]
IV. The Cover-up’s Collapse: The Critical Week of March 19th
The five-week period between the release of the McCord letter and the departures of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean and Kleindienst mark the public unraveling of Dean’s Cover-up. Nixon fights the inevitable, with all of his political skills, but ultimately agrees to fire his two top WH aides. Nixon’s many opponents and the Democrat-controlled Congress see a way to undo Nixon’s historic re-election victory by re-casting Dean as a whistleblowing hero.
Initially at least, Dean’s Cover-up had seemed to be going rather well: Liddy was the only one who knew about his relationships with Dean and Magruder, along with the real content of those meetings in Mitchell’s office, and he had clammed up completely. Hunt and the Cubans knew nothing other than that which they’d been told by Liddy, and seemed willing to take direction from their lawyers, who were urging them not to cooperate with prosecutors. McCord, however, was a different matter entirely. He wouldn’t accept any expense money, he’d fired his initial lawyers (who were urging him to plead guilty), and he resisted any idea of casting suspicion on the CIA (which seemed heavily involved through its Liddy/Hunt connections). But McCord knew very little of the actions of higher-ups. While he was CRP’s head of security, McCord didn’t socialize with the rest of the CRP staff (not coming from either DOJ or the WH) and really had no idea of what else had been going on within the campaign organization.
Regardless, it was McCord who broke first. While he couldn’t add any specifics to his accusatory letter, his action triggered the Cover-up’s collapse. It panicked Magruder, who sought reassurances from Dean, Mitchell and others that they would continue to stand behind his perjured testimony. When those assurances were slow in forthcoming, Magruder decided to hire his own criminal defense lawyer, who quickly urged him to seek a plea bargain by turning on Mitchell. Knowing of Magruder’s decision to seek counsel, Dean also folded his hand and actually beat Magruder in the race to reach out to prosecutors in pursuit of immunity.
During the course of twelve meetings or phone calls with prosecutors over the month of April, Dean’s story changed from “my testimony can deliver Magruder and Mitchell,” to “there was a Cover-up conspiracy, which included Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Nixon.” Whereas the career prosecutors refused to give Dean immunity, the Ervin Committee and WSPF prosecutors saw Dean’s revised story as the only way to reach Nixon and his top aides – and they bought into it entirely.
March 19, 1973 – McCord, very fearful of spending time in jail, goes rogue. He delivers letter to Sirica alleging a cover-up has occurred. [McCord letter is publicly released by Sirica on March 23rd.]
_________ – Appointment records show CRP attorney Paul O’Brien visiting WH at 5:20pm. [This is where he tells Dean of Hunt’s monetary demands. The record of his entry is attachment 2.2 to the Road Map.]
_________ – Dean informs Ehrlichman of Hunt’s monetary demands. [This is Road Map Item 3, which claims Ehrlichman instructed Dean to relay Hunt’s demand to Mitchell, yet that’s not confirmed in Ehrlichman’s 9/13/73 grand jury testimony, where he denies so instructing Dean. Dean, in his 2/14/73 grand jury testimony, has a considerably different take on their conversation, saying Ehrlichman told him to call Mitchell, which is cited as Road Map Attachment 4.1]
_________ – Ehrlichman meets that evening with Nixon, where they discuss the status of the Watergate scandal. [A review of this tape, where they are blithely unconcerned with possible developments (including McCord possibly going off the reservation), makes it difficult to believe they were knowing participants in any Cover-up. Interestingly, it does not appear that Ehrlichman relayed any news of Hunt’s monetary demands, which he had learned from Dean earlier that afternoon.]
March 20, 1973 – Dean also meets with Krogh to discuss Hunt’s monetary demands and to convey how he upset is at this development. [This is cited as pp. 5-10 of Road Map Item 3.2. Partial conversation at beginning has Dean telling Krogh that the President doesn’t know what has been going on – but prosecutors never acknowledge or cite this section.]
________ – Following up their ex parte meeting, Sirica calls Dash to invite him to Break-in sentencing hearing that coming Friday.
________ – Sometime after 5pm, Krogh speaks to Ehrlichman by phone and they discuss Hunt’s monetary demands and the implications for the Plumbers Unit. [Krogh’s testimony is from pp. 5-10 of his 1/29/74 grand jury testimony, which is cited and reproduced as Road Map Item 3.2]
_________ – Late in the evening, Dean relays news of Hunt’s monetary demands to Mitchell, in guarded call to his apartment they discuss “the Greek bearing gifts” [This event is Road Map Item 4, citing evidence as pp. 65-66 of Dean’s 2/14/74 grand jury testimony, as well as WH tape transcript of his meeting of 3/21/73 with Nixon. Also cited as confirmation of this meeting is Road Map Attachment 5.1, the transcript of Dean’s meeting of 3/21/73, where he tells RN about his Mitchell conversation the evening before.]
March 21, 1973 – Dean relays news of Hunt’s monetary demands to LaRue, refuses to authorize payment, and suggests he contact Mitchell. [The seemingly unresolved issue is precisely when LaRue spoke to Mitchell. The timing of this call never comes up in LaRue’s Ervin Committee testimony. LaRue later testifies as their call having occurred in the morning. See discussion below.]
_________ – Dean’s “cancer on the presidency” meeting with Nixon, lasting from 10:30am to Noon, where he says they are being blackmailed by Hunt, who has demanded $120,000, in anticipation of being led off to prison after his March 23rd sentencing. Nixon discusses possibility of meeting Hunt’s monetary demands (to buy time for them to get their own story out), but no decisions are reached. [Dean did not tell Nixon about his own role in orchestrating the Cover-up. Two weeks later, in meetings with prosecutors, Dean said that he’d tried to explain the situation to the President in this meeting, but that Nixon simply did not understand. For almost all of the scandal’s unfolding, the battle between prosecutors and Nixon’s defense team was over what Nixon had done after this meeting – the point at which both he and Dean agreed he’d first learned any details of the Cover-up.]
___________ – Road Map cites Nixon’s Dictabelt recording about that meeting as evidence of his views concerning their conversation, as well as WH tapes of 6/4/73 and 4/16/73.]
__________ – Haldeman calls Mitchell at 12:30pm. Haldeman testifies the purpose of the call was to invite Mitchell to the WH to discuss what Dean had just told Nixon. WSPF prosecutors maintain it was to relay Nixon’s order that Hunt be paid, which Haldeman denies. [This call is Road Map Item 6, citing Haldeman’s telephone log for that day, pp. 4-16 of his 1/10/74 grand jury testimony, and p. 16 of Dean’s 2/14/74 grand jury testimony. Nowhere in any of these cited materials do Haldeman or Mitchell say their call included any Nixon instruction to pay Hunt.]
__________ – At some point this same day, LaRue speaks to Mitchell and gets approval to pay that portion of Hunt’s demand that will cover his existing legal expenses, which total $75,000. [This call is Road Map Item 7, attaching as 7.1 (its only “proof”) pp. 7-10A of LaRue’s grand jury testimony. While LaRue does describe their phone conversation, nowhere is there any mention of what time of day it occurred. [WSPF prosecutors secretly assure both grand jurors and HJC staff that this call occurred after Nixon had learned of Hunt’s blackmail demands from Dean – which was essential to their circumstantial case that Nixon himself must have approved this payment. No witness, then or since, has ever so testified to this timing. At the later Cover-up Trial, LaRue testifies that he recalls this call as occurring in the morning (i.e.: before Nixon even learned of Hunt’s demand), which would keep Nixon out of this decision chain. Further, LaRue testifies that CRP customarily cut defendant’s money requests and that he never sought permission from Mitchell to pay any larger amount in this instance, either. LaRue’s testimony undercuts WSPF prosecutors’ theory that Nixon had personally approved the payment of Hunt’s blackmail demands. The number Nixon heard from Dean was $120,000; if he had ordered that amount paid, no one would have dared to reduce the specified amount.]
__________ – Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean meet at about 3:45pm to review where matters stand. [This meeting is Road Map Item 8, which cites as evidence p. 17 of Dean’s 2/14/74 grand jury testimony, that day’s meeting logs of Haldeman and Ehrlichman, and the WH tape of their meeting with Nixon later that day. Interestingly, the Road Map does not contain any reference to grand jury testimony by Haldeman or Ehrlichman about this meeting, which no doubt conflicted with Dean’s testimony.]
___________ – Nixon meets at 5:20pm later that afternoon with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean. They remain troubled by Hunt’s blackmail demand. The President seems to have concluded that the best way to protect themselves would be for them to release Hunt’s threatened information, thereby undercutting his threat to disclose this himself. Nixon’s idea was to call for a renewed investigation and require his staff to testify without claim of executive privilege. [This meeting is Road Map Item 9, which states “at the outset of which meeting several possible courses of action, i.e., testimony before a new grand jury or before an independent panel established to investigate all the facts, were rejected . . ,” citing only the WH tape transcript and Nixon’s Dictabelt recording. This is a patently incorrect characterization. They reject any idea of granting immunity in connection with such an initiative – as well as any idea of just doing nothing. The whole meeting is a struggle for what to do, in light of Hunt’s demands and Dean’s revelations of a cover-up. The entire tone of the meeting is that they have to do something, they just don’t know how to go about it. This is what they are going to discuss with Mitchell the following day. In addition, they clearly are unaware of LaRue’s conversation with Mitchell about Hunt’s demands.]
__________ – At 10pm that evening, a cash payment of $75,000 is made to William Bittman, Hunt’s criminal defense lawyer. [This payment is Road Map Item 10, citing grand jury testimony of LaRue (2/13/74, pp 2-6), Bittman (8/3/73, pp. 189-191, 194-196), Hunt (7/17/73, pp. 95, 111-112) and two others. This brings the total of such moneys paid to the burglary defendants or their counsel to $425,000. It also turns out to be the last of the monetary payments. The timing of the payment (coming the very evening after Dean’s meeting with Nixon) is alleged by WSPF prosecutors to be a direct result of Nixon’s order that Hunt’s blackmail demand be met. WSPF documents indicate that this is what they assured the grand jury and the HJC Impeachment Inquiry staff.]
March 22, 1973 – Mitchell meets with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean, which is where he tells them he believes Hunt is no longer a problem. [This meeting is Road Map Item 11, citing grand jury testimony by Dean (2/13/74, pp. 17-18), Haldeman (1/30/74, pp. 36-38) and Ehrlichman (9/13/73, pp. 67-73).]
_______ – Nixon again meets with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean – with Mitchell present for the first time – in his EOB office at about 2pm, to review situation. They decide that Dean will write a report, which Nixon will then use as the basis for saying new information has come to his attention, so he is calling for a renewed investigation and will require his staff to appear without claim of executive privilege. Dean agrees to go to Camp David to devote full attention to preparing that report. In a post-meeting conversation, Nixon attempts to explain his decision to Mitchell (which contains Nixon’s famous – and misunderstood – “Stonewall” quote). [This meeting is Road Map Item 12. Their description admits there was to be a Dean “report”, but it would state “that high White House officials were not involved in the Watergate break-in – on which the President could at a later time ‘rely’, if necessary,” citing the WH tape as evidence. A fair review of that tape would indicate the whole effort was to get the disclosure process started. [Note that if this scenario had played out – a Dean report on which Nixon would call for a renewed investigation without any claim of executive privilege, there would have been no major scandal involving WH personnel, but any such disclosures would have sunk Dean, who had committed any number of felonies while orchestrating the Cover-up. This is why he couldn’t write any such report and chose to retain criminal defense counsel and to seek a plea bargain with prosecutors instead.]
________ – Ehrlichman calls Krogh and tells him Hunt is quiet for the time being, so Krogh (who had authorized the Plumbers Break-in) should continue to “hang tough”. [This call is Road Map Item 12, citing pp. 10-11 of Krogh grand jury testimony of January 29, 1974.]
March 23, 1973 – Sentencing hearing is held by Judge Sirica that morning, where he dramatically reads McCord’s letter. While postponing McCord’s sentencing, other defendants are provisionally sentenced to maximum prison terms (up to 35 years), with possible reduction upon cooperation with prosecutors and Ervin Committee (as Dash has secretly urged). Liddy is sentenced to term of six years, eight months to twenty years. [McCord gets the message. He and his counsel meet with Dash to discuss his Ervin Committee appearance within an hour of the sentencing hearing.]
__________ – Dean goes to Camp David that afternoon, to prepare a report for President to use to call for renewed investigation. [This could be seen as a “Second” Dean Report. It is significant, since Dean later claimed that he’d never been asked to prepare any such Dean Report, yet he is clearly agreeing to do so on the tape.]
March 26, 1973 – McCord memo outlining what Liddy had told him about his campaign intelligence plan. [Memo seems to have been prepared for Silbert team, in connection with McCord’s forthcoming grand jury appearances.]
________ – Nixon instructs Ron Zeigler to express his confidence in Dean. [This event is Road Map Item 15, citing pp. 62-65 of Zeigler’s grand jury testimony of 2/12/74, as well as AP and UPI wire slips for this date. It could well be argued from this that it shows Nixon had no idea of Dean’s own criminal acts in running the Cover-up.]
March 27, 1973 – At Silbert’s request, Sirica grants Hunt immunity from further prosecution and he is brought back before the grand jury (where he can now no longer refuse to testify under the Fifth Amendment). [This is what Silbert had promised Hunt he would do all along. Hunt claims his Hermes notebooks, which he swears he had left in his EOB safe, will confirm all of his Plumber Unit actions were undertaken at direction of his WH superiors.]
________ – Nixon instructs Ehrlichman to brief Attorney General Kleindienst on Watergate issues that have come to light, which is done the following day.
________ – Magruder, concluding that their Cover-up has collapsed in light of McCord’s letter, panics and informs Dean of his decision to retain criminal defense counsel, asking Dean for recommendations.
March 28, 1973 – Dean is recalled from Camp David by Haldeman, when he admits he is unable to produce his promised report.
________ – At Nixon’s instruction, Ehrlichman calls Attorney General Kleindienst. [This call is Road Map Item 16. Its description says “Ehrlichman told Kleindienst that the President’s “best information” is that no one on the White House, but that serious questions were being raised about John Mitchell . . ,” citing Ehrlichman’s Dictabelt recording of their conversation. The WH is right that no one (other than Dean) knew of the Break-in plans in advance, but doesn’t appreciate that Dean’s allegations are shifting from those having knowledge of the Break-in to those he alleges participated in the Cover-up.]
________ – Dean retains Democrat insider Charles Shaffer as criminal defense counsel. [Shaffer had been personally recruited by Attorney General Robert Kennedy for his “Get Hoffa” squad at DOJ (where he teamed up with James Neal, who later headed WSPF’s Watergate Task Force, to prosecute two cases against Jimmy Hoffa) and was then personally dispatched to the Warren Commission staff by Robert Kennedy to ascertain whether organized crime had played any part in President Kennedy’s assassination. Dean could not have picked a lawyer who was better connected to the Kennedy political dynasty.]
________ – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury
________ – McCord meets with Ervin Committee in executive session (which soon leaks)
March 29, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury.
March 30, 1973 – Ehrlichman replaces Dean as head of internal Watergate investigation and begins to interview all the involved parties. [This event is Road Map Item 17, citing Ehrlichman’s July 27, 1973 Ervin Committee testimony. This is later seen by prosecutors as another overt act in the continuing Cover-up.]
________ – Zeigler reiterates in a WH press briefing that “no one in the White House had any involvement.” [This event is Road Map Item 18, citing pp. 71-72 of Ziegler’s 2/12/74 grand jury testimony. The Road Map’s description adds the words “in Watergate” at the end of the above Zeigler quote. A fair reading of the cited portion of Ziegler’s grand jury testimony shows he was talking only about the Break-in itself and not about any ensuing Cover-up – and that the real news of his announcement was that the President “wanted everyone in the White House and in the Administration to appear before the Grand Jury and we would do so before the Senate Watergate Committee.”]
April 1, 1973 – Magruder flies to Bermuda to meet with and retain Republican James Bierbower as his criminal defense counsel (upon Dean’s recommendation); informs Dean of his action.
__________ – Senator Weicker announces at press conference that CRP had paid someone to spy on nine Congressional offices in 1972.
April 2, 1973 – Shaffer has first meeting in career prosecutor’s office with Glanzer; perhaps triggered by Magruder confiding in Dean that he has retained counsel. Discussions center on Dean’s interest in obtaining immunity in exchange for his testimony. [Subsequent meetings occurred on April 5, 6, 12, 14 and 23—with numerous phone calls in-between. Note that Dean wins the race to first get to the prosecutors to bargain for immunity, but only because Magruder was informing him of his own actions and because the counsel Dean recommended to Magruder was away at a convention in Bermuda.]
April 3, 1973 – Senator Ervin announces an end to any further closed sessions of his Committee, due to leaks from McCord session on March 28th.
__________ – Magruder meets again with Mitchell and LaRue, seeking reassurance regarding their continuing to support his perjured testimony. [Afterwards, he and LaRue agree there is no sense in trying to protect Mitchell anymore and that both should approach career prosecutors to seek deals. Magruder’s panic and running around like Chicken Little – begging people to help support his perjured testimony – is what really causes the Cover-up to collapse.]
April 3, 1973 – Weicker publicly calls for Haldeman’s resignation due to broad range of alleged campaign abuses.
April 5, 1973 – Shaffer meets with Glanzer at his home late at night “on emergency basis”. Says Dean can “deliver Mitchell” and also “deliver Magruder”, not mentioning Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson or Nixon. Immunity discussions for Dean continue.
_________ – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury
_________ – Gray’s nomination as FBI Director is formally withdrawn.
_________ – Sirica grants McCord immunity from further prosecution and McCord begins testimony before grand jury. [Interestingly, prosecutors later say that McCord could not supply any specifics and was not believed by grand jurors. Thus, it was Magruder’s panic and not McCord’s letter that really triggered the Cover-up’s collapse. Regardless, it was Silbert’s decision (to prosecute those whom they could convict and then see if their story changed) that brought the pressure that ended the Cover-up.]
April 6, 1973 – Shaffer meets with Silbert and Glanzer at their offices. Again, their discussion centers on Dean’s interest in immunity in exchange for his testimony.
April 7, 1973 – Magruder again meets with Bierbower, but still resists telling his lawyer the whole truth.
April 8, 1973 – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell have first face-to-face meeting with Dean at Shaffer’s offices in Rockville, Maryland. [This is an off-the-record meeting to demonstrate Dean’s potential value as a witness–to whet their interest in granting him immunity. Dean mentions payments to the Break-in defendants, but does not characterize them as “hush money”, nor does he allege anything about a Cover-up until after being fired on April 30th. Subsequent meetings occurred on April 9 and 15. Shaffer is present throughout.]
April 9, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury.
_________ – The New York Times quotes sources as saying McCord has told grand jury that Ken Parkinson, CRP’s attorney, had channeled money to defendants after the Break-in.
_________ – Mollenhoff meets with Magruder, telling him that he cannot avoid being indicted. [Mollenhoff later claims this meeting is when he convinced Magruder to confess all to his newly retained counsel.]
_________ – (Evening) Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell again meet with Dean and Shaffer at Shaffer’s offices in Rockville, MD.
April 10, 1973 – Washington Post reports that McCord and the Cubans had received monthly payments in exchange for silence.
_________ – Magruder meets with Bierbower and his associate, Jim Sharp, fully disclosing his involvement with the Liddy campaign intelligence plan and subsequent Cover-up.
_________ – Shaffer telephones Silbert to say Dean is thinking of approaching Attorney General Kleindienst directly, to raise the idea of him getting a grant of immunity.
April 11, 1973 – Dwight Chapin and Gordon Strachan testify before grand jury.
_________ – (Evening) Sharp calls Silbert to discuss immunity for Magruder. [This is Magruder’s first contact with prosecutors. His dawdling has allowed Dean to get there a full week ahead, on April 2nd.]
April 12, 1973 – Washington Post reports McCord has testified that Liddy told him that wiretap transcripts had been provided to Mitchell.
___________ – Dean’s Blind Ambition quotes Shaffer at p. 253 as saying on or about April 12th, that Dean has got to allege a conspiracy to cover-up, in order to make himself indispensable, since the prosecutors had refused to grant him immunity and were targeting him for involvement in the Break-in itself.
Dean: Goddammit, Charlie. I don’t want to meet with those bastards.
Shaffer: Listen, John, we don’t have any choice. The cat’s out of the bag. We’ve got to pump them full of the cover up now. I’ve got to up the ante with them to have a shot at immunity. That’s your only chance not to be the fall guy.
Dean: I think your strategy of getting immunity is more important than ever now.
Here, Dean and his lawyer realize prosecutors have concluded that Dean’s Cover-up role is too significant for them to give him immunity, so he changes his story from “I can give you Mitchell and Magruder” to “there was a conspiracy to cover all this up and I am the only witness who can link it to Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Nixon.” This change also is alluded to in the 11/15/73 Denny/Rient memo, discussed infra. This is key to whether the Cover-up defendants received a fair trial, because this change in Dean’s story was not disclosed to their defense counsel, as required by Brady v Maryland.]
_________ – Bierbower and Sharp meet with Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell to discuss immunity for Magruder in exchange for his testimony.
_________ – Shaffer meets with Glanzer and Silbert, confides Dean’s embezzlement of CRP campaign funds (of some $4,000), saying he wants them to hear it from him before they learned it from Strachan.
April 13, 1973 – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell meet with Magruder at Bierbower’s offices. [Meeting includes an overview presented by Magruder on an off-the-record basis as an indication of his value as a witness. Silbert calls Sharp that evening to offer a plea to a single felony count, which is accepted by Magruder later that night. Magruder has now leap-frogged over Dean, to be the first to achieve a plea bargain – but Magruder is not a lawyer and has not retained one who is as wise in the ways of political Washington, as is Dean’s.]
________ – This is also when Dean first reveals details of the Fielding Break-in, which triggers the Kleindienst/Petersen meeting with RN on Sunday, April 15th.
April 14, 1973 – (Saturday) Ehrlichman delivers the report on his own Watergate investigation to Nixon, with Haldeman present. He meets with Kleindienst the following day to share the same information with him.
_________ – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell spend five hours at Bierbower’s offices debriefing Magruder, who then goes to WH to meet with Ehrlichman, where he volunteers details of his cooperation with prosecutors.
_________ – (Evening) Henry Petersen, head of the Criminal Division, confers with U.S. Attorney Harold Titus, Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell; learns of Dean and Magruder allegations concerning Mitchell, Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Petersen drafts “brief statement” for Nixon, which he then discusses with Kleindienst.
_________ – Shaffer later meets with Glanzer at his home to discuss various developments in Watergate case. [Shaffer’s exceptionally close friendship with Glanzer is troubling, as is his even closer relationship with James Neal, who becomes head of WSPF’s Watergate Task Force. Largely because of these connections, Dean’s role is really never closely investigated.]
April 15, 1973 – (Sunday) Petersen and Kleindienst meet face-to-face with Nixon, where they present their “brief statement,” describing Magruder and Dean allegations and urge immediate discharge of Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Kleindienst recuses himself from further involvement due to his closeness with Mitchell. [This event is Road Map Item, citing pp. 2-12 of Petersen’s 2/5/74 grand jury testimony, as well as pp. 68-72 of his 8/23/73 testimony; an excerpt of pp. 29-30 from prosecutors’ transcribed interview with him on 5/29/73, Nixon’s own meeting notes, and the WH tape of the meeting itself.]
_________ – Nixon holds a series of meetings between 4/15 and 4/30/73 with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and their attorneys. [These meetings are Road Map Item 25, citing as evidence their logs, as well as the President’s Daily Diary. The Road Map contains no description of what was said at these meetings, only noting that they occurred – but, of course, virtually all of them would have been recorded.]
_________ – Magruder meets with Paul O’Brien, another CRP lawyer, volunteering details of his cooperation with career prosecutors; O’Brien gets him to “X” a statement clearing O’Brien. O’Brien telephones Silbert; Silbert telephones Sharp to instruct him to shut Magruder up. Silbert states they want Magruder to enter plea the following Tuesday (April 17th). Concern is that Sirica may incarcerate Magruder immediately, so they agree to discuss again the next day. [Due to fear of immediate incarceration by Sirica if he pleads guilty, Magruder does not formally enter his guilty plea until August 16th].
_________ – Dean and Shaffer meet in the afternoon with Silbert and Glanzer at Shaffer’s office. [Silbert announces he has informed Petersen of Dean’s allegations.]
________ – Dean meets that evening with Nixon. [This meeting is Road Map Item 20, the description of which asserts Nixon “told Dean that the President had been ‘joking’ about the million dollars and that the President had been foolish to talk with Charles Colson about clemency for E. Howard Hunt,” citing as proof the President’s Daily Diary for that date, pp. 20-24 from Dean’s 2/14/74 grand jury testimony and Nixon’s own hand-scribbled notes. There is no WH recording of this meeting, apparently because the President was not expected to return to the EOB office and the recorder ran out of tape, so the only details of what is alleged to have been said comes from Dean’s own testimony.]
_________ – At about 11:45pm, Nixon calls Petersen, but from a Residence phone which was not a part of the recoding system, so again there is no tape. [This call is Road Map Item 21, with cited evidence from grand jury testimony of Petersen (2/5/74, pp. 24-275/3/73, pp. 177-179), and Gray (7/20/73, pp. 113-118) and Nixon’s Daily Diary for this date.]
April 16, 1973 – David Young, co-head of Plumber Unit, testifies before the grand jury concerning the Fielding Break-in. [Young cooperates with prosecutors from the outset. He is given immunity and never indicted for his role. Later, he frustrates WSPF Plumber Task Force members, because he continues to insist (and to testify) that the government had every right to search Fielding’s files on Ellsberg in the name of national security. He does not defend the method they used, which he says was not his responsibility; only that the government had a right to do so.]
_________ – LaRue meets with Silbert and confesses his role in Cover-up. [Among other things, LaRue had acted as paymaster, disbursing monetary payments to defendants and their counsel.]
_________ – Silbert informs Petersen of Fielding Break-in.
_________ – (Morning) Dean meets with Nixon, discusses case developments and the form of his letter of resignation. [This meeting is Road Map Item 22, citing the WH tape, as well as grand jury testimony by Haldeman (which remains redacted) and p. 10 of Petersen’s testimony of 2/5/74. The entire tone of this taped conversation suggests Dean was certain that Nixon knew no more about the Cover-up than Dean had told him on March 21st.]
_________ – Petersen meets with Nixon to discuss possible immunity for Dean, which Nixon rejects as improper for any senior staff member. Petersen urges Nixon to meet with Dean. [Nixon’s motive in rejecting any immunity deals for any of his staff has been questioned: Was he really interested in no one getting off easily or was he intent on preserving his pardon authority as the only possible out for staff members?]
_________ – (Afternoon) Dean meets with Nixon for last time. [This meeting is Road Map Item 23, with the WH tape cited as the only evidence. Nixon later claims to Petersen that this was where Dean stated that he’d already been promised immunity (which Petersen denies to Nixon).]
April 17, 1973 – At news conference, Nixon announces “major new developments” in Watergate case and states that WH staff will appear voluntarily before Ervin Committee, under oath and without claim of executive privilege. He also discloses his meetings with Petersen, states new developments with real progress are being made in the investigation and implies that indictments are imminent. He adds that he has expressed the view that immunity should not be given to current or past members of his administration. [A little late, but this is what Nixon had wanted to do after his March 21st meeting with Dean, when he first learned any specifics regarding the cover-up. Road Map Item 51 takes issue with Nixon’s statement that he’d met with Kleindienst and Petersen on 4/15/73 “to review the facts which had come to me in my investigation, citing Petersen’s grand jury testimony (8/23/73, pp. 68-69 and 2/5/73, p. 7]
April 18, 1973 – Nixon telephones Petersen, who discloses knowledge of Plumbers Break-in and urges Nixon to disclose details to Judge Byrne, then presiding over the Ellsberg prosecution in California. Nixon rejects the idea at this time and instructs Petersen not to investigate the Plumbers Break-in. [The string of some nineteen conversations Nixon had with Petersen constitute Road Map Item 24, citing the President’s logs, as well as Petersen’s grand jury testimony (2/5/74, pp 12-23and 8/23/73, pp. 71-75). Road Map Item 26 specifically notes Nixon’s instruction to Petersen, citing pp. 73-75 of Petersen’s 8/23/73 grand jury testimony, as well as p. 5 of Nixon’s public statement of 5/22/73.]
_________ – LaRue testifies before grand jury.
April 19, 1973 – Nixon meets with Petersen for an hour, who again urges disclosure to Judge Byrne. Kleindienst calls to concur and Nixon ultimately concedes.
_________ – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury.
_________ – Dean issues statement that he “will not be a scapegoat” in Watergate scandal. [Denny handwritten notes have the original prosecutors remembering this, saying, “Dean becomes antagonistic to E & H, whereas before he had given impression the H was clean & was restrained as to E’s involvement. This was around time of “scapegoat” statement by Dean.” Again, this substantial change in Dean’s story was never shared with defense counsel, as clearly required by law.]
________ – Glanzer telephones Shaffer to confirm that no immunity deal has been reached for Dean (as requested by Petersen following his Nixon meeting). Silbert writes memo to Petersen confirming that no deal on immunity has been reached with Dean.
April 20, 1973 – Mitchell and Kalmbach testify before grand jury.
_________ – Nixon twice talks with Petersen by phone.
_________ – Shaffer telephones Silbert to say that the Ervin Committee’s Dash has called and wants to meet with Dean on an informal basis. [This is Shaffer’s way of playing the prosecutors off against the Ervin Committee, to see who will give his client the best immunity deal.]
_________ – Washington Post and The New York Times run separate stories reporting payments were made to Watergate defendants.
_________ – Ehrlichman and Haldeman jointly retain John Wilson as their criminal defense counsel.
April, 1973 – Sometime during the last half of April, Petersen takes me to lunch and confides, in strictest confidence, that Haldeman and Ehrlichman are “going down” and urging me to keep clear.
April 22, 1973 – (Sunday) Dean vacates his WH office over the weekend, apparently boxing up many counsel files for later sharing with career prosecutors in his attempt to bargain for personal immunity. [Some of these files (which are later characterized by Mitchell as the “White House Horrors”) are given to Sirica. When WH seeks their return, he orders copies distributed to prosecutors and to the Ervin Committee. NB: Dean’s departure could have occurred the week prior.]
April 23 1973 – Nixon speaks three times with Petersen by phone.
_________ – Under District Court order in a separate civil suit, CRP’s Finance Committee is required to turn over lists of pre-April 7, 1972 campaign contributions (disclosure of which had not been required under federal law). [The existence of this list is later used by WSPF prosecutors to justify why they only went after CRP donors and not Humphrey campaign donors (where they claimed that they had no ascertainable list)]
_________ – (Evening) Shaffer meets with Silbert and Glanzer. Glanzer later tells WSPF prosecutors, “By this time, discussions had turned into a political game. Dean was bargaining with Senate for immunity and the prosecutor’s attempts at agreeing on a plea were in vain.” [Denny/Rient memo]
April 24, 1973 – Nixon talks with Petersen by phone.
_________I get call from Ehrlichman about this time, who is in the Oval Office with RN, inquiring about someone named “Sheppard”.
April 25, 1973 – Nixon talks with Petersen by phone, during which Petersen tells him that Ray Sheppard is something of a conman and is going before the grand jury the next day. He assures RN that he doesn’t work on the WH staff.
________ – At Nixon’s instruction, Haldeman listens to WH tape recordings, including their 3/21/73 meeting with Dean – and reports his findings to Nixon. [This event is Road Map Item 27, citing pp. 25-31 of Haldeman’s 1/30/74 grand jury testimony, as well as his own notes from listening to the 3/21 tape.]
April 26, 1973 – Press stories appear claiming Gray had destroyed documents given to him by Dean and Ehrlichman.
________ – Nixon twice talks with Petersen by phone, as well as Kleindienst. The later call contains a discussion about Pay Gray. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-Grj0XyC4
_________ – Magruder resigns from Department of Commerce.
April 27, 1973 – Nixon twice talks with Petersen by phone.
_________ – Gray resigns as Acting FBI Director; WH announces nomination of Bill Ruckelshaus as replacement.
_________ – Ehrlichman interviewed by FBI about Fielding Break-in, results of which are later released to Judge Byrne.
April 28, 1973 – Nixon twice speaks with Petersen by phone. [After some nineteen such discussions, in person or by phone, Petersen succeeds in convincing Nixon that he has to terminate Haldeman and Ehrlichman.]
April 29. 1973 – Shaffer calls Glanzer at home to discuss status of Watergate case.
April 30, 1973 – Nixon announces resignations of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Kleindienst, as well as Dean’s termination, and the nomination of Elliott Richardson, then Secretary of Defense, as his new Attorney General. Nixon adds that he has given Richardson permission to appoint “a special supervising prosecutor”. [Nixon knows that Richardson has presidential ambitions, but has been totally uninvolved in the burgeoning scandal. He needs Richardson’s reputation as “Mr. Clean”, but also believes that positioning someone between him and Henry Petersen might be helpful, especially when determining just who is going to be indicted. This idea boomerangs on Nixon, as Richardson quickly cedes all supervision to a totally independent special prosecutor, whose office recruits almost a hundred people, all of whom are anti-Nixon.]
________ – One of the four Road Map sections seeks to show that Nixon’s public statements were not factually accurate. Thus, Road Map Item 48 asserts that Nixon’s statement that, as a result of what he’d learned on 3/21/73, he’d ordered “that all persons in the Government or at the Re-election Committee should cooperate fully with the FBI, prosecutors, and the Grand Jury,” was not true, citing WH tapes of the morning and afternoon meetings of 3/21/73/73. They further claim at Road Map Item 49 that this is not what he called for in his afternoon meeting of 3/22/73. The tapes are now publicly available; opinions can reasonably differ as to Nixon’s statements, based on an actual reading of the transcripts themselves.]
_________ – Krogh takes leave of absence as Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Young resigns from NSC, and Strachan resigns as general counsel of USIA.
_________ – U.S. Attorney Titus forwards Silbert’s memo to Richardson, saying Watergate case is being vigorously pursued and urging that career prosecutors remain in charge.
V. Ervin Committee and Special Prosecutor Investigations
Dean’s criminal defense lawyer, Charles Shaffer, whom Glanzer describes as “a brilliant and resourceful attorney,” strings prosecutors along while he negotiates an immunity deal with the Ervin Committee. That Committee, in turn, will make Dean out to be a hero, in order to add drama to its hearings and to justify its grant of immunity.
The need to confirm a new Attorney General comes back to bite Nixon, when the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Ted Kennedy, refuses to confirm Richardson unless he appoints a special prosecutor of their choice (who turns out to be Archibald Cox), who is to be given “total and unreviewed independence” from DOJ.
This absolute power quickly becomes abused, as Cox (who had been an integral part of JFK’s 1960 campaign, served as solicitor general under RFK, and counselled Ted Kennedy during his lead opposition to Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees) hires more than fifteen of his former colleagues from the Kennedy/Johnson DOJ, who announce their intent to investigate every aspect of the Nixon administration.
What followed was a constitutional inversion, where the very lawyers who were removed from office by Nixon’s 1968 election now wielded independent authority to investigate and prosecute the duly elected administration, which was powerless to stop them or even to launch investigations of its own.
Highly partisan Watergate Special Prosecution Force prosecutors quickly bought into the “Dean as hero” approach, since he is their only path to reaching Nixon and his top aides. They also played Sirica like a fiddle, getting him to buy into the idea of Dean’s relative lack of culpability.
May 1, 1973 – Summary of Ehrlichman’s 4/27 FBI interview is given to Ellsberg counsel by Judge Byrne, who then make it public.
_________ – Dash cheers up Ervin Committee staff, who fear the announced resignations have co-opted the Ervin hearings, by pointing out there have been no indictments and that any trials are a long way off. [Later, suspicions are raised that WSPF prosecutors deliberately held off the Cover-up Indictments for ten months, so that the Ervin Committee could continue with its more politicized “legislative trial.”]
May 2, 1973 – The New York Times reports Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell, Dean, Magruder and LaRue had coordinated the Cover-up and that all were expected to be indicted in the near future.
_________ – Hunt continues and Magruder begins to testify before grand jury.
_________ – Members of Senate Judiciary Committee publicly call on Richardson to appoint a special prosecutor (as offered by Nixon in his April 30th speech).
_________ – Ervin Committee votes to request Richardson make raw FBI files available to all Committee members. [Weicker had been precluded under Kleindienst’s prior decision to only allow access to the chairman and ranking member. This put Weicker in a far better position to learn more about the FBI’s investigation – and to leak his discoveries.]
_________ – Judge Byrne acknowledges having had second meeting with Ehrlichman and confirms their discussion centered on his possible appointment as FBI Director.
_________ – Ehrlichman submits to second FBI interview concerning Fielding Break-in.
_________ – (Evening) Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell meet with Dean and Shaffer at Shaffer’s Rockville office from 9:30pm to 2am. [They later say that it was at this meeting that Dean first began to focus on Nixon, “thus changing dramatically from his previous stance.” See Denny/Rient memo. Again, the lack of disclosure to defense counsel of this change in Dean’s testimony stains the impartiality of the entire Cover-up prosecution. This is also the timeframe where Dean voluntarily discloses other events, unconnected with Watergate, in his pursuit of immunity, which become known as the “White House Horrors.” They also include the NSC Wiretaps, the Huston Plan, the Dairy Price Supports, and the Townhouse Project)].
May 3, 1973 – Ehrlichman and Haldeman testify before grand jury. [Ehrlichman, at pp. 177-179, is cited as Road Map’s Item 21.2 to confirm Nixon’s 11:45pm call on April 15th to Petersen.]
_________ – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell again meet with Dean at Shaffer’s Rockville office. Shaffer says Dean has highly classified documents that were in his possession when he was terminated (probably another reference to the White House Horrors, particularly the Huston Plan and the NSC wiretaps). Prosecutors decline to grant Dean any immunity, saying his best course of action is to appear before the grand jury and tell his story. [This is key. After all is said and done, Silbert and his team of career prosecutors decline to enter into a plea bargain with Dean, since they have concluded that his role was so central to the wrongdoing. The Ervin Committee, desperate for its own witnesses, along with the highly politicized special prosecutors brought in later, will reach the opposite conclusion. They see Dean as their only path to reaching Haldeman, Ehrlichman and the President himself.]
_________ – (Evening) Weicker meets with Dean and Shaffer at Shaffer’s Rockville office. Dash says Shaffer later admitted purpose of meeting was to feel Weicker out about getting immunity for Dean from the Ervin Committee. [Immunity grants required a 2/3rds vote by Committee members, so Weicker’s role, as a Republican appointee who consistently sided with the Democrats, was critical. Weicker, who was already Dean’s neighbor in Old Town Alexandria, later bought Dean’s home, enabling Dean to relocate to Los Angeles.]
May 4, 1973 – Weicker approaches Dash and Ervin with startling revelations from Dean about the two meetings in Mitchell’s office concerning Liddy’s intelligence plan.
_________ – Frampton’s inventory of prosecutorial documents notes McCord gave a statement about “’pressure” on him to plead guilty, to avoid any reason for the Break-in Trial to be held at all.
_________ – Dean files document with Sirica containing keys to safe deposit box, which he says contains Watergate-related documents (which appear to be counsel files he purloined from Ehrlichman’s old files that had been stored in Dean’s WH office.).
_________ – Ervin Committee staff interviews Ehrlichman in executive session, prepares 33-page summary, which is leaked on July 11th.
_________ – Ervin Committee staff interviews Haldeman in executive session, summary of which is leaked on July 13th.
_________ – Donald Segretti, CRP’s dirty trickster, is indicted in Orlando on two counts of distributing false campaign literature.
_________ – (Evening) Shaffer calls Glanzer at home to inform him that Dean will not testify before grand jury the following day, as had been agreed, stating that he will testify instead before the Ervin Committee under a grant of immunity.
May 5, 1973 – Alexander Haig, then the Army’s vice chief of staff, becomes “temporary” WH chief of staff.
May 7, 1973 – Ervin writes Richardson, asking him to allow any Committee member or their staff to have access to summary FBI reports on Watergate investigations.
_________ – Newsweek reports that Dean will testify that he now believes Nixon knew of the Cover-up.
_________ – Richardson announces decision to appoint a special prosecutor, offering Senate Judiciary Committee the opportunity to evaluate and informally confirm his choice.
May 8, 1973 – Ervin Committee holds tentative vote to grant Dean immunity. Weicker supplies critical Republican vote necessary to achieve required two-thirds majority
_________ – Ervin Committee announces public hearings will begin May 17 and that it will compel testimony from Dean under grant of immunity.
_________ – Colson interviewed by FBI about Plumbers Break-in.
_________ – Columbia University awards Pulitzer Prize to Washington Post for its 1972 Watergate coverage.
May 9, 1973 – In testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee on his confirmation, Richardson originally insists on retaining ultimate responsibility for overseeing work of special prosecutor, but later is forced to recede.
_________ – Ehrlichman again testifies before grand jury.
_________ – Krogh officially resigns as Undersecretary of the Department of Transportation (following revelations about his role as co-head of the Plumbers Unit and its Fielding Break-in).
_________ – Washington Post reports Garment (who has replaced Dean as Counsel to the President) has begun legal efforts to retrieve sensitive WH files taken by Dean.
_________ – Ervin Committee releases tentative list of witnesses (in expected order) including Rob Odle, McCord, Hunt, Liddy, Magruder, Colson, Dean, Herb Kalmbach, Maurice Stans, Mitchell, Gray, Ehrlichman and Haldeman.
_________ – (Evening) Nixon makes speech to “New Majority” fundraising dinner in DC, the text of which is released to public.
_________ – (Evening) Dash meets Dean and Shaffer in Shaffer’s Rockville office. Meeting lasts until 2am. [Both later claim this is their first meeting, which is problematic since Silbert’s memo places Ervin Committee competition over Dean as emerging on or about April 20th. Discussion is said to center on importance of Dean having immunity, which also is doubtful since Ervin Committee held informal vote granting such immunity the day prior. Perhaps the effort here is to avoid admitting that Dean’s lawyer was bargaining with Committee for immunity while he was still employed as Counsel to the President.]
May 10, 1973 – Dean issues statement through counsel that he will testify truthfully, saying WH did have discussions about ending Watergate, but they always ended in the decision not to tell the truth. [Here, the false impression is created that Dean was advocating full disclosure, when he was actually the one resisting, because it would highlight his role as leading the Cover-up. There were many opportunities, as the scandal grew worse, where WH disclosure would have been beneficial. Ehrlichman in particular was an advocate of disclosures concerning the Fielding Break-in, but this was always resisted by Dean.]
_________ – Senator Ervin characterizes public hearings (to begin on May 17th) as “the most important investigation ever entrusted to the Congress.”
_________ – Mitchell and Stans indicted by a New York-based grand jury in the Robert Vesco case. [Vesco was accused of making a $200,000 campaign contribution to CRP, in exchange for the SEC being lenient in its investigation of his Investors Overseas Services].
_________ – Fred Buzhardt, former general counsel of Department of Defense, is named special counsel to the President, concentrating solely on Watergate matters.
_________ – Dash calls Silbert, who complains about leaks from Ervin Committee critical of Silbert’s investigation, as well as publication of Dash comments concerning their April 20th meeting that was to be off-the-record. Leaks are attributed to Terry Lenzner of Dash’s staff. Dash also tells Silbert that the Committee will proceed with public hearings, but states this may be re-evaluated if Cover-up indictments are forthcoming. [Indictments would have ended any idea of defendants testifying before the Ervin Committee, which is probably why WSPF prosecutors held off issuing them for ten months – well after the Ervin Committee had held its own “legislative trial”.]
_________ – Summary of Colson’s May 8th FBI interview is given to Ellsberg defense counsel by Judge Byrne, who then make it public.
_________ – (Evening) Dash again meets with Dean and Shaffer in Shaffer’s Rockville office. Meeting again lasts until 2am.
May 11, 1973 – Judge Byrne dismisses all charges against Ellsberg, due to “government misconduct”.
May 13, 1973 – Jack Caulfield takes leave of absence from Treasury, where he had been Assistant Director of ATF.
_________ – Dash again meets with Dean and Shaffer in Shaffer’s Rockville office.
May 14, 1973 – Newsweek prints interview with Dean, in which he denies ever being asked to render any Dean Report to Nixon (as had been announced by the President on August 29, 1972). [It seems clear that Dean was asked, immediately following the Break-in arrests, if anyone on the WH staff had been involved. One could reasonably argue that his assurance that no one had been (while inaccurate) might be characterized as a Dean Report. Dean’s point may have been that he had submitted nothing in writing.]
_________ – Sirica takes possession of offered portion of Dean’s WH counsel papers, orders copies given to prosecutors and to Ervin Committee. [Again, these seem to concern the infamous “White House Horrors,” which have nothing to do with the Watergate burglary itself.]
_________ – Richardson informs Senate Judiciary of four names under consideration (Harold Tyler, David Peck, both then Federal Judges in New York; William Erickson of Colorado Supreme Court, and Warren Christopher, former Deputy Attorney General in Johnson Administration). [He adds that he is in no way discussing this appointment with anyone at the WH.]
_________ – Ehrlichman and Haldeman again testify before grand jury.
May 15, 1973 – Richardson informs Senate Judiciary that Judge Tyler has turned down the special prosecutor position.
_________ – Ervin Committee formally votes to ask Sirica to grant Dean immunity to testify before that committee. [This is believed to be the very first use of Congressional immunity, which was a crime-fighting innovation included in the Organized Crime Prevention Act of 1970, which Dean had worked on while he was at DOJ.]
_________ – Dash meets with Dean and Shaffer at Dean’s home in Old Town Alexandria.
May 16, 1973 – Richardson informs Senate Judiciary that Christopher has turned down the special prosecutor position, due to lack of total independence. [Judiciary committee members are quoted as saying his nomination is in trouble, and he cannot be confirmed without agreeing to total independence for a special prosecutor.]
_________ – Dash writes Silbert requesting all materials developed in their investigation into thirty named individuals be provided to Ervin Committee staff.
_________ – Buzhardt meets at DOJ with Petersen, Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell to discuss prosecutor’s demands for WH documents and any recorded phone conversations.
_________ – Dash again meets with Dean and Shaffer in Dean’s home in Old Town Alexandria. [In his later book, Dash boasts about having helped to draft Dean’s 240-page opening statement before the Ervin Committee during these meetings. The Committee’s political decision to cast Dean as the hero of Watergate, in contrast to the original prosecutors’ decision not to, has had long term impact on our misunderstanding of the Watergate scandal.]
_________ – Young testifies before grand jury.
May 17, 1973 – First day of public hearings by Ervin Committee; Odle and Kehrli testify as to CRP and WH organization. [Sheppard’s name comes up in first question of Kehrli, but it is Roy Sheppard, a mysterious currier for CRP.]
_________ – Richardson offers special prosecutor position to Archibald Cox, who is reported by Boston Globe to have been Edward Kennedy’s choice all along.
May 18, 1973 – McCord testifies before Ervin Committee.
_________ – Cox informs Richardson he will accept the position, as long as he has unlimited scope to investigate and is not constrained solely to investigating Watergate. Richardson announces proposed appointment to Senate Judiciary Committee.
_________ – Petersen circulates memo to all Criminal Division section chiefs, requesting identification of matters that could fall within Special Prosecutor’s jurisdiction.
May 19, 1973 – Richardson submits agreed-upon Guidelines to Senate Judiciary Committee, promising special prosecutor will have “full, unreviewed independence”. [The result is constitutionally suspect: it will soon become apparent that what Richardson has done is to cede to a team of some hundred people, led by Democrats from the Kennedy/Johnson DOJ, the unfettered right to investigate the entire Nixon presidency, which they proceed to do. Indeed, Vorenberg announced at their first press conference that they would investigate every allegation of wrong-doing made against the Nixon administration – and asked the public to submit any suggestions.]
_________ – GAO reports that Kalmbach raised at least $210,000 for Watergate defendants, plus transfer of $350,000 from the WH.
__________ – Ervin Committee applies for use immunity for Dean and Magruder. Cox sought to condition this grant on their testifying in Executive Session, but lost.
May 20, 1973 – Ervin on ABC’s Issues and Answers criticizes DOJ for waiting until after the election to bring the Break-in defendants to trial – neglecting to mention that this was Judge Sirica’s decision, who refused to allow his back injury to interfere with his intent to preside over the Break-in Trial.
May 21, 1973 – Senator Symington releases Vernon Walter’s CIA memo describing the June 23, 1972 meeting at the WH, wherein the CIA was asked to request the FBI postpone interviews of Ken Dahlberg and David Ogarrio. [This shows that the effort to get the CIA to influence the FBI investigation was well known before release of the Smoking Gun tape over a year later. The only item not publicly known was Nixon’s own involvement in the decision to contact the CIA.]
_________ – Richardson and Cox appear jointly before Senate Judiciary Committee to review and discuss special prosecutor position, as well as the proposed Guidelines for the Special Prosecutor.
_________ – Petersen sends Silbert the Office of Legal Counsel’s analysis of resolution of any disputes between Legislative and Executive Branches regarding grants of immunity.
__________ – Mitchell and Stans plead not guilty in Vesco matter in NYC
May 22, 1973 – Third day of Ervin Committee hearings, continuation of McCord, plus Caulfield.
_________ – Nixon issues 4,000-word statement, admitting a Cover-up had occurred, but denying any personal complicity or knowledge of payments to Watergate defendants. [This statement is Road Map Item 44, citing presidential statements of this date, as well as August 15 and August 22, along with transcript pages 17, 18, 58 and 61 of the transcript from Nixon’s 3/21/73 meeting with Dean. Dean clearly tells Nixon about payments to the defendants, but Nixon’s denial is in knowing about this before this Dean meeting. Nixon also asserted that he was unaware of any offer of clemency to the Watergate defendants. This statement is Road Map Item 45, with prosecutors citing his statements and toying with the idea of clemency at some point.]
_________ – Silbert replies to Dash that DOJ has policy of not turning grand jury information over to Congress without court approval, but says ultimate decision will be made by Cox after assuming office. [This later will be a key issue in the propriety of the grand jury’s transmittal of the Road Map to the House of Representatives in March, 1974.]
_________ – Titus letter to Dean saying he is target of grand jury investigation and there will be no grant of immunity by DOJ. Titus offers a deal on single felony count, which Dean rejects.
_________ – The New York Times reports that Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell are posed to resign over appointment of Special Prosecutor, but have postponed such action pending their meeting with Cox, which is scheduled for following day.
May 22-23, 1973 – Ehrlichman gives 187-page deposition in DNC v McCord civil suit, which is made public on June 5th.
May 23, 1973 – Fourth day of Ervin Committee hearings (Caulfield, Tony Ulasewicz, Gerald Alch).
_________ – Senate Judiciary Committee votes to recommend Richardson’s confirmation as Attorney General.
_________ – Cox meets with Titus, Silbert, et al, telling them they need to stay until he is up to speed.
May 24, 1973 – Fifth day of Ervin Committee hearings (Alch, Bernard Barker, Alfred Baldwin).
_________ – Petersen forwards his section chief reports, identifying possible pending cases of interest to a special prosecutor, to Cox.
_________ – Titus issues press release announcing the career prosecutors had met with Cox and been urged to stay on the Watergate case, adding that a comprehensive indictment could be expected within 60-90 days. [Point here is that the Cover-up investigation was all but finished before Cox’s appointment as Special Prosecutor, who then politicized the entire investigation. WSPF prosecutors quickly removed the career prosecutors and also postponed any Cover-up indictments for ten months, while they investigated all other aspects of the Nixon presidency.]
_________ – DOJ later releases Cox letter to Titus saying “as soon as I have taken office in the Department, I would of course expect to be consulted before any decisions are made”. [Cox is legitimately worried that the career prosecutors, who’ve already broken the Cover-up, will seek indictments and undercut his entire purpose before Cox even has a chance to get started.]
May 25, 1973 – Richardson is sworn in as Attorney General at a WH ceremony. He immediately appoints Cox as Special Prosecutor in a subsequent ceremony at DOJ, which is attended by Ethel Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy and top Kennedy assistant, James Flug.
_________ – Cox memo to Petersen requesting copies of records of any instructions, oral or written, to Titus concerning Watergate investigation. [Cox is seeking assurance that the U.S. Attorney has not been given approval to proceed with indictments.]
_______ – Senator Herman Tallmadge (Ervin Committee member) tells reporters the Committee should focus on question of Nixon’s involvement and remove the cloud of uncertainty – in contrast with Chairman Ervin, who was reported to favor a more gradual, circumspect development of the evidence. [Dash later wrote that he was advised by Senator Kennedy’s staff, who had been conducting their own investigation since the previous September, that the Ervin Committee should go slowly, to let pressures build against Nixon. WSPF prosecutors soon reach that same conclusion.]
May 27, 1973 – Cox meets with fellow Harvard Law professors, James Vorenberg and Philip Heymann, who become his top lieutenants as Associate Special Prosecutors.
May 28, 1973 – (Memorial Day Monday) Cox’s first meeting with members of the press (Neiman Fellows’ reunion at Harvard, including both Anthony Lewis and James Doyle). Later, he spends the afternoon in a review session with Vorenberg, Heymann and Flug, who advocates a wide scope for WSPF investigations. [Vorenberg’s extensive notes from this afternoon session are among his papers at the Harvard Law Library.]
_________ – Release of Newsweek magazine (dated June 4), which reports grand jury has agreed to indict Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Magruder.
May 29, 1973 – Cox, Flug, Vorenberg and Heymann return to Washington, DC. James Neal arrives from Tennessee. [Neal is close friend of Dean’s lawyer, Charles Shaffer. They both served in DOJ’s “Get Hoffa” Squad and tried two cases in Tennessee against Hoffa. It is possible that it was Shaffer who recommended Neal be retained as lead WSPF trial counsel. The closeness of these two lawyers assured that Dean would receive special treatment by WSPF prosecutors. After all, Dean is seen as only path to Nixon, so WSPF prosecutors fully buy into his story.]
_________ – Newly arrived prosecutors conduct a transcribed interview with Petersen, regarding his involvement. [This interview is Road Map Item 19.2, citing pp. 29-30, where he describes his 4/15/73 meeting with Nixon, where he and Kleindienst relay Dean/Magruder allegations and urge the termination of Haldeman and Ehrlichman.]
_________ – (circa) Cox letter to Titus, et al, concerning reporting relationships. Earlier draft shows Cox had “explicitly disapproved” Titus issuing any statement (which instruction Titus had ignored).
May 31, 1973 – Memorandum to Cox from John Hart Ely, another HLS colleague, discussing whether a sitting president can be indicted while still in office and deciding in the affirmative.
June 4, 1973 – Nixon listens to a number of WH tapes and then speaks to Haig. [This event is Road Map Item 28, citing as Attachment 28.1 the tape of his conversation with Haig on this same date.]
June 6 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury
________ – Cox submits a 13-page brief to Sirica, who is hearing Ervin Committee’s application for Dean’s immunity, urging he condition approval on their ending public hearings, so that they don’t taint the jury pool and make the Cover-up case un-prosecutable. Sirica, who has already called for the Ervin Committee’s creation, says they will face that potential problem whenever indictments are handed down. [Cox’s main point, that public hearings will taint the jury pool, is most valid – but airily dismissed as a concern by Sirica, both at this point and when the indictments are handed down some ten months later.]
June 8, 1973 – Colson and Ehrlichman continue to testify before grand jury
June 12, 1973 – Sirica formally orders use immunity for Dean and Magruder, as voted by the Ervin Committee.
[There is a great paragraph in Ben-Veniste’s book, Stonewall, at page 107, that describes Cox’s total distain for Dean.]
June 14, 1973 – Magruder testifies before Ervin Committee under grant of immunity.
June 15, 1973 – First WSPF press conference, wherein Vorenberg states “Many leads and suggestions have come to us . . . we will pursue them all. We are, at the outset, taking a broad view of the Special Prosecutor’s jurisdiction.” [One of the key WSPF actions was postponing the Cover-up indictments (which had been predicted by career prosecutions in 60-90 days) for almost ten months, so that the Ervin Committee hearings could go forward unimpeded. Once indicted, key people would refuse to appear before the Committee. Before that, it was free to conduct what amounted to a legislative trial, where witnesses testified under oath, but had no due process rights, such as confronting their accusers.]
________ – Cox formally appoints Neal to head the Watergate Task Force and watch over Silbert’s ongoing investigations, informs Silbert, and asks Neal for daily briefing of their activities. [Silbert’s team has broken the Cover-up and Cox seems worried that they might go ahead and indict the cover-up defendants.]
June 18, 1973 – Heymann memo to Cox, et al, detailing advantages of allowing Ervin Committee hearings to continue unabated. [This is key, because by postponing the Cover-up Indictments (which were virtually done), would have effectively prevented prominent witnesses from appearing before the Ervin Committee, WSPF prosecutors allowed a “legislative trial” to go forward.]
__________ – LaRue testifies before grand jury under informal grant of immunity.
June 19, 1973 – Associated Press reports that Cox met privately with Sirica. “After Cox met with newsmen, he conferred privately for 15 minutes with U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica and Sirica, without further explanation, scheduled a hearing for today.” [No one knows what they discussed, but such ex parte meetings between judges and counsel for only one side are essentially banned by legal codes of ethics.]
June 25, 1973 – Dean begins testimony before Ervin Committee, suggesting Nixon knew as early as September 15, 1972 of the Cover-up. While never saying so directly, Dean’s 240-page statement is seen as accusing Nixon, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman of knowing participation in the Cover-up. [It is Dean’s carefully choreographed testimony (all coordinated in advance with Dash) that electrifies the Nation and turns the Ervin Committee hearings into “must see” TV. In reading Dean’s statement today, it is noticeable that he never explicitly accused Nixon of any specific wrongdoing.]
June 27, 1973 – Buzhardt submits memo to Ervin Committee detailing Dean’s own Cover-up role and posing appropriate questions. Senator Montoya is assigned the task of asking Dean about these allegations, which he simply reads aloud. [The net effect is that Dean’s role in the Cover-up is never seriously explored in any detail by the Committee.]
June 28, 1973 – LaRue pleads guilty to single felony count of obstruction of justice. WSPF releases letter assuring his lawyer of no further charges and urging Sirica to allow him out on bail until after his testimony in the Cover-up Trial.
June 30, 1973 – Silbert, Glanzer and Campbell formally withdraw from Watergate investigation. [Freed from the burdens of their intimate knowledge of the Watergate scandal, newly-arrived WSPF prosecutors build their whole case on Dean’s revised story, making him the centerpiece of their prosecution – and ending any thought of investigating his own Cover-up involvement.]
_________ – U.S. Troop strength in Vietnam falls below 200 and remains so for remainder of Nixon’s presidency.
A. Battle over the WH Tapes
Alex Butterfield’s revelation of a WH taping system set off an instant legal pursuit, along with the false impression that the tapes themselves would resolve any ambiguities regarding Nixon’s culpability and that of his senior aides.
Unlike a Hollywood movie, however, the tapes did not end the uncertainty. Much of Watergate took place “off stage,” where nothing was recorded and recollections devolved into “he said, she said” differences. When finally released (and some still remain unreleased), they turned out to contain tantalizing hints of what might have happened, but also turned out to be of such poor audio quality that transcribers “reached” for the words they hoped had been uttered – with transcripts differing significantly, depending on who was doing the transcription.
As with much of Watergate, the public’s understanding of the four or five key tapes is amazingly incorrect.
July 13, 1973 – Butterfield tells Ervin Committee staff about the existence of the WH taping system. He was then subpoenaed to testify before the full Committee on the following Monday morning.
July 14, 1973 – Silent Coup later asserts that Haig learned of Butterfield’s revelation on Saturday night, but did not inform Nixon until Monday morning, when it was too late to quash the subpoena for Butterfield’s appearance.
July 16, 1973 – Butterfield testifies before Ervin Committee, publicly disclosing existence of WH taping system. [Nixon was in Bethesda Naval Hospital with pneumonia. His Memoirs describe the division of opinion on whether to destroy the tapes, once their existence became known. In view of this conflicting advice, Nixon hesitated and subpoenas soon followed.]
July 17, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury. [Partial transcripts from pp 87-95 are attachment 1.2 to Road Map.]
July 18, 1973 – Cox writes to Buzhardt requesting access to WH tapes, which Buzhardt declines to provide.
_________ – Newspapers report a second private meeting between Cox and Sirica. [Defendants later cite reports of these two meetings in their effort to have Sirica replaced as trial judge – but to no avail.]
________ – LaRue testifies before the Ervin Committee, describing his role in the Cover-up, particularly the money payments to defendants’ counsel. He also states that he was present in Dean’s office when Kalmbach’s payment records were destroyed.
July 19, 1973 – Gray testifies before grand jury
July 20, 1973 – Gray continues to testify before grand jury. [Road Map attachment 21.3, citing pp. 113-118, concerns Nixon’s 11:45pm call to Petersen.]
________ – Liddy refuses to take oath as a witness before the House Armed Services Committee investigative hearing.
July 23, 1973 – Cox has the grand jury subpoena tapes of nine specific presidential conversations. Sirica demands grand jurors appear in his court to officialize their subpoena. Separately, the Ervin Committee authorizes subpoenas of all materials relating to criminal acts in connection with the 1972 presidential election. [Cox’s subpoena is upheld by DC Circuit, which later rejects Ervin Committee’s parallel subpoena as violation of Separation of Powers construct of our Constitution.]
July 24, 1973 – Ehrlichman testifies before Ervin Committee, asserting that Fielding Break-in was legal and undertaken for national security purposes.
July 25, 1973 – Buzhardt informs Sirica that Nixon will not comply with WSPF tape subpoena.
July 27, 1973 – Ehrlichman testifies before Ervin Committee, confirming that on March 30, 1973, Nixon had instructed him to look into what Dean had been doing. [Cited as Item 17 in Road Map]
August 3, 1973 – Bittman testifies before grand jury.
August 7, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury
August 8, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury.
August 13, 1973 – Grand Jury II empaneled to investigate non-Watergate matters, including campaign contributions, political espionage, Plumbers and ITT. The sole focus of Grand Jury I remains on Watergate. [Unless otherwise specified, all cited grand jury testimony was before Grand Jury I.]
August 14, 1973 – Hunt continues to testify before grand jury.
August 15, 1973 –- Nixon states publicly that, prior to March 21, 1973, he was unaware of the Cover-up or of anything to be covered up. [This statement is Road Map Item 46, where prosecutors cite WH tapes of 6/30/72, 9/15/72, 2/28/73 and 3/13/73 to suggest Nixon should have realized earlier that things were amiss. In this same statement, Nixon claimed his effort was to get the facts out. His specific words were:
In the summer of 1972, I had given orders for the Justice Department and the FBI to conduct a thorough and aggressive investigation of the Watergate break-in, and I relied on their investigation to disclose the facts.
This portion is Road Map Item 47, with prosecutors citing transcripts of news conferences on 8/29/72 and 3/2/73 that they claim showed otherwise. Prosecutors also claim at Road Map Item 50 that Nixon’s statement that, when he learned that Dean was unable to complete his promised report, he had instructed Ehrlichman to take over and report his findings to Attorney General Kleindienst, citing grand jury testimony by Ehrlichman (9/13/73, pp. 138-140) and Kleindienst (8/9/73, pp. 67-69.) Road Map Item 52 took issue with Nixon’s statement that he personally had not turned over information to prosecutors, since he believed Dean was keeping Petersen current and (by implication) so was Ehrlichman, citing WH tapes from morning and afternoon meetings of 3/21/73. Finally, Road Map Item 53 took issue with Nixon’s statement that Dean’s allegations in their 3/21/73 meeting “were made in general terms”, citing the WH tape from that meeting.]
August 16, 1973 – Magruder formally pleads to three felony counts, with sentence deferred. It is not pronounced until May 23, 1974.
August 22, 1973 – Sirica hold hearing on Cox subpoena for WH tapes
__________ – Young continues to testify before grand jury.
August 23, 1973 – Petersen and Young testify before grand jury. [Petersen describes his conversations with Nixon at pp. 12-23 and 29-33, which are cited as evidence in Road Map as 24.2.]
August 24, 1973 – Date of initial WSPF prosecutive memo on Nixon, signed by Richard Weinberg, but crediting George Frampton for the Watergate section. The Weinberg memo also includes sections from other four Task Forces.
_________ – Superseding indictment of Segretti on additional counts, including conspiracy to distribute false campaign literature.
August 29, 1973 – Sirica orders WH compliance with grand jury subpoena for nine WH tapes.
September 6, 1973 – WH appeals Sirica order to produce the nine tapes
September 10, 1973 – Ehrlichman testifies before grand jury.
September 11, 1973 – Oral arguments before DC Circuit on grand jury subpoena for nine WH tapes.
_________ – Ehrlichman continues to testify before grand jury
September 13, 1973 – Ehrlichman continues to testify before grand jury. [Pp. 2-6 are attachment 3.1 to Road Map. This is where Ehrlichman confirms his 3/19/73 conversation with Dean about Hunt’s monetary demands. Pp. 67-73 are attachment 11.3, where Ehrlichman describes his morning meeting on 3/22/73 with Haldeman, Mitchell and Dean.]
_________ – DC Circuit issues unanimous memorandum urging parties to settle the tape subpoena issue out of court, asking for response by September 20th. Cox submits six-page proposal to White House lawyers, suggesting tape summaries with third-party authentication, but no agreement is reached.
September 18, 1973 – First of two WSPF interviews of career prosecutors (Glanzer and Campbell) regarding their initial meetings with Dean and Shaffer during April, as Dean sought to become a government witness. [Interviews were done by WSPF attorneys Peter Rient and Judith Denny, in anticipation of negotiating Dean’s plea bargain. Prosecutors concern was that the career prosecutors had inadvertently given Dean informal immunity during their many sessions over the month of April. Denny took handwritten notes during these interviews, which were memorialized in a formal memo dated November 15th. Her notes and the formalized memo contain numerous exculpatory statements by Dean, that should have been turned over to defense counsel.]
September 20, 1973 – WH and WSPF prosecutors inform DC Circuit that they cannot reach a compromise on the grand jury subpoena for the nine WH tapes, but decline to disclose the nature of their discussions.
September 29-30, 1973 –Rose Woods spends the weekend transcribing some of the subpoenaed WH tapes.
October, 1973 – Worried that Sirica’s questionable rulings will result in any convictions where he has presided at trial being overturned by the DC Circuit on appeal, Cox meets privately with Chief Judge David Bazelon and suggests hearing all appeals from Sirica cases with the appellate court sitting en banc from the outset (termed sua sponte en banc). This approach would assure that Bazelon’s liberal bloc would always be in the majority and there could be no chance of an unfortunate reversal. [Bazelon appears to have taken Cox’s advice to heart, since all twelve appeals from Sirica’s criminal Watergate trials were heard sua sponte en banc. In contrast, none of the four appeals from Judge Gesell’s criminal Watergate trials were heard in that manner. The appalling thing is that, at the height of the Watergate scandal and WSPF efforts to get Nixon “at all cost”, prosecutorial and judicial corruption reached even to the DC Circuit Court.]
October 1, 1973 – Segretti pleads guilty before Judge Gesell to three felony counts of distributing illegal campaign literature. Sentencing is scheduled for November 5th.
_________ – Rose Woods informs Nixon that she has inadvertently caused a five-minute erasure while transcribing one of the tapes. [Buzhardt concludes that it is not a subpoenaed tape, but the subpoena is later clarified to include it (hence, the inadvertent erasure becomes far more consequential)].
October 10, 1973 – Second of two WSPF interviews of Glanzer and Campbell. First was on September 18th. Denny’s handwritten notes show Dean originally implying that “H was clean and E’s involvement was restrained.” [Results of both interviews were memorialized on November 15th, but Denny’s handwritten notation is edited away. It now reads, “Haldeman was clean cut. Dean’s praise of Ehrlichman was restrained.” Prosecutors’ failure to disclose this material to defense counsel is clear violation of their obligations under Brady v Maryland.]
October 11, 1973 – Krogh indicted on two counts of perjury before a grand jury, with Sirica assigning the case to Judge Gesell. [This is the first indictment of a Nixon WH staff member. WSPF memos say it was done to isolate Krogh from his former colleagues and to get him to turn on Ehrlichman, who is their real target. Up to this point, Krogh had publicly taken full responsibility for the Fielding Break-in.]
October 12, 1973 – DC Circuit affirms Judge Sirica’s order to turn over nine subpoenaed tapes for his review, directing Sirica to listen first and then to decide if they are relevant to the Special Prosecutor’s inquiry.
October 18, 1973 – Krogh pleads not guilty to perjury charge.
B. The Saturday Night Massacre
Appalled at Richardson’s abdication and the hundred-strong staff that Cox has assembled, along with the increasingly wide scope of their investigations, WH lawyers seek a compromise in the tape litigation: verified transcripts in lieu of turning over the actual tape recordings – the idea which Cox himself suggested during earlier negotiations.
Miscommunications between Haig and Richardson, exacerbated by the realization that Dean may walk free from his own transgressions, leads Nixon to take the dramatic action of ordering Cox’s removal– which results in the Saturday Night Massacre.
October 19, 1973 – Dwayne Andreas indicted on four misdemeanor counts of illegal campaign contributions.
_________ – (Morning) Surprised by Nixon’s offer of the Stennis Compromise, which suggests Nixon felt he had nothing to fear from the WH tapes, Cox hurries to formalize Dean’s plea bargain, since it appears he is their sole avenue to Nixon and his senior staff. Thus, they formalize entry of Dean’s guilty plea to single felony count, along with announcement of his agreement to work with the special prosecutors. Dean’s sentencing is postponed indefinitely. James Neal, Shaffer’s former co-counsel on DOJ’s “Get Hoffa” squad, who personally negotiated Dean’s plea bargain then departs for Tennessee, leaving 30-year old hot-shot prosecutor, Rick Ben-Veniste, as acting Task Force head. [Sirica will change Dean’s postponed sentence abruptly, after the Vesco jury acquits Mitchell and Stans in their New York trial and jurors say that Dean’s testimony lacked credibility.]
________ – (Afternoon) WH, joined by Senators Ervin and Baker, announces Stennis Compromise, wherein Senator John Stennis will “certify” accuracy of nine tape transcripts, which will be turned over to prosecutors in lieu of the tapes themselves.
________ – Richardson informs WH that Cox has unexpectedly rejected the Stennis Compromise. [This is critical to an understanding of the Saturday Night Massacre. Haig had assured Nixon that Richardson was prepared to fire Cox if he didn’t go along with the Stennis Compromise (a form of which – third party certification – Cox himself had suggested). Now, after the Compromise has been publicly announced, Richardson sheepishly admits he cannot deliver Cox. WH lawyers lean heavily on Cox anyway.]
October 20, 1973 – Cox denounces Nixon and questions the “rule of law” in hastily arranged press conference at National Press Club.
________ – Saturday Night Massacre: President orders Richardson to fire Cox, but Richardson asks to resign instead. Ruckelshaus (now Deputy AG) also refuses and is terminated. In the late afternoon, Robert Bork, then Solicitor General, agrees to fire Cox and disband WSPF, merging it back into DOJ’s Criminal Division. [A nation-wide “firestorm of protest” follows, with all three networks claiming some sort of coup. It is little wonder that Haig concludes that Richardson has led them badly astray. The WH is forced to reconsider.]
October 23, 1973 – WH attorney Charles Allen Wright delivers Nixon’s letter to Sirica, agreeing to turn over the nine subpoenaed tapes. [In banking on the Stennis Compromise, the WH had allowed the time for appealing the DC Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court to expire. They thus had little choice but to turn over the subpoenaed tapes. It later turns out that none of the WH lawyers had been allowed to listen to any of the tapes before RN’s reluctant decision to turn them over to Judge Sirica.]
October 24, 1973 – In reacting to the Saturday Night Massacre, House Judiciary Committee (HJC) Chairman Peter Rodino announces his committee will undertake an impeachment investigation. They begin by collecting publicly available information, but do not issue subpoenas, since the power to issue them would require a full delegation from the full House of Representatives.
October 31, 1973 – Buzhardt informs Sirica that two of the nine subpoenaed conversations were never actually recorded and do not exist. The June 20, 1973 phone call between Nixon and Mitchell was on a phone line in the Residence that was not connected to the taping system. The Sunday April 15, 1973 meeting between Nixon and Dean was not recorded because the system ran out of tape. Sirica begins Evidentiary Hearing regarding WH compliance with tapes subpoena, which will last for seventy-eight days, before he refers the matter to the grand jury. WSPF Records on this are in Box 7 of their Nixon files. WSPF prosecutors will brag in their later book that they used their skillful questioning during this hearing to destroy WH credibility.]
November 1, 1973 – Acting AG Bork announces Leon Jaworski as the new Special Prosecutor. [Jaworski was personally recruited by Nixon’s now chief of staff, Alexander Haig.]
November 2, 1973 – WSPF is re-established as independent unit by order of Acting Attorney General Bork.
_________ – Frampton learns from Dean that he has withheld and then destroyed materials from Hunt’s safe, including his Hermes notebooks (which Hunt has been claiming would confirm his version of events).
November 5, 1973 – Jaworski is sworn in as Special Prosecutor, along with revised Guidelines requiring six of eight affirmative votes from congressional committees for his removal from office.
_________ – Ben-Veniste reveals in court that Dean destroyed some of the contents of Hunt’s safe (after hiding those materials from prosecutors for eighteen months). No prosecutorial action is taken against Dean.
_________ – Attorney Sam Powers is retained to represent WH in Sirica’s Evidentiary Hearing, after being interviewed by Buzhardt and Garment in Miami. [They also had sought a meeting with Nixon to complain about his lack of cooperation with their defense efforts, but were told he was too busy to meet with them. In the introduction to their book, The Final Days, Woodward and Bernstein claim the Miami trip was to urge Nixon to resign, but they seem to have gotten it backwards: it was to say that they would have to resign if Nixon did not have more confidence in them as his lawyers.]
__________ – Segretti sentenced by Judge Gesell to six months in prison. Incarceration begins on November 12th and lasts until March 25th
November 6, 1973 – Powers arrives at the WH and makes first appearance before Sirica. Hounded by the press and unaccustomed to such unrelenting publicity, Powers soon returns to Florida and ultimately withdraws from the case. The WH search for eminent trial counsel goes on, with few expressions of interest.]
November 7, 1973 – Full Senate votes to authorize Ervin Committee to subpoena Nixon and to sue for access to the WH tapes.
First Week of November – Woodward later claims that Deep Throat informs him of “deliberate erasures” on one or more of the WH tapes. [This is one of the most puzzling instances in all of Watergate. It seems that this is a reference to the 18 Minute Gap, which is not even known by Buzhardt until several weeks later. It could be a reference to Rose Wood’s earlier inadvertent erasure, but it could also have come from someone who deliberately erased the remainder of that tape. Or not. The involved parties are all dead, so it is unlikely this issue will ever be completely resolved.]
November 8, 1973 – Woodward writes story in Washington Post claiming WH official says there are suspicious problems with the tapes, but does not claim there to have been deliberate erasures. [Note the material difference between this news article and the claim in Woodward’s later book (described immediately above) that Deep Throat had claimed there were “deliberate erasures”.]
November 9, 1973 – Sirica hands down final Watergate Break-in sentences, which were substantially reduced. Hunt’s is set at 30 months to eight years. McCord gets one to five years. Liddy’s is left at 6 years eight months to twenty years, since he still refused to talk. [Sirica’s “provisional” sentences had been imposed on March 23rd and Sirica had refused to allow defendants to be out on bail pending their appeals.]
November 13-14, 1973 – WH and WSPF attorneys go to NSA to make two copies of each of the subpoenaed tapes. [Buzhardt told me on November 13th that he had discovered the 18 Minute Gap while he was making copies with NSA expert the night before. Powers remembers that Buzhardt played the tape with him on the 14th and that was when Buzhardt discovered the gap was longer than the five minutes first claimed by Rose Woods.]
November 12, 1973 – DC Court of Appeals suspends Dean’s license to practice of law in DC, which follows automatically from his October 19th guilty plea to a felony.
November 17, 1973 (circa) – Maxine Cheshire column reports that Dean’s agent, Marcia Nasater of Ziegler Ross Inc of Los Angeles, had returned from spending a week with the Deans in their Alexandria home to discuss his outline for a book “arising out of his Watergate experiences”. [Column speculates on whether Sirica would permit such a venture, since he had specially prohibited others from exploiting their Watergate experiences for profit. No such order appears to have been entered in Dean’s case. Was he the beneficiary of a double standard?]
November 15, 1973 – Date of 26-page memo summarizing WSPF interviews of original Watergate prosecutors’ dozen meetings or contacts with Dean and his lawyer (Shaffer) in previous April, as Dean sought immunity as a government witness. [Memo contains startling admissions, documenting Dean’s changed story from accusations against Mitchell and Magruder to allegations of a conspiracy involving Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Nixon. This memo is devastating to Dean’s credibility and should have been turned over to defendants’ counsel as required in Brady v Maryland, but it was not. Interviewed separately, Silbert used the term “escalated” to describe Dean’s later inclusion of charges against Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean.]
November 19, 1973 – Dean testifies before grand jury, apparently for the first time, under grant of immunity. As acting head of the Watergate Task Force, Ben-Veniste “owns” this grand jury – and is the lead prosecutor appearing before it until Jaworski appears on February 28th. [Pp. 93 and 102-103 are cited as 33.1 in Road Map as proof that Haldeman and Ehrlichman “approved the use of Herbert Kalmbach to raise and distribute covert cash funds for the benefit of those involved in the Watergate break-in.” Nowhere in the cited testimony is there any mention of the funds being “covert”.]
November 20, 1973 – Dean continues to testify before grand jury.
November 21, 1973 – Buzhardt discloses existence of 18 Minute Gap in meetings with Jaworski and then Sirica, who insists on immediate public disclosure in Evidentiary Hearing that afternoon.
____________ – Sirica announces creation of panel to review the WH tapes
November 26, 1973 – Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, begins testimony on 18 Minute Gap. Sirica demands WH turn over full original reels containing subpoenaed conversations, rather than just those segments themselves, which were the subject of the grand jury subpoena. Such delivery is done later that same day.
November 29, 1973 – Dwight Chapin indicted on four counts of perjury in connection with the Donald Segretti investigation. Sirica assigns the case to Judge Gesell.
November 30, 1973 – Krogh pleads guilty before Judge Gesell to conspiracy to violate Ellsberg’s civil rights, although he was originally indicted for perjury. Perjury indictment is not dismissed until January 24, 1974, when Krogh is sentenced. [This alternative plea, while certainly creative, was designed to bolster their Ehrlichman prosecution, who had authorized a covert operation to examine Fielding’s files on Ellsberg.]
__________ – Nixon signs legislation extending life of Watergate grand jury (technically “June 5, 1972 grand jury”). Judge Hart, replacing Sirica as chief judge, will again extend the life on May 31, 1974, until it finally expires on December 4, 1974.
________ – Memo to WSPF leadership detailing how Dean had asked them to subpoena his files, so he could resist discovery by defendants’ counsel, while still having access to them.
December 4, 1973 – Date of Jaworski’s open letter to Ron Ziegler, praising WSPF prosecutors as thoroughly professional and objective.
December 6, 1973 – WSPF files their reply brief on Liddy’s appeal of his conviction in the Break-in Trial.
December 7, 1973 – Chapin pleads not guilty to perjury indictment.
C. Focus on President Nixon
Easily among the most unappreciated actions of WSPF prosecutors is their mistaken notion that Nixon himself must have personally approved payment of Hunt’s blackmail demands. They reached this conclusion because the final payment to Hunt’s lawyer occurred on the evening of March 21, 1973, the same day that Dean had informed Nixon of Hunt’s demand.
They envisioned a scenario where, following Nixon’s meeting with Dean (which was on tape and clearly showed no such decision had been made), Nixon must have instructed Haldeman to phone Mitchell and direct the payment be made. Haldeman must have relayed this instruction to Mitchell. Mitchell, in turn, must have contacted LaRue, who then made the payment that night. For this scenario to be plausible, everything had to have happened in this particular sequence – but testimony about the timing just didn’t work as the prosecutors had hoped.
They could prove Haldeman’s call to Mitchell, right after the Nixon/Dean meeting (which both Haldeman and Mitchell maintained was to invite Mitchell to a meeting the following day and not to convey any payoff instruction). Try as they might, however, they could not find evidence of any afternoon call from Mitchell to LaRue. LaRue testified, instead, that he had called Mitchell and that his call had occurred in the morning – before Nixon had learned of Hunt’s demand during his meeting with John Dean. As bad, it was clear from the tape that Dean told Nixon that Hunt’s was demanding $135,000 – and LaRue only paid $75,000 that evening, which was the amount of Hunt’s outstanding legal bills. When asked about this change, LaRue stated that he’d reduced this amount on his own volition, saying they had followed a practice of never paying the full requested amount, and that he had never discussed paying the larger amount in seeking Mitchell’s approval for paying the $75,000. It seems clear that if Nixon had ordered payment, LaRue wouldn’t have dared to reduce it.
These facts were known to prosecutors from LaRue’s grand jury testimony, but only became public during LaRue’s testimony in the Cover-up Trial – after Nixon had resigned. In the interim, WSPF prosecutors had secretly assured grand jurors of Nixon’s alleged involvement (which seems to be the major reason they named him a co-conspirator in their cover-up indictment) and HJC staff (which seems to be the major reason they voted to recommend Nixon’s impeachment). It is important to note that no prosecution witness ever asserted this scenario – in private meetings with prosecutors or in court testimony. It was solely a hypothesis, based only on alleged circumstantial evidence, that was asserted in secret by WSPF prosecutors.
In the last analysis, the rationale for these WSPF allegations against Nixon himself were rendered moot once the Smoking Gun tape was released and he had resigned. What would have been gross prosecutorial abuse on their part was obviated by the mistaken conclusion of his lawyers that Nixon been a part of the Cover-up since June 23, 1972.
December 11, 1973 – Sirica transmits tape of Dean meeting with Nixon of March 21, 1973, containing his “cancer on the presidency” disclosures and their discussion of Hunt’s blackmail demands, to WSPF prosecutors. [WSPF prosecutors write in their later books how shocked and appalled they are at Nixon’s statements during this meeting.]
December 14, 1973 – Jaworski, Ruth, Lacovara and Ben-Veniste meet privately with Judges Sirica and Gesell. [This is an unprecedented and indefensible ex parte meeting, particularly with so many prosecutors present, as well as the one judge to whom Sirica would assign all Watergate cases that he doesn’t try himself. It is also difficult to believe that they did not discuss the key March 21st tpe, which Sirica had turned over to prosecutors only three days prior. Any such discussion of actual evidence would be strictly prohibited.]
December 23, 1973 – John Doar is hired as chief counsel for HJC’s Impeachment Inquiry.
December 27, 1973 – Jaworski sends letter to Sirica, providing time-frame for anticipated indictments. [This letter refers to their December 14th ex parte meeting, which is the only reason we know it had occurred. The letter itself is innocuous and it remains unclear just why this reference was included at all. Perhaps prosecutors were trying in some way to justify their earlier meeting.]
December 28, 1973 – DC Circuit orders release of Hunt and Barker from jail, pending appeals of their sentences (which Sirica apparently had refused to allow). [Hunt’s release occurs on January 2 and Barker’s on January 4 – which was almost nine months after their sentencing for the Watergate burglary. Since it is customary to allow white collar defendants to be released while their appeals are pending, Sirica’s refusal is believed to have been his way putting additional pressure on them to assist prosecutors and congressional investigators. Liddy is never released, pending his own appeals.]
January 2, 1974 – Ruth memo to Jaworski urges WSPF staff come to aid of HJC Impeachment Inquiry, which he claims is foundering.
_________ – Lacovara memo to Ben-Veniste concerning ex parte meeting he and Kreindler had with Sirica on January 2nd, in response to a rumor Sirica had heard at a New Year’s Eve party the evening before. [Memo is troubling because it illustrates how nonsensical the rumor was and how extraordinarily close Sirica had become to WSPF prosecutors and to the Ervin Committee’s majority counsel, Sam Dash.]
January, 1974 – Ben-Veniste and Frampton detail in their subsequent book their excitement of discovering that the final “hush money” payment to Hunt’s lawyer was made on the evening of March 21st, following Dean’s “cancer on the presidency” meeting with Nixon. [They conclude (wrongly) that this must have occurred because Nixon himself ordered it done. It is important to appreciate that no witness has ever testified in support of this prosecutorial hypothesis. It was solely a based on a circumstantial deduction by WSPF prosecutors.]
January 4, 1974 – Prominent Boston attorney, James St. Clair, joins WH counsel’s office, to assume lead role in public defense of Nixon. [I then interviewed and hired St. Clair’s staff of some dozen attorneys, but they were hardly a match for responding to the thirty Ervin Committee attorneys, the sixty WSPF prosecutors, and the forty-five HJC lawyers.]
January 7, 1974 – (Monday) Date of Frampton’s 128-page Draft Prosecutive Report on Nixon. The whole thrust of his updated analysis is that Nixon joined the conspiracy on March 21, 1973, once he had learned specifics from Dean’s “cancer on the presidency” disclosures – and the Hunt payoff occurred that very night.
__________ – Lacovara sends memo to Jaworski, titled “Criminal Responsibility for Joining Ongoing Conspiracy”, hypothetically describing Nixon’s alleged actions – ordering payment of Hunt’s blackmail demand – as becoming a part of the ongoing Cover-up conspiracy (which they are now sure occurred following his March 21, 1973 meeting with Dean).
________ – Grand Jury III empaneled to investigate matters similar to those of Grand Jury II, whose term is due to expire. [Supposedly, describing the need for this third grand jury was one reason for the four prosecutors’ meeting with Sirica and Gesell the previous month.]
January 8, 1974 (Wednesday) – Jaworski responds to Ruth memo of January 2nd, saying WSPF job is to prosecute violations of the law, not to assist the HJC in their impeachment of a President.
January 11, 1974 (Friday) – Kreindler’s notes from WSPF senior staff’s first review meeting of the Cover-up Indictments proposed by the Watergate Task Force. These contain discussions of their cases against Kleindienst, Gray, Caulfield and Porter. [What appears to have happened at these meetings is that members of the Watergate Task Force would present their case for internal review by WSPF senior staff (consisting of Jaworski, his deputy Ruth, special counsel Lacovara, and associate counsel Vorenberg, with Jaworski assistant Kreindler taking notes), who would then discuss the Task Force recommendations. There was, of course, no separate DOJ review, outside of the WSPF staff. Because being named in the comprehensive Cover-up Indictment was tantamount to a death sentence, even if you were ultimately acquitted, these notes make fascinating reading – something like being in the jury room while the potential defendants’ fates are being decided.]
January 14, 1974 (Monday) – Ruth responds to Jaworski memo of January 8th, agreeing that WSPF help to HJC should only be done as a last resort, but asserting that it has become necessary.
_________ – Jaworski sends memo to Ruth and Lacovara requesting appointment of defense counsel to provide counter-weight to overly aggressive prosecutorial theories, probably in response to Frampton’s memo on RN, but nothing comes of it.
January 15, 1974 – Sirica’s tape panel issues its preliminary findings on 18 Minute Gap.
January 18, 1974 – Sirica suspends Evidentiary Hearing and refers issue of 18 Minute Gap to the grand jury. [No indictment is ever forthcoming, even after an extensive grand jury investigation, possibly because the government’s panel of tape experts had the Uher 5000 recorder serviced, after which it no longer created a buzz (i.e.: they inadvertently destroyed critical evidence, thereby precluding any prosecution).]
January 21, 1974 – Jaworski final memo to Ruth, saying their exchange is not helpful and complaining about political bias of WSPF staff, as well as the constant refrain that “the President must be reached at all cost.” Memo also says:
“More specifically, [our mandate] does not authorize us to violate grand jury procedures, something I observed your memo does not address.
“Moreover, you are aware of all of the references to grand jury proceedings in our letters to the White House in which we sought this information and I would have thought that you would want to respect these assurances, express and implied, as much as I do.
[Their exchange of memos is an exceptionally strong confirmation from Jaworski’s own hand that Cox and Vorenberg had assembled a highly-politicized and biased WSPF prosecutorial staff, which he had concluded he could not trust at all.]
________ – CRP deputy treasurer Herbert Porter is indicted for one count of lying to the FBI, pleads guilty on January 28.
January 24, 1974 – Krogh sentenced to 2-6 years by Gesell, for his role in the Fielding Break-in, with all but six months suspended.
________ – CRP attorney Paul O’Brien testifies before grand jury. [Pp 27-30 are cited as Road Map attachment 1.1.]
January 27, 1974 – Lacovara submits memo to Jaworski urging a private meeting with Sirica to inform him of WSPF recommended approach regarding grand jury sending sealed Report (“the Road Map”) to HJC. [This is a clear example of WSPF staff recommending an ex parte meeting to lobby Sirica on something soon to come before him for a ruling – which is a violation of professional ethics and evidence of clear prosecutorial abuse.]
January 28, 1974 – Bart Porter pleads guilty to making false statement to FBI. Sentence deferred until pronounced on April 11th.
January 29, 1974 – Hunt and Krogh continue testifying before grand jury. [Hunt pp. 63-71 are Road Map Attachment 1.3. confirming his 3/19/73 meeting with O’Brien. Krogh pp. 5-10 are Road Map Attachment 3.2 to. confirming he learned of Hunt’s monetary demands from Ehrlichman. and pp. 10-11 confirming Ehrlichman had called on 3/22/73 to say Hunt was “more stable” and Krogh should continue to “hang tough.”]
January 30, 1974 – Haldeman testifies before two Watergate grand juries, without taking the Fifth Amendment, even though he has been informed that he is a target. [Pp. 4-16 are Road Map Attachment 6.2 to, where he confirms his call to Mitchell on 3/21/73. Pp. 36-38 confirm morning meeting on 3/22/73 with Dean, Ehrlichman and Mitchell. Pp. 25-31 describe his listening to select tapes on 4/25 and 26/73, particularly the one of 3/21. Haldeman, the only non-lawyer among the principal Watergate figures, appears to have taken an interesting defensive position: I will tell you exactly what I did – and assure you that everything I did was on behalf of the President. I didn’t think my actions were criminal, I certainly had no such intent, but that’s not for me to decide.]
January 31, 1974 – Kreindler’s notes from second indictment meeting, recording discussions of Caulfield, Parkinson, Bittman, Strachan and Colson. Differences in standards being applied, particularly between those for Parkinson, Bittman and Colson, are startling. [Jaworski, for example, notes that case against Colson is not strong, but will sign the indictment anyway, because Colson is so scared that he will seek a plea arrangement right away (so prosecutors will never have to actually put on their case at trial). Vorenberg’s staff meeting notes of this same session record similar points, but have Jaworski saying it’s not a strong case, but he’d “like to nail” Colson.]
February 3, 1974 – Jaworski appears on ABC’s Issues and Answers and claims that he has no reason to question Dean’s veracity.
February 4, 1974 – Petersen continues to testify before grand jury
_________ – Krogh begins 6-month prison term at Allenwood.
February 5, 1974 – Petersen continues to testify before grand jury. [Pp. 24-27 of transcript is cited in Road Map as evidence of phone call he received from Nixon at 11:45pm on April 15, 1973 and p. 10 is cited as evidence of Nixon’s 4/16/73 conversation with Dean. Also cited as evidence at 24.2 are pp. 71-75, where Petersen describes his series of conversations with Nixon.]
February 6, 1974 – Full House votes to authorize HJC to investigate grounds for impeachment, including granting them subpoena power. This is seen as the formal beginning of HJC’s Impeachment Inquiry.
____________ – Virginia Circuit Court, after full hearing, finds Dean guilty of “unethical unprofessional and unwarranted conduct” and revokes his license to practice law. Charges brought by the State Bar included subordination of perjury, destruction of evidence, embezzlement, and approval of “hush money” payments. [The best source for this is a NY Times article the following day.]
________ – Rient memo to Ben-Veniste, detailing some fifteen instances where Dean’s Ervin Committee testimony differed or was not supported by the WH tapes. [This was prepared after Jaworski had publicly announced on a Sunday talk show that WSPF prosecutors had no reason to question Dean’s veracity – and been criticized for his statement by Judge Gesell – but no follow up action was ever taken in light of Rient’s memo. Thus, while Mitchel, Ehrlichman and Haldeman were indicted for perjury in their testimony before the Ervin Committee, Dean (who easily has as many “mis-statements”) was not.]
_________ – Ben-Veniste memo to Lacovara detailing possible charges against Hunt’s attorney, William Bittman, to which Lacovara added a concurring cover memo. [The Watergate Task Force was unanimous in its recommendation that Bittman be indicted along with the other cover-up defendants, both in the original Cover-up Indictment and later, when his withholding of evidence was discovered. But Jaworski and Ruth stoutly resisted this action – perhaps because Bittman’s role as Hunt’s attorney complicated their intended narrative of the Cover-up being done solely by Nixon loyalists or perhaps because Bittman was a Democrat icon. Either way, Bittman’s omission is extremely troubling to concerns over selective prosecutions.]
_________ – Lacovara memo concerning his telephone discussion with Liddy’s lawyer, who claimed Petersen had never delivered full message about Nixon’s offer to meet with him to personally express his desire that Liddy testify, claiming he might well have done so. [It is interesting to speculate what might have followed from any such Liddy testimony, since it was his continued silence that enabled Dean to maintain he had little involvement in the Break-in or Cover-up.]
_______ – Young continues to testify before grand jury.
February 11, 1974 – Jaworski meets privately with Sirica, who importunes him to hurry the Cover-up Indictments, since he wants to appoint himself to preside over the trial. [This ex parte meeting is also where Jaworski lobbies Sirica on proposed approach involving the Road Map. As Lacovara anticipated, the idea of a sealed grand jury report is so aggressive that Sirica is resistant to the idea. Ultimately, however, Jaworski prevails, even agreeing to provide Sirica with a memo detailing prosecutors’ rationale for such a report.]
February 12, 1974 – Jaworski confidential memo to file which describes his ex parte meeting with Sirica of the day before.
________ – Zeigler testifies before the grand jury, confirming that Nixon had instructed him to express the President’s confidence in Dean. [Pp. 62-65 cited in Road Map for this issue.]
________ – Term of Watergate Grand Jury II expires.
February 13, 1974 – LaRue testifies before grand jury about specifics of his March 21st payment to Hunt’s lawyer. [Pages 6-10A of this testimony are Road Map Attachment 7.1.]
__________ – Manyon Millican testifies before the grand jury, regarding his delivery of an envelope to Bittman on March 21, 1973. [This is Road Map Attachment 10.2]
February 14, 1974 – Vorenberg’s staff meeting notes for two weeks ending February 14th show the staff being upset upon learning from Jaworski that he’d already agreed (privately) with Sirica that Nixon would not be indicted while he remained in office. [They were upset that Jaworski had reached this conclusion with Sirica without informing them of this decision. There is no indication of any staff concern regarding Jaworski’s ongoing ex parte meetings with Sirica, which apparently were well-known to the senior staff.]
__________ – Dean again testifies before grand jury. [Pp. 13-14 are Grand Jury Attachment 2.1. confirming he had learned of Hunt’s monetary demands from O’Brien. Pp. 14-16 are Road Map Attachment 4.1. confirming he had informed Mitchell of Hunt’s monetary demand on 3/20/73. Pp. 17-18 are Road Map Attachment 11.1 confirming morning meeting on 3/22/73 with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell]
February 16, 1974 – Kreindler’s notes from third indictment meeting, detailing discussion of overall case and extensive discussion of Colson.
____________ – Star News prints a NY Times story saying Farrar, Straus & Giroux have completed or nearly completed negotiations toward acquiring Dean’s forthcoming autobiography. Roger W Straus JR was the firm’s president. Dean’s agent was said to be asking $250,000.
February 19, 1974 – Ruth writes memo to Jaworski concerning timing of Vesco trial in NYC, which will then enable WSPF to proceed with cover-up indictments. [In handwritten notes on the memo, Jaworski writes that Sirica expects the cover-up indictment to come quickly. This tends to confirm the existence of an agreement with Sirica to hurry the indictments.]
_________ – Hunt and Bittman continue to testify before grand jury
_________ – Sherman Unger testifies before the grand jury, regarding his presence at a party in LaRue’s home, which he can place as occurring on March 21, 1973. [This is cited in 10.3 as proof of the date of the LaRue payoff to Bittman]
February 20, 1974 – “Final Decisions” memorandum from fourth indictment meeting. This typed memo details extensive discussions regarding Bittman’s situation. [Jaworski, a Lyndon Johnson protégé, aggressively resists including Bittman in the Cover-up indictment. Bittman was a Democrat icon, who had protected then-President Johnson in 1964, when Bittman handled the Bobby Baker prosecution. Baker had been Secretary of the Senate when Johnson was Majority Leader and yet President Johnson’s name never came up during Baker’s prosecution. It is interesting to note that there is no record of any indictment discussions regarding Mitchell, Haldeman or Ehrlichman, their indictments apparently being presumed from the very outset.]
February 22, 1974 – Lacovara memo to Jaworski, strongly objecting to Colson indictment, saying it did not meet the requisite DOJ standard, and noting concurrence by other senior staff. [Only copy of this memo was found in Jaworski confidential files, all other copies apparently having been destroyed (as per Vorenberg’s staff meeting notes, which contain the admonition, “Collect Memo”.)]
_________ – Colson continues to testify before grand jury.
February 24, 1974 – Jaworski appears before Watergate Grand Jury I to explain prosecutors’ view (which he had pre-cleared with Sirica) that – since the law was unclear as to whether a sitting President could be indicted – they should share their evidence with HJC rather than risk the litigation that would follow if RN were indicted. Talking points prepared for his delivery have him telling them that they need not specifically identify the unindicted co-conspirators until a later Bill of Particulars would be due to defense counsel. Apparently, the grand jury had already voted 19-0 to name Nixon an unindicted co-conspirator. [There is every indication that grand jurors were assured by WSPF prosecutors that they could prove Nixon had personally approved payment of Hunt’s blackmail demand, which would be why they took this action. While I have obtained a judicial order unsealing the Road Map itself, I has thus far not succeeded in obtaining the grand transcript, if one exists, of what prosecutors said in telling grand jurors about Nixon or in getting them to adopt the prosecutors’ Road Map as their own.]
February 25, 1974 – Herb Kalmbach pleads guilty to violation of Federal Corrupt Practices Act and is sentenced to a prison term of 6-18 months and fined $10,000. [Kalmbach raised much of the initial money to pay burglary defendants’ legal fees and humanitarian payments – which were later characterized by Dean as “hush money”.]
________ – Haig testifies before grand jury.
February 28, 1974 – Vorenberg’s notes for the previous two-week period reveal that Jaworski continued to discuss his ex parte meetings with Sirica at WSPF staff meetings, adding that Sirica had approved the format of the Lacovara report (the Road Map) – and that the grand jury had approved the recommended approach of sending a sealed report to HJC, as well as naming Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator.
D. Cover-up and Plumber Indictments
The indictments of Nixon’s top aides for the Cover-up, quickly followed by Ehrlichman’s indictment for the Fielding Break-in by the Plumbers, were seen as the penultimate step in reaching Nixon. After all, if his senior aides were involved in the Cover-up, then Nixon had to be, too. WSPF prosecutors would bag Nixon’s top aides – as well as staff the HJC’s impeachment of the President.
Dean, the President’s own former lawyer, would play the starring role in both initiatives. His own culpability would be forgiven and forgotten, in exchange for what appears to be altered testimony against his former colleagues.
March 1, 1974 – Comprehensive Cover-up Indictment: The grand jury indicts Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Mardian, Strachan and Parkinson for the Cover-up, along with unnamed unindicted co-conspirators. Separately, the grand jury asks Judge Sirica that its Report (the “Road Map”) and assorted materials be transmitted to the HJC. [Nixon is named as one of the unindicted co-conspirators, but that action is sealed and remains undisclosed until it leaks on June 6th. The Road Map remained secret until its unsealing was ordered on October 11, 2018 by Chief Judge Beryl Howell, in response to my Petition. Disclosure of the Road Map’s contents has not received any media attention.]
__________ – Jaworski’s memo to his confidential Watergate file describes his two ex parte meetings with Sirica that both preceded and followed the formal indictment presentment. [He also notes that Haig had contacted him the night before, seeking some reassurance regarding WH personnel (Haig presumably meaning Nixon himself). Although Jaworski knew that Nixon had been named a co-conspirator, that portion would remain sealed, so Jaworski allowed Haig to think Nixon was in the clear. This was not only duplicitous on Jaworski’s part, but another example of where Haig, a military man and not a lawyer, was led astray by the skillful parsing of words – much to Nixon’s detriment.]
March 4, 1974 – WSPF files brief in response to McCord and Hunt appeals of their convictions in the Break-in Trial.
March 6, 1974 – Sirica holds hearing on sending Road Map to House of Representatives; opposition (by Haldeman and Strachan) to its transmittal is heard and denied. [Vorenberg’s staff meeting notes contain the notation that Jaworski had privately urged Sirica not even to hold such a hearing, since it would only provide the WH with the opportunity to delay the transmittal. One can only marvel at the casual manner in which Jaworski privately interacted with Sirica – apparently with the full knowledge and concurrence of his senior staff.]
March 7, 1974 – Grand jury indicts Colson, Ehrlichman, Liddy and Cubans for Plumber break-in of Fielding’s office in Los Angeles. [At Jaworski’s ex parte behest, Sirica assigns this case to Judge Gesell, who has already ruled favorably to prosecutors regarding a key element in their case – that there is no national security defense to the government’s Fourth Amendment violation.]
________ – WSPF spokesman confirms that Jaworski had informed the grand jury that it would not be responsible for them to indict Nixon, saying that the House of Representatives was the proper forum to hear any charges. [This seems to be deliberate misinformation, since they well knew that Nixon already had been named an unindicted co-conspirator. Thus, the WH was kept in the dark for three months (until disclosure of the grand jury’s action was sprung as a bargaining chip on May 5th.]
__________ – Liddy is indicted for refusal to testify before Congressional committees.
March 9, 1974 – Cover-up defendants plead not guilty to March 1 indictment.
March 12, 1974 – Wilson writes Sirica demanding to know if Sirica has been meeting privately with WSPF staff regarding the sealed report (the “Road Map”) which had been presented on March 1st in connection with the cover-up indictments.
March 14, 1974 – Plumber defendants plead not guilty before Judge Gesell.
March 15, 1974 – Vorenberg’s staff meeting notes of March 14-15 indicate that Lacovara’s memo objecting to Colson’s indictment had resulted in a second meeting. [There is no record of this subsequent meeting (and Colson was indicted in both cases), but Vorenberg notes that Lacovara’s earlier memo should be collected, which is probably why only one copy survived. Destruction of the Lacovara memo may be seen as destruction of evidence of prosecutorial abuse.]
________ – Silbert submits memo to Senate Judiciary Committee, which is deciding on his confirmation as U.S. Attorney, defending his handling of the Watergate break-in prosecution, saying he never could figure out the motive for the Watergate burglary. [This is particularly noteworthy, because the same could be said today: along with many other continuing mysteries of Watergate, there has been no agreed-upon resolution of this critical issue.]
Mid-March, 1974 – In an ex parte phone call with Judge Gesell, who is trying to decide when to schedule the Plumbers Trial, Plumber Task Force head William Merrill assures Gesell that the trial should only last two weeks, particularly if no national security issues come into play. [This is a continuation of WSPF urging that there is no national security defense to the government’s Fourth Amendment violation – which lay at the core of the Plumbers’ prosecution. Merrill later wrote that it was vitally important for the Plumbers’ prosecution to precede the Cover-up Trial, because it would be superfluous afterwards. His speaking privately to the judge about all of this is a clear violation of prosecutorial ethics.]
March 18, 1974 – Sirica orders Road Map sent to House of Representatives, principally on the basis that it is a factual and non-accusatory document.
March 19, 1974 – Judge Sirica turns seventy and is require to step down as Chief Judge, thereby losing the ability to assign cases to specific judges (including himself).
March 20, 1974 – Haldeman and Strachan appeal Sirica order on Road Map to DC Circuit, principally on the basis that it will leak and prejudice the jury pool in their later trial. [Much, if not most, of the grand jury testimony contained in the Road Map was released as a part of HJC’s Impeachment Report (H. Rept 93-1305), released on August 30, 1974 – after Nixon had resigned, but before the Cover-up Trial.]
March 21, 1974 – DC Circuit en banc hearing on Haldeman/Strachan appeal of Road Map being sent to HJC, denied later that same day.
March 25, 1974 – Government brief case containing the Road Map and other grand jury materials is transferred to House of Representatives. [WSPF Report, dated October, 1975, states “The materials included 12 recordings of presidential conversations and testimony pertinent to President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate matter.” (p. 123) This is of interest because every court that considered it had held that the Congress could not compel production of WH tapes, due to the Separation of Powers construct of our Constitution.]
April 1, 1974 – WSPF files reply brief on appeal of Cubans’ conviction in the Break-in Trial.
April 2, 1974 – Oral argument before DC Circuit regarding Judge Gesell’s dismissal of Ervin Committee subpoena for all White House tapes.
April 5, 1974 – Chapin found guilty on two of three counts of perjury in trial before Judge Gesell. [He was represented by Jacob Stein, who later successfully defended Ken Parkinson in the Cover-up Trial.]
April 9, 1974 – Democratic majority of House Impeachment Inquiry agrees to allow St. Clair a limited role in their proceedings. [Majority counsel, Jerry Zeifman, later claims in his book that Hillary Rodham (Clinton) had been tasked with analyzing whether a President could be represented by counsel in a House impeachment inquiry (the House action being somewhat similar to a grand jury, where counsel is not allowed) and had deliberately ignored applicable precedents in concluding that he could not.]
April 11, 1974 – First of four HJC subpoenas for WH materials. This one was for tapes of forty-two conversations. Other three subpoenas were issued on May 15th, May 30th and June 24th.
__________ – Porter sentenced to prison term of 5-15 months, all but 30 days suspended. Incarcerated April 22 to May 17th
April 16, 1974 – Jaworski issues prosecutorial subpoena for 64 additional presidential tapes. [It is this subpoena that ends up in the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Nixon. It is significant that this subpoena was not issued by the grand jury, which had already issued its indictments, but just by the special prosecutor. Ultimately, the WH would argue that this action was taken on behalf of the HJC Impeachment Inquiry, who could not obtain those materials directly – but the argument came very late and was not successful.]
April 17, 1974 – News coverage of Sirica attending a Georgetown cocktail party the night before, which was given in Jaworski’s honor –and suggesting that this undermines perceptions of his impartiality.
April 25, 1974 – John and Maureen Dean sell their home at 100 Quay Street in Old Town to Senator Weicker, then on the Ervin Committee, and his wife. Dean later told his Sentencing Officer that the sales price was $130,000, $50,000 of which went to pay off the mortgage. The remainder was $50,000 in cash and a $30,000 note. [Weicker already owned a home just up the street. This sale funded the Deans’ move to Beverly Hills.]
April 28, 1974 – Mitchell and Stans acquitted on all charges in Vesco trial in NY. [Juror interviews suggested that they did not find Dean’s testimony to be credible. This seems to be why Sirica moved up the sentencing of Magruder and Dean to before the Cover-up Trial, in order to bolster their witness credibility.]
E. Release of the WH Transcripts
In a move to discredit Dean, the WH released transcripts of some fifty presidential conversations, which they claimed would absolve Nixon and show that Dean had played a far different role during Watergate than had been portrayed by the Ervin Committee or was being relied upon by WSPF prosecutors.
The release, however, boomeranged and the media’s focus shifted seamlessly from Dean’s Cover-up role to the accusation that the tapes showed that Nixon was petty, vengeful and all too human in his private conversations.
April 30, 1974 – President Nixon addresses the nation regarding Watergate and saying he was sending tape transcripts to the HJC. [Stacked behind the President were some fifty black three ring binders containing the promised tape transcripts.]
_________ – Publication of White House Transcripts (in connection with their concurrent transmittal to the HJC). [This is the infamous “Blue Book” of some fifty tape transcripts, which I edited. It was hoped that publication would undermine Dean’s claims and show a lack of presidential involvement in the whole matter. That case is presented in a fifty-page analysis prepared by Buzhardt. The reaction, however, was the opposite of what was hoped. What was actually on the tapes didn’t really matter. Helped by the media, the public was appalled by Nixon’s pettiness and his use of foul language (i.e.: the infamous “explicative deleted” notations). Nixon was pilloried for not being “presidential”.]
May 3, 1974 – Lacovara memo to files detailing his ex parte meeting the day before with Judge Sirica. [Apparently, they spoke about the possibility that WSPF would seek to disclose certain grand jury matters in their response to defendants’ motions. This sort of “advance notice” through ex parte contact is highly suspect and undercuts any claim of Sirica’s impartiality.]
__________ – Tape panel issues its final report, which Sirica makes public on June 4th
May 5, 1974 – Jaworski informs Haig and St. Clair of that the grand jury has named Nixon an unindicted co-conspirator in connection with the Cover-up Indictment, but that this can be handled differently, if they agree to turn over specific WH tapes, but (after sharing the reduced list with Nixon), the WH does not agree to any further tapes being turned over. [Jaworski’s revelation comes as a substantial surprise to the WH, since they felt they had been publicly and privately assured to the contrary.]
May 6, 1974 – Buzhardt testifies before grand jury.
May 9, 1974 – Opening of HJC impeachment hearings.
________ – Liddy found guilty of refusal to testify before congressional committees. Suspended six-month sentence
May 15, 1974 – Chapin sentenced by Judge Gesell to 10-30 months in prison.
May 16, 1974 – Kleindienst pleads guilty to refusal to answer pertinent questions before a Senate Committee. Sentenced by Judge George Hart to 30 days, fined $100, with sentence suspended. [WSPF documents show great anger by the ITT Task Force in this decision, since Kleindienst was their biggest potential defendant. The Task Force head and two others quit in protest. This was one of the problems with having five Task Forces: each competed with the others in wanting to nail the top guys, which meant that Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Colson were targets of multiple task force investigations. This would never have happened in a normal criminal case.]
May 20, 1974 – Sirica orders enforcement of Jaworski subpoena for 64 additional tapes.
________ – WSPF files brief in DC Circuit defending Sirica’s naming himself to preside over the Cover-up Trial.
May 21, 1974 – Sirica sentences Magruder to prison term of ten months to four years, with term to begin on June 4th.
May 23, 1974 – DC Circuit upholds Judge Gesell’s dismissal of Ervin Committee subpoena for all WH tapes [Senate Select Committee v. Nixon].
May 30, 1974 – Neal memo to Jaworski concurring in Colson’s plea bargain, while noting that Colson was much less involved than the other defendants – and that both cases against Colson were relatively weak.
May 31, 1974 – Supreme Court grants Jaworski’s motion for a writ of certiorari on 64-tape subpoena. [Jaworski had surprised many with the decision to appeal directly to the Supreme Court (no doubt urged by Lacovara), bypassing the DC Circuit, but he pulled it off. He also re-styled the case as U.S. v. Nixon, which was not its name below. Also adopted unique Monarch stationery used by Solicitor General’s office, presuming to imply this was their appeal. His basis for appeal is somewhat peculiar, since Sirica had ruled in his favor on May 20th. The appeal was based on Sirica’s condition that he would review the tapes first and determine any not relevant to the criminal investigation or subject to any national security defense.]
___________ – Judge Henry Hart (who replaced Sirica as chief judge) extends life of Watergate grand jury until December 4, 1974
June 3, 1974 – Colson formally pleads guilty to single count in Plumbers case, subject to condition that he be sentenced by Judge Gesell. Other indictments are dismissed. [Colson’s plea comes as a complete surprise to WH lawyers. Earlier, he had sought CIA documents which the government had refused to release. Judge Gesell had stated he had concluded those documents were critical to Colson’s defense and threatened to dismiss the case if they were not produced. On the very day that the government was to confirm its refusal, Colson announced his decision to plead guilty. Moreover, his plea is truly unique: that he had violated Ellsberg’s civil rights by evidencing his intent to circulate any derogatory materials about Ellsberg obtained in the Fielding Break-in. This is later claimed by Plumber Task Force head William Merrill to be one of the two most significant outcomes of the Plumber prosecution. What nonsense! One can only imagine the outcry should such a standard be attempted to be enforced today.].
June 4, 1974 – Magruder surrenders to begin his prison term. [He will end up serving only seven months of his 1-4-year sentence.]
_________ – Sirica makes public the final report of his tape panel
_________ – Dean’s sentencing officer submits his Pre-Sentence report to Sirica, noting absence of prosecutive memo and Dean’s financial statement.
“One can only speculate the defendant’s motives in this offense were not only for self-preservation and protection, but also perhaps as significant, his actions appear to have been taken in order to avoid professional and political destruction.
Although acting in the role of a ‘technician’, the position of a lesser responsible individual, as Mr. Dean infers, he nevertheless appeared to have been quite able in communicating with such high government officials as the Acting Director of the FBI and high officials of the Central Intelligence Agency in order to exert his influence.
Yet, he voices contrition, and admits culpability in a rather non-apologetic manner, and to show good faith, he has cooperated extensively with the Government.
June 5, 1974 – Prosecutors file their Bill of Particulars with Sirica, which names the nineteen co-conspirators that were a part of the grand jury’s March 1st Cover-up Indictment, which Sirica (appropriately) provides to defendants.
June 6, 1974 – Grand jury’s naming of Nixon as co-conspirator immediately becomes public through an article in LA Times. This is a devastating development, taken by many as irrefutable evidence of Nixon’s criminal guilt.
_________ – WH files writ of certiorari in response, asking Supreme Court to decide whether grand jury had authority to name Nixon as a co-conspirator.
June 7, 1974 – DC Circuit denies writ of mandamus sought by Mitchell to remove Sirica as judge in Cover-up Trial. [Defendants alleged bias and specifically sought an Evidentiary Hearing into whether Sirica had met secretly with the Special Prosecutor. The ACLU joined them as amicus on this motion. WSPF reply brief did not even respond to request, since they could hardly deny such meetings had occurred. The Circuit Court rendered its decision, sitting en banc, in an unsigned single sentence order that denied the requested relief, without even providing an opportunity for oral argument. By skipping both oral argument and a written opinion, the Court effectively denied defendants any basis for arguing to the public that this constituted an abuse of process.]
June 12, 1974 – At WSPF request, Buzhardt submits an affidavit to the court asserting that he has reviewed documents sought by Ehrlichman in his defense and found none of them to be helpful in that regard. [Note: This stands in contrast to the documents sought by Colson.]
__________ – Dwayne Andreas acquitted on all counts after trial in Minneapolis.
June 13, 1974 – Buzhardt suffers heart attack and is hospitalized for a week.
June 14, 1974 – DC Circuit, sitting en banc, hears all appeals from convictions in the Break-in Trial.
June 15, 1974 – Supreme Court agrees to hear expedited appeal of Sirica’s order to produce 64 tapes (U.S. v. Nixon), skipping DC Circuit review, along with St. Clair petition challenging grand jury’s authority to name Nixon as unindicted co-conspirator.
June 20, 1974 – Jaworski files brief in Supreme Court in U.S. v. Nixon
June 21, 1974 – Colson sentenced 1-3 years in prison for his participation in the Fielding Break-in and fined $5,000, by Judge Gesell. Term starts July 8th.
________ – St. Clair files reply brief in U.S. v. Nixon, [Brief’s introduction raises the issue of whether WSPF prosecutors have no need for additional tapes, since they had already brought their indictments, and were instead acting on behalf of the HJC, which could not obtain these tapes directly, but this is a recent idea and there was no time for it to be fully developed in their brief.]
_________ – Krogh released from Allenwood prison.
June 25, 1974 – HJC publishes transcripts of eight Nixon/Dean conversations, including “Stonewall” quote from tape of March 22, 1973. [This recording is of exceptionally poor audio quality, tempting transcribers to “reach” for wording they’d like to have been uttered. The stonewall quote (“I don’t give a shit what happens, I want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover-up or anything else, if it will save it, save the plan. That’s the whole point.”) seems to be more like “if it will save ‘em, save it for them,.” which also makes much more sense in the conversation’s context.]
June 26, 1974 – Plumbers Trial begins before Judge Gesell, coming before Cover-up Trial, just as hoped by lead Plumbers prosecutor, Merrill.
__________ – St Clair appears before HJC’s closed hearings for two days to defend the President. [He is allowed to call six of the ten witnesses who testify and to cross-examine them all.]
June 28, 1974 – Date of Frampton’s Second Draft of his prosecutive memo on Nixon, which is referenced in Stonewall as having been specifically prepared for sharing with HJC staff. The draft is noticeable for its certainty that Nixon authorized the Hunt payoff – and that the LaRue/Mitchell conversation occurred in the afternoon, which was an essential element in prosecutors’ thesis about Nixon’s personal involvement.
_________ – Purported exchange of three letters between HJC Chairman Rodino and Jaworski, resulting in Doar spending several late evenings at WSPF offices with Ruth, reviewing Frampton’s newly revised prosecutorial memo on Nixon. [Supposedly, Rodino somehow learned of and then demanded this prosecutorial memo, saying his committee would subpoena it if it were not produced. Their “compromise” was to allow Doar to see it on a confidential basis – but this enabled him to do so without WH counsel learning of its existence or of Doar’s secret meetings, which would have become public had there been an actual subpoena. WSPF’s newly produced prosecutorial memo strongly urged the conclusion that Nixon had personally approved payment of Hunt’s blackmail demand on March 21, 1973.]
July 8, 1974 – Supreme Court hears oral argument regarding special prosecutors’ subpoena for 64 tapes. [St. Clair urges that WSPF is acting as agent for HJC, which cannot properly obtain tapes directly, but argument is not well developed. I attend as Nixon’s official representative.]
July 9, 1974 – Circuit Court Judge MacKinnon files fiery dissent in Mitchell v Sirica, the defendants’ effort to remove Sirica as self-appointed judge for the Cover-up Trial.
_________ – Judge Gesell orders Petersen grand jury testimony released to HJC Impeachment Inquiry.
_________ – Sirica denies defense motions for separate trials and for moving the Cover-up Trial to outside of the District of Columbia.
July 12, 1974 – The Ervin Committee issues its final report.
__________ – Ehrlichman, Liddy and two Cubans found guilty in Plumber Trial before Judge Gesell. [Gesell had ruled (as expected) that there was no national security defense to the government’s Fourth Amendment violation, which precluded Ehrlichman raising this as a defense. This portion of the trial was argued by Harvard law professor Phillip Heymann, original head of the Plumbers Task Force. The trial took just over two weeks, as predicted by Merrill (but only if national security issues could be kept from consideration). Merrill would later write that this finding was one of two most significant outcomes from his prosecution, but Ehrlichman’s conviction was upheld on difference grounds on appeal.]
___________ – Dwayne Andreas, CEO of ADM, is acquitted in corporate contributions case in Minnesota. [Interestingly, the two Watergate cases tried outside of DC – this case and that of Robert Vesco – ended in jury acquittals. In both cases, the defendants were represented by Edward Bennett Williams. Williams also defended Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, against threatened charges of obstruction of justice. He convinced WSPF prosecutors to allow Steinbrenner to plead to being “an accessory after the fact” in Steinbrenner’s hometown of Cleveland (where he was fined $15,000, but without any jail sentence). With only two exceptions – that of Ken Parkinson and of former Democrat John Connally (also represented by Williams) – all Watergate cases tried before DC juries ended in convictions. Sirica’s refusal to allow the Cover-up Trial to be heard outside of the District, where the pre-trial publicity had been overwhelmingly negative, virtually guaranteed convictions by a poisoned jury pool – just as Cox had predicted eighteen months before.]
July 15, 1974 – James Neal sends prosecutorial letter to Dean’s sentencing officer. Letter is not nearly as praising of Dean as represented by Neal, at least as portrayed in Dean’s book.
F. Nixon’s Dramatic Demise
The end of the Nixon presidency came suddenly. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the tapes must be turned over, the HJC voted to recommend three Articles of Impeachment, and key Members of Congress informed Nixon that his chances of avoiding impeachment were almost non-existent.
What really sunk Nixon, however, was the August 5th release of what has come to be called the “Smoking Gun” tape. WH lawyers, WSPF prosecutors and HJC staff had been arguing over Nixon’s conduct after Dean first informed him of Hunt’s blackmail demands on March 21, 1973. Unexpectedly, a recording of Nixon’s meeting on June 23, 1972 (some eight months earlier) showed Nixon concurring with Dean’s recommendation that they get the CIA to tell the FBI not to interview two Watergate witnesses – a clear indication of obstruction of justice.
Nixon’s remaining support evaporated and he announced his resignation three days after this tape’s public release.
Some forty years later, it is clear that Nixon’s lawyers had misunderstood the context of that conversation – it literally is not all that it appears to be – but though this revelation comes too late to help the Nixon presidency.
July 23, 1974 – Lacovara sends memo expressing concerns regarding defendants’ efforts to force Sirica’s recusal as Cover-up Trial judge, responding to Judge MacKinnon’s dissent in Mitchell v. Sirica:
Today we received a copy of a 30-page dissenting opinion filed by Judge MacKinnon on July 9th. As you know, I have always regarded the recusal motions as raising extremely troublesome problems. Although I doubt very much that the Supreme Court will be inclined to take another Watergate case this soon, Judge MacKinnon’s opinion is an excellent and effective analysis of the reasons why Judge Sirica should not have insisted upon remaining as trial judge.
We are treating the decision of the Court of Appeals as a decision on the merits upholding Judge Sirica. Nevertheless, even if the Supreme Court denies certiorari, the silence of the majority on the ground for its decision makes it highly unlikely that the “law of the case” principle will preclude the defendants from reopening this on appeal from any convictions in this case. Thus, even a denial of certiorari will not get us “out of the woods” but since the decision was made at the outset to support Judge Sirica, I see no way to turn back now.”
July 24, 1974 – Supreme Court rules (8-0) that 64 tapes must be turned over to Sirica and then to WSPF prosecutors. Eight hours later, over vigorous protest from Buzhardt, WH announces its intent to comply. [Buzhardt urged an alternative response to keep the tapes secret: Nixon would pardon everyone involved in the scandal, thereby mooting the case; then destroy the tapes, protecting forever the confidentiality of Oval Office conversations; and then resign, but it would be a principled resignation (and the public would never know of his apparent involvement in the Cover-up). I was in Buzhardt’s office while he urged this approach to Nixon and Haig.]
July 25, 1973 – Supreme Court denies writ of certiorari to hear the appeal from Haldeman’s requested writ of mandamus to remove Sirica from presiding over Cover-up Trial.
__________ – Date of Dean’s financial statement, with note saying he will deliver to his sentencing officer on the 29th. Oddities:
- Intersperses income and asset items, perhaps intending to confound.
- Lists “Remaining Legal Fees” as only $12,000. Dean lists the liquidation of his assets, which weren’t much anyway, without any mention of any prior payments to Shaffer. It appears he really didn’t pay Shaffer much at all. Shaffer had a tiny firm and devoted a full 18 months to Dean’s defense. It is highly unlikely he could have done so for free. [Was someone else picking up Dean’s legal bills or was Shaffer not billing for his time?]
- Indicates house sold for $130,000 on 4/25/74 ($50,000 to pay off mortgage, $50,000 in cash and a $30,000 note.) He paid $72,000 on 4/3/71.
- Notes he has signed $37,000 contract with Bantam Book Publishing Company for two “non-Watergate” books, for which he received $11,000 upon signing, with next third coming after first draft—and final third upon publication. Notes he will work on book when he is not testifying. [NB: There is no reference to any Watergate book. Was Dean’s concern about having to disclose his book contract the reason he kept missing deadlines for submission of his Financial Statement?]
July 27, 1974 – HJC adopts first Article of Impeachment, urging the full House to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice. This is the Watergate Cover-up resolution.
July 29, 1974 – John Connally is indicted in Milk Producers case in DC.
__________ – HJC adopts second Article of Impeachment. This is the abuse of powers resolution, asserting Nixon had violated his oath of office.
July 30, 1974 – HJC adopts third Article of Impeachment, for failure to comply with House subpoenas, mainly for the WH tapes.
__________ – The first batch of the 64 WH tapes are turned over to Judge Sirica.
July 31, 1974 – Gesell sentences convicted defendants in Plumbers Trial, including Ehrlichman and Liddy, both of whom get 1-3 years.
August 2, 1974 – Dean sentenced by Sirica to prison term of one to four years for his Cover-up role. Sentence to begin September 3, the scheduled date for the first day of Cover-up Trial. Sirica makes no statement when imposing sentence and leaves the Bench immediately thereafter. [This is the stiffest sentence handed down to date for any Cover-up defendant. In his later book, Sirica indicated that he imposed this sentence to increase Dean’s witness credibility in the Cover-up Trial, and in direct response to the Vesco acquittal. A week following the Cover-up convictions, Sirica would reduce Dean’s sentence to time served, resulting in the shortest actual sentence of any major Watergate defendant. Sirica’s actions appear to have worked a fraud on the Cover-up jury and on the American public.]
__________ – The second batch of the 64 WH tapes are turned over to Sirica, which included the June 23, 1973 “smoking gun” tape.
August 5, 1974 – WH releases transcripts of three Nixon/Haldeman conversations of June 23, 1972, along with a presidential statement. [The accompanying statement contains language demanded by the President’s lawyers, affirming that Nixon had not previously shared this information with them. In essence, after hearing this tape (and reaching an erroneous interpretation regarding its content), they abandoned their defense of the President.]
August 7, 1974 – Senators Goldwater and Scott, along with GOP Minority Speaker Rhodes, call upon Nixon, telling him that he doesn’t have the votes to survive his pending impeachment. [While many believe this meeting triggered Nixon’s resignation, it seems much more likely that he had already decided to resign and that this was a staged event, designed to make his resignation seem more like an actual impeachment.]
_________ – The remaining WH tapes are turned over to Sirica
August 8, 1974 – In an evening speech to the nation, Nixon announces his intent to resign the following day.
August 9, 1974 – Nixon bids adieu to his staff in an emotional speech in the East Room. He then boards the helicopter which will take him to Andrews AFB, where he will board Air Force One. Nixon’s resignation becomes effective at noon, as he flies across the country to his home in San Clemente. He lands at El Toro Marine Base in Irvine as a private citizen.
________ – Vice President Gerald Ford is sworn in as President in an East Room ceremony, immediately after noon.
_________ – Connally pleads not guilty in Milk Producers case.
August 14, 1974 – DC Circuit, sitting en banc, denies Haldeman’s petition questioning validity of Grand Jury I, which had been extended beyond its original term by Act of Congress.
August 19, 1974 – McBride memo to Jaworski summarizing status of WSPF investigation of then Governor Ronald Reagan. [While Reagan had nothing to do with Watergate, he was a possible GOP presidential candidate in 1976 and WSPF files show that he was the object of their investigation, along with President Ford, Vice President Rockefeller and Ford’s vice-presidential candidate, Bob Dole. WSPF prosecutors had absolute, unreviewed power to investigate whomever they pleased – and it corrupted them, absolutely.]
August 20, 1974 – House “accepts” HJC’s impeachment recommendations by vote of 412 to 3. [The House could no longer impeach Nixon, since he’d already resigned. This was a symbolic gesture, enabling even Republicans to say that they would have done so, had he remained in office.]
August 22, 1974 – DC Circuit, in hearing on motion by Haldeman and Ehrlichman for a delay of Cover-up Trial, then scheduled to begin on September 3rd, instead suggests during oral argument that a three to four-week delay would be appropriate – but there is no formal ruling.
August 30, 1974 – HJC issues its Impeachment Report (H. Rpt 93-1305) detailing its case for the three Articles of Impeachment. [While not saying so at the time, this contained secret grant jury testimony that had been contained in the Road Map, thus violating HJC’s representation that they would keep such material confidential.
September 3, 1974 – Dean begins confinement at Fort Holabird, MD. Cover-up Trial was scheduled to begin on same date, but postponed one month at suggestion of DC Circuit due to publicity from Nixon’s resignation. [Dean later brags that he’d never spent a single night in jail, but was instead enrolled in the Witness Protection program – and had spent his days in a WSPF office working on his book.]
September 6, 1974 – Nixon executes agreement with GSA Administrator Arthur Sampson regarding disposition of presidential materials, including the WH tapes.
September 8, 1974 – Ford grants full, unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon. [Ford’s people (and others) claim that Nixon’s acceptance of the pardon is an admission of guilt. Many believe that the public’s reaction to Ford’s pardon cost him his 1976 election.]
September 9, 1974 – WSPF brief filed in response to Chapin appeal.
__________ – Lacovara submits dramatic letter of resignation, saying Ford’s pardon shows Nixon is above the law and that Lacovara will not be a part of a prosecution of Nixon’s staff members, who did much less than Nixon and only did so out of loyalty.
September 13, 1974 – Ludicrous Lacovara memo to Jaworski, contending Ford’s pardon is invalid because Richardson had agreed to WSPF independence in the Guidelines, which Ford could not later undermine. [Jaworski noted that he would be too embarrassed even to raise Lacovara’s point in court.]
September 20, 1974 – DC Circuit denies Strachan’s petition for writ of mandamus ordering his separation from Cover-up Trial, but two judges express concerns, in light of his Ervin Committee immunity grant.
VI. The Cover-up Trial
Through the combined efforts of the Ervin Committee, WSPF prosecutors and the HJC Impeachment Inquiry, Nixon had been driven from office. While he had escaped criminal prosecution through Ford’s pardon, his senior aides could still be convicted and imprisoned. And in that process, WSPF prosecutors believed, Nixon’s own guilt would be irretrievably established.
Building on Dean and Magruder as their prime accusers, their real goal was to “convict” Nixon in absentia.
Sirica, as the self-appointed presiding judge, would again play the starring role during this showcase trial. While the DC jury pool was hopelessly tainted and biased against the Republican defendants, any re-location to a less politicized venue (such as Richmond or Baltimore) would necessarily involve replacement of Sirica as trial judge – and an appellate path through the Fourth Circuit rather than the ultraliberal DC Circuit. Neither Sirica nor the DC Circuit Judges were about to let this opportunity to nail Nixon slip from their grasp.
__________ – DC Circuit denies petitions by Mitchell and Haldeman for indefinite stay of Cover-up Trial (in light of the publicity from Nixon’s resignation).
September 28, 1974 – Ervin Committee officially terminates its work and submits its final report, sealing its internal files for fifty years.
September 30, 1974 – Strachan case severed from the Cover-up Trial at urging of DC Circuit on basis of good-faith agreement with career prosecutors. [Case against Strachan, which was really brought to pressure this young lawyer to testify against his boss, Bob Haldeman, is ultimately dismissed, but not until March, 1975.]
October 1, 1974 – Cover-up Trial of five remaining defendants (Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mardian and Parkinson) begins with jury selection.
October 2, 1974 – Neal memo to his assistant, requesting summary of events trying to show that Dean’s story did not change over the course of his April meetings with the original prosecutors. [Memo shows awareness of this avenue of attack, but since WSPF did not turn over Denny/Rient memo of November 15, 1973, it is unlikely that defendants’ counsel had full grasp of the nature or extent of changes in Dean’s story.]
October 11, 1974 – DC Circuit denies defendants’ motion seeking to alter manner in which Sirica is conducting voir dire.
October 12, 1974 – Following sequestration of the Cover-up Trial jury, Jaworski announces his resignation as special prosecutor, effective October 25.
October 15, 1974 – Liddy released on bail, pending appeals. He apparently has been in jail since being convicted in the Break-in Trial on January 30, 1973.
October 17, 1974 – President Ford testifies under oath about Nixon pardon before HJC. [This is the only time in history that a President has ever testified under oath before Congress.]
October 18, 1974 – Woodward interviews Buzhardt at his home in DC. [All of Woodward’s typed notes are publicly available at the University of Texas at Austin.]
October 26, 1974 – Henry Ruth, original deputy special prosecutor, succeeds Jaworski as special prosecutor.
October ___, 1974 – Magruder begins five days of Cover-up Trial testimony. [WSPF memo prepared to assist in guiding him through his direct testimony contains some four dozen notations where his expected testimony may conflict with prior sworn statements by Magruder or other prosecution witnesses.]
October ___, 1974 – LaRue testifies at the Cover-up Trial. [He testifies that his recollection was that he’d spoken to Mitchell on the morning of March 21st (i.e.: before Dean’s “cancer on the presidency” meeting with Nixon and therefore before Nixon could have ordered payment of Hunt’s blackmail demands) and made the decision on his own to seek approval only for Hunt’s $75,000 of legal expenses. This puts the kibosh on prosecutors’ hypothesis that Nixon had personally approved payment of Hunt’s blackmail demands. Unfortunately, no one appreciates the significance of LaRue’s testimony. Otherwise, prosecutors’ conduct toward President Nixon, throughout the Watergate scandal, have been called into question.]
November 8, 1974– Ed Morgan pleads guilty to back-dating Deed of Gift for Nixon’s papers, which were already at National Archives. He is sentenced to two years, all but four months being suspended.
November – Woodward interviews Buzhardt for five hours in his DC home.
November 9, 1974 – Agreement is reached permitting WSPF access to Nixon papers and tapes.
December 4, 1974 – Watergate Grand Jury I (technically “June 5, 1972 grand jury”) goes out of existence after thirty months. [Its life had been extended by Congress and then again by Judge Hart, making it the longest a single federal grand jury has ever sat.]
December 5-6, 1974 – In first interview since his resignation, Jaworski confides two key things to Woodward: (i) that he’d had secret conversations with another key player and (ii) that WSPF prosecutors had provided the key staffing for the HJC. Both items are clearly identified in the first two paragraphs of Woodward’s typed notes, but he failed to follow up on either item.]
December 9, 1974 – Congress passes the Presidential Recordings and Materials Act of 1974, seizing Nixon’s presidential papers (including the WH tapes). Extensive litigation follows, which is not finally settled until 2002, eight years after Nixon’s death.
December 11, 1974 – Harry Dent pleads guilty to campaign finance violations in connection with Townhouse Project, and is sentenced to one-month unsupervised probation. [The Townhouse Project raised money for the 1970 bi-elections, but apparently without a designated treasurer. This prosecution by the Campaign Finance Task Force, having nothing to do with Watergate, but everything to do with scaring off future GOP donors, illustrates the dangers of giving specially-recruited, highly partisan prosecutors unlimited jurisdiction.]
December 12, 1974 – DC Circuit affirms convictions of Liddy and McCord in the Break-in Trial.
December 13, 1974 – Woodward interviews Buzhardt for third time, this time at the Key Bridge Marriott.
December 29, 1974 – After a three-month trial, the Cover-up case goes to the jury.
January 1, 1975 – Cover-up Trial concludes with guilty verdicts for Mitchell, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman on all counts. Parkinson is acquitted. Mardian’s conviction later overturned on appeal. [In his book, Dean characterizes Parkinson’s inclusion as “mercy bait”, a prosecutorial gimmick of including a clearly uninvolved defendant, whose acquittal will show that the jury rightfully distinguished between defendants.]
January 8, 1975 – Upon his own motion, Sirica reduces sentences of Dean, Magruder and Kalmbach to time served, releasing them from confinement without any requirement of probation or parole. [Dean will have served four months, the least of any major Watergate figure. Magruder served seven. Later critics will argue that their “severe sentences, followed by instant release after trial” worked a fraud on the trial jury, as well as on the American public.]
VI. The Aftermath
In the intervening years, lots of books have been written challenging conventional narrative regarding the rationale behind the original Watergate Break-in. My books, however, challenge our understanding of the entire scandal and explain how improper collusion between WSPF prosecutors, the DC courts, and the HJC Impeachment Inquiry is what drove Nixon from office, thereby voiding his historic 1972 re-election victory.
President Nixon and his senior aides went to their graves never knowing the truth of how they had been so improperly maligned, tried, convicted and imprisoned in clear violation of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process and a fair trial.
January 10, 1975 – Ruth sends memo to entire staff, demanding notarized affidavits concerning press contacts, reacting to a leak, stating that this same procedure had been followed before under Cox and Jaworski.
January 13, 1975 – Liddy’s bail is revoked and he re-enters prison on January 22nd
_________ – WSPF files brief in opposition to Liddy’s petition for writ of certiorari.
February 7, 1975 – DC Circuit, not sitting en banc, hears Chapin’s appeal from perjury conviction which had been tried before Judge Gesell. [This is one of four appeals from criminal trials held before Judge Gesell, none of which are heard en banc, in telling contrast to appeals from Judge Sirica, where all twelve are heard sua sponte en banc, as urged by Cox in his ex parte meeting with chief judge Bazelon.]
February 10, 1975 – McCord files petition for writ of certiorari challenging his conviction in Break-in case.
February 21, 1975 – Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell sentenced by Sirica to terms of 2½ to 8 years. [Haldeman serves his term at Lompoc minimum security prison near Los Angeles, where he drafts a 46-page letter to James Neal, WSPF’s lead prosecutor, seeking to explain why he was not party to the Cover-up.]
February 22, 1975 – Date of final version of Frampton’s prosecutive memo on Nixon. Even though LaRue had testified that his phone call with Mitchell had occurred on the morning of March 21st, Frampton still portrays it as having occurred in the afternoon. He also asserts Nixon approved the payoff during the course of his March 21st meeting with Dean. There is no inclusion of any material in Nixon’s defense.
February 28, 1975 – Frampton and Ben-Veniste resign from WSPF staff.
March 4, 1975 – Woodward interviews Buzhardt at his SC home. This is their last interview.
March 10, 1975 – Special Prosecutor drops charges against Strachan.
March 12, 1975 – Maurice Stans pleads guilty to three technical counts in violation of Federal Election Campaign Act. Controversy ensues over whether he should be sentenced to jail for such minor violations – and he is not.
March 14, 1975 – LaRue sentenced to six months in prison.
April 2, 1975 – Trial of John Connally begins in DC, where he’s represented by Edward Bennett Williams. Lady Bird Johnson testifies as a character witness.
April 17, 1975 – Connally acquitted on two counts in Milk Producers case. [Except for Ken Parkinson, this is the only acquittal of any Watergate case tried before a DC jury.]
April 18, 1975 – WSPF asks Court to drop remaining three counts against Connally.
May 2, 1975 – WSPF files reply brief in the appeal of the convictions in the Plumbers case.
May 14, 1975 – Stans fined $5,000 for three technical violations of campaign finance laws.
May 29, 1975 – McCord released from prison.
June 1, 1975 – Special Prosecutor subpoenas Nixon to appear before special representatives of Watergate Grand Jury III in San Clemente.
June 5, 1975 – Nick Akerman prepares 18-page memo to the file, detailing his ultimately unsuccessful efforts on behalf of the Plumber Task Force’s to pin violence at May 3, 1972 demonstrations (while J. Edgar Hoover lay in state) on Colson. [Memo, which details an incredible witch hunt, demonstrates the due process risks of concentrating unreviewed authority in a politically motivated special prosecution force.]
June 18, 1975 – DC Circuit, not sitting en banc, hears Ehrlichman’s appeal in Plumbers case, which had been tried before Judge Gesell.
June 23, 1975 – Nixon begins three days of special grand jury testimony in San Clemente. [WSPF extensive preparatory records are in Boxes 5 & 6 of their Nixon file. This appears to be a last chance, desperate attempt to nail the ailing former President in “perjury trap.” Either he would have to “sell out” his former colleagues on any number of topics or would lie on their behalf, thereby subjecting himself to new charges of perjury, not covered by Ford’s pardon. While still recovering from phlebitis, Nixon ably defended himself and the last Watergate grand jury expired without taking further action. The transcript of Nixon’s testimony is unsealed in 2011 by order of Judge Royce Lamberth.]
1975 – Fred Thompson authors At That Point in Time, the Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee (Quadrangle, 1975)
July 14, 1975 – DC Circuit, not sitting en banc, affirms Chapin’s perjury conviction, which had been tried before Judge Gesell.
July 21, 1975 – Date of Carl Feldbaum’s second draft of a proposed section for WSPF’s Final Report, Chapter 4B: Actions Related to President Nixon’s Possible Criminal Activity, which was never included. Notable for its total omission of any mention of Frampton hypothesis that Nixon personally ordered the Hunt payoff on March 21st.
October 16, 1975 – WSPF Report released, detailing all of their investigations. Ruth resigns as special prosecutor and is replaced by Charles Ruff. [Vorenberg took lead role in preparing this formal Report, which is why his staff meeting notes are so critical to any understanding of WSPF conduct during Watergate. Note their Report contains no section on Nixon’s own involvement.]
January 6, 1976 – DC Circuit oral argument regarding challenges to convictions in the Cover-up Trial. The Court, sitting en banc, asked no questions at all. Separate afternoon hearing on Mardian’s challenge, based on his lead counsel having to withdraw in the middle of trial due to illness. Court also sat en banc, but with Leventhal recusing himself.
May 17, 1976 – DC Circuit, not sitting en banc, reverses convictions of Barker and Martinez in Plumbers Trial before Judge Gesell, and upholds those of Ehrlichman and Liddy.
October 12, 1976 – DC Circuit upholds Cover-up Trial convictions in long but unsigned opinion, except for Mardian’s, which is reversed and remanded for re-trial, but Mardian is never retried.
October 28, 1976 – Ehrlichman begins prison term.
November 2, 1976 – President Ford loses election to Jimmy Carter, former Governor of Georgia.
May 23, 1977 – Supreme Court denies writ of certiorari in Cover-up Trial convictions. [Four votes would have been necessary, but the vote was 3-5, with Rehnquist recusing himself. Nina Totenberg of NPR scooped the Court with her article on their deliberations, saying that Warren Berger had asked colleagues to postpone their vote for a week, while he continued to lobby for that critical fourth vote to grant cert.]
April 12, 1977 – President Carter commutes Liddy’s sentence to maximum of eight years confinement.
April 19, 1977 – Stonewall, the Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution, is published by Ben-Veniste and Frampton.
June, 1977 – WSPF closes up, referring any pending items to DOJ’s Criminal Division. The fourth special prosecutor, Charles Ruff, gives interesting farewell interview.
December 16, 1978 – Fred Buzhardt dies in South Carolina at age 54. No male in his family had lived past fifty.
May, 1980 – Edward Kennedy makes run for Democratic Presidential Nomination, loses to Carter in first ten state primaries and then withdraws.
December 9, 1982 – Leon Jaworski dies at age 79. Leaves papers to his alma mater, Baylor University. [Much later, it is discovered that they contain Watergate documents dating from his time as special prosecutor. These documents are returned to National Archives and opened in response to my FOIA request. They are found to contain, among other things, confirmation of Jaworski’s numerous ex parte meetings with Judge Sirica.]
November, 1984 – James Hougan authors Secret Agenda, Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (Random House, 1984)
April 23, 1985 – Sam Ervin dies at age 89.
November 9, 1988 – John Mitchell dies at age 75.
June 8, 1989 –- Woodward interviews Haig, who is working on his book, Inner Circles.
July 19, 1990 – Nixon Museum and Birthplace opens in Yorba Linda, California
1991 – Len Colodny authors Silent Coup, the Removal of a President (St. Martin’s Press, 1991)
January, 1992 – John and Maureen Dean file lawsuit against St. Martin’s Press, et al, for defamation in collection with the marketing of Colodny’s book, Silent Coup.
August 14, 1992 – Judge John Sirica dies at age 88.
June 15, 1993 – John Connally dies at age 76.
November 12, 1993 – Bob Haldeman dies at age 67.
April 22, 1994 – Richard Nixon dies at age 81, and is buried at site of his Museum and Birthplace in Yorba Linda.
1995-1996 – Dean is deposed by counsel in his law suit against St. Martin’s Press for marketing of Colodny’s book, Silent Coup. [Case is Dean v. St. Martin’s Press. There is a total of about eight hours of his deposition, but few revelations. Dean did disown any accuracy of his book, saying it had been ghost-written by Taylor Branch and that he had not even read the final version. He did say he would stand behind the accuracy of everything he said in his Ervin Committee hearings, but nothing else. He also admitted that the smoking gun has been totally misunderstood from the outset. Settlement of that law suit has been sealed, but Colodny says Dean wanted out after Colodny filed a lengthy brief in his defense.]
November 6, 1997 – Woodward interviews Haig for his book, Shadow, Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate.
February 5, 1998 – Woodward interviews Haig a second time.
February 14, 1999 – John Ehrlichman dies at age 74.
July 13, 2000 – Compromise reached on litigation over compensation for the government’s seizure of Nixon presidential papers. The settlement, while sealed, is believed to be a government payment of $18 million to Nixon’s estate.
March 2, 2001 – William Bittman dies at age 69, releasing 22 boxes of National Archive files for review.
March 10, 2001 – James St Clair dies in Boston.
February 17, 2003 – Presidential Tapes: Historical Record Conference on Presidential Recordings is held at Kennedy Library in Boston. Dean participates in a panel discussion and publicly admits to having been “chief desk officer” for the Cover-up.
January, 2004 – Budget Reconciliation Act allows National Archivist to move Nixon’s presidential papers to Yorba Linda, with Nixon Library joining the Presidential Library System. The process expected to take several years.
January 29, 2004 – Dean asserts in Brian Lamb interview for C-SPAN’s Book TV that he “never went to prison. I had—I was in the witness protection program.”
April 7, 2004 – Dean assures Amy Goodwin that he was never in prison, never in jail, but instead in custody at a government safe house – and driven to his office every day from the safe house.
May 29, 2004 – Archibald Cox dies at age 92; Sam Dash dies at age 79.
July 24, 2004 – Fred LaRue dies at age 76.
June 1, 2005 – Vanity Fair article in which Mark Felt admits to being “that fellow they call Deep Throat.” His senility, however, prevents any actual confirmation.
July 11, 2007 – Nixon Presidential Library officially joins NARA’s Presidential Library System, with a parallel support group, the Nixon Foundation.
February 22, 2008 – Judge Gerhard Gesell dies at age 82.
May 20, 2008 – James Rosen authors The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate (Doubleday, 2008)
June 17, 2008 – My first book, The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President, Inside the Real Watergate Conspiracy, is published by Penguin Sentinel Press.
May 19, 2010 – Nixon Library Archivist Timothy Naftali presents his “first and final” Watergate Exhibit proposal, which he had drafted in secret, without any of the promised consultation with the Nixon Foundation.
May 24, 2010 – I present Five Watergate Conspiracies at Nixon Library. (Video available on my website)
August 2, 2010 – Nixon Foundation’s detailed critique of Naftali’s proposed Watergate Exhibit. https://www.archives.gov/files/foia/pdf/watergate-exhbit.pdf
April 1, 2011 – Naftali’s Watergate exhibit opens at Nixon Library, without substantive change from his original proposal.
June 27, 2011 – My own extensive critique of Naftali’s Watergate exhibit. See my Watergate Website).
November 10, 2011 – Nixon’s July 1975 Watergate grand jury testimony released to the public by order of Chief Judge Royce Lamberth.
January 29, 2012 – Dean tells the Chapman Panther newspaper that “I was in the witness protection program the whole time. never really served time.”
February 9, 2012 – I present Due Process and the Watergate Trials at Nixon Library. (Video available on my website)
May 8, 2012 – Jeff Himmelman authors Yours in Truth, A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee (Random House, 2012). [Book confirms that Bernstein actually interviewed at least one Watergate grand juror and that Bradlee possessed a seven-page summary of that interview.]
April 25, 2013 – I review Jaworski’s confidential Watergate file at National Archives, released in response to my FOIA request. [File contains documented proof of his series of ex parte meetings with Judge Sirica.]
September 23, 2013 – My article on Leon Jaworski’s Telltale Memos is posted on The Atlantic’s website. [This is first public disclosure of Jaworski’s many ex parte meetings with Judge Sirica.]
March 3, 2014 – Max Holland authors Leak, Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat (University of Kansas Press, 2014). [His book details how Felt’s actions were designed to show Pat Gray unable to control the FBI, which might lead to Felt being named as his replacement, rather than any effort to sink President Nixon.]
July 29, 2014 – Publication of Dean’s book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (Penguin Books, 2014). [Book contains two significant admissions against interest: (i) says the 18 Minute Gap is “historically insignificant” (Appendix A) and (ii) says the Smoking Gun tape is totally misunderstood (footnote at pp. 54-55). My detailed critique of Dean’s book is reprinted as Appendix D in Roger Stone’s own Watergate book.]
July, 2015 – I gain access to Vorenberg papers at Harvard’s law library. [Vorenberg’s WSPF staff meeting notes contain surprising references to Jaworski’s ex parte meetings with Judge Sirica and other questionable actions by WSPF prosecutors.]
August 3, 2015 – My second book, The Real Watergate Scandal, Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot that Brought Nixon Down, is published by Regnery Press.
August 8, 2015 – I present The Real Watergate Scandal at the Nixon Library. [Video available on my website]
September 15, 2015 – I do a GW Law School panel with NCC’s Jeff Rosen, Professor Stephen Saltzburg and Fox News’ James Rosen. [Video available on my website]
October 1, 2015 – I do the first of two dozen presentations to Federalist Society chapters at various law schools.
October 27, 2015 – I do book presentation at National Archives in DC. [Video available on my website]
March 10, 2016 – I do presentation at the Heritage Foundation in DC. [Video available on my website]
November 14, 2016 – I participate on judicial ethics panel with District Judge Paul Diamond and NYU Professor Stephen Gillers at EDPA Judicial Retreat.
January 19, 2017 – I am the Historical Society speaker at Inner Temple Inn of Court in London, England.
January 20, 2017 – I speak to the Rothermere American Institute, a graduate school at Oxford University.
January 30, 2017 – I participate on a judicial ethics panel with Ninth Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown and District Judge Andrew Guilford at Ninth Circuit’s Mid-Winter Judicial Workshop in Tucson, AZ.
April 7, 2017 – I participate on a panel with Ninth Circuit Judge McKeown during White House Fellows regional conference at Nixon Library.
May 11, 2017 – I participate on a judicial ethics panel with District Judge Andrew Guilford and Magistrate John Early at the Orange County chapter of Federal Bar Association.
July 6, 2017 – I participate on a judicial ethics panel with District Judge Andrew Guilford and Loyola Law Professor Laurie Levenson at Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Fargo, ND.
August 23, 2017 – I participate in a filming project hosted by Frank Luntz, in his Brentwood home with Dwight Chapin and Frank Gannon.
October 11, 1918 – Chief Judge Beryl Howell unseals WSPF’s infamous “Road Map” in response to my court petition. It is now posted on the National Archives website.
January, 2019 – I begin a twelve-week lecture series for the adult education program at Temple University, titled “Watergate Revisited, An Insider’s View”. Videos of each lecture are posted on my website.
May 21, 2019 – Ethics panel presentation featuring disclosures in my 2015 book is released by the American Law Institute.
January, 2020 – I do a series of eight videotaped podcasts at the Nixon Library, with Hugh Hewitt, which are posted on YouTube.
August 4, 2021 – “Trial on the Potomac, the Impeachment of Richard Nixon,” a play by George Bugatti which stars Rich Little as Nixon, begins its five-week off-Broadway run at St. Clement’s Theatre in Manhattan. The play portrays a hypothetical Senate trial which might have followed, had Nixon chosen not to resign, with the audience (purported Senators) getting to cast their vote regarding Nixon’s guilt at the play’s conclusion. See www.trialonthepotomac.com.
August 7, 2021 – Frank Luntz leads a post-performance focus group discussion of the play, which also is posted on the website.
October 3, 2021 – I file a formal complaint concerning prosecutorial misconduct by members of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force with the Office of Professional Responsibility at the Department of Justice.
November 23, 2021 – My third book, The Nixon Conspiracy, Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President (Bombardier Books, 2021) is published.