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Ehrlichman spoke to the Attorney General from the President's office. Ehrlichman told the Attorney General that he had been conducting an investigation for about the past three weeks for the President as a substitute for Dean on White House and broader involvement. He also told him that he had reported his findings to the President the day before and that he had advised people not to be reticent on the President's behalf about coming forward. He informed the Attorney General that he had talked to Mitchell and had tried to reach Magruder, but that he had not been able to meet with Magruder until after Magruder had conferred with the U.S. Attorneys. He offered to make all of his information available if it would be in any way useful.

Following the telephone call Ehrlichman said that the Attorney General wanted him to meet with Henry Petersen the next day regarding the information he had obtained. During the course of the conversation relating to Magruder changing his testimony the President stated: P. It's the right thing. We all have to do the right thing.

Damn it! We just cannot have this kind of business, John.

Just cannot be. Late on the evening of April 14th, after the Correspondents' dinner, the President spoke by telephone first with Haldeman and then with Ehrlichman. The President told each that he now thought all persons involved should testify in public before the Ervin Committee.

On the morning of Sunday, April 15th, the President talked with Ehrlichman and told him that he had received a call from the Attorney General who had advised him that he had been up most of the night with the U.S. Attorney, and with Assistant Attorney General Petersen. The Attorney General had requested to see the President, personally, the President told Ehrlichman, and the President had agreed to see him after Church. The President and Ehrlichman again reviewed the available evidence developed during Ehrlichman's investigation and the status of relations with the media.

In the early afternoon of April 15, the President met with Attorney General Kleindienst. Kleindienst confirmed to the President that the U.S. Attorneys had broken the case and knew largely the whole story as a result of Magruder's discussions with them and from disclosures made by Dean's attorneys, who were also talking to the U.S. Attorney. The Attorney General anticipated indictments of Mitchell, Dean and Magruder and others, possibly including Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Kleindienst indicated that he felt that he could not have anything to do with these cases especially because of his association with Mitchell, Mardian and LaRue. The President expressed reservations about having a special prosecutor: P. First it's a reflection it's sort of an admitting mea culpa

for our whole system of justice. I don't want to do that The President then suggested that Kleindienst step aside and that the Deputy Attorney General, Dean Sneed, be

placed in charge of the matter. The President expressed confidence in Silbert doing a thorough job.

Kleindienst pointed out that even if he were to withdraw, his deputy is still the President's appointee and that he would be “in a tough situation ..." Kleindienst recommended that a Special Prosecutor be appointed and a number of names were suggested. The President's reaction to the idea of a Special Prosecutor was negative.

P. “... I want to get some other judgments because I - I'm

open on this. I lean against it and I think it's too much of

a reflection on our system of justice and everything else.” Following a further review of the evidence, Kleindienst raised the question about what the President should do in the event charges are made against White House officials. The President resisted the suggestion that they be asked to step aside on the basis of charges alone. P. the question really is basically whether an individual,

you know, can be totally, totally - I mean, the point is if a

guy isn't guilty, you shouldn't let him go. K. That's right, you shouldn't P. It's like me - wait now - let's stand up for people if there

even though they are under attack. Further discussion on this subject included the suggestion that Assistant Attorney General Henry Petersen might be placed in charge rather than the Deputy Attorney General. Kleindienst pointed out, “He's the first career Assistant Attorney General I think in the history of the Department."

Shortly after this the tape at the President's office in the Executive Office Building ran out. It is clear, however, from a recorded telephone conversation between the President and Kleindienst that he and Henry Petersen met later in the afternoon with the President. This was verified by Mr. Petersen's testimony before the Senate Committee. It was during this meeting that the President assigned the responsibility for the on-going investigation to Mr. Petersen.

At his meeting with the President, Assistant Attorney General Petersen presented to the President a summary of the allegations which related to Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Strachan, and that the summary indicated no case of criminal conduct by Haldeman and Ehrlichman at that time. (Bk. 9, p. 3875)

The President, on the afternoon of April 15, 1973, had every reason to believe that the judicial process was moving rapidly to complete the case. He continued to attempt to assist. He had four telephone conversations with Petersen after their meeting. In the afternoon, having been told that Liddy would not talk unless authorized by “higher authority," who all assumed was Mitchell, the President directed Petersen to pass the word to Liddy through his counsel that the President wanted him to cooperate. Subsequently, the President told Petersen that Dean doubted Liddy would accept the word of Petersen, so Petersen was directed to tell Liddy's counsel that the President personally would confirm his urging of Liddy to cooperate. The President stated:

P. I just want him (Liddy) to be sure to understand that as

far as the President is concerned, everybody in this case is to talk and to tell the truth. You are to tell everybody, and you don't even have to call me on that with anybody.

You just say those are your orders. The President continued to seek additional facts and details about the whole matter. Petersen could not reveal the details of the further disclosures by Dean's attomeys, so the President sought Petersen's advice about getting further information from Dean. P. Right. Let me ask you this - why don't I get him in now

if I can find him and have a talk with him?
HP. I don't see any objection to that, Mr. President.
P. Is that all right with you?
HP. Yes, sir.
P. All right - I am going to get him over because I am not

going to screw around with this thing. As I told you.
HP. All right.
P. But I want to be sure you understand, that you know we

are going to get to the bottom of this thing. HP. I think the thing that P. What do you want me to say to him? Ask him to te!l me

the whole truth? After talking with Dean and reviewing Dean's further information, the President raised the question about when Dean and perhaps Haldeman and Ehrlichman should resign and Petersen responded, "We would like to wait, Mr. President.”

On the morning of April 16, the President began a long series of meetings on the entire subject. Being uncertain of when the case would become public, the President decided he wanted resignations or requests for leave in hand from those against whom there were allegations. He had Ehrlichman draft such letters, and discussed them with Haldeman and Ehrlichman.

The President then met with Dean and discussed with him the manner in which his possible resignation would be handled. Dean resisted the idea of his resigning without Haldeman and Ehrlichman resigning as well. The President reviewed with Dean the disclosures Dean made to the President on March 21st, and on the evening of April 15th.

The President had some more advice for John Dean on this occasion: P. Thank God. Don't ever do it, John. Tell the truth. That is

the thing I have told everybody around here – tell the truth! All they do, John, is compound it. That Hiss would be free today if he hadn't lied. If he had said, “Yes I knew Chambers and as a young man I was involved with some Communist activities but I broke it off a number of years ago." And Chambers would have dropped it. If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me,

don't ever lie.” As to the President's actions, he told Dean: P. No, I don't want, understand when I say don't lie. Don't

lie about me either.
D. No, I won't sir - you -

The President met with Haldeman at noon on April 16th to discuss at length how and when Haldeman should make a public disclosure of his actions in the Segretti and Watergate matters. Haldeman reported that Mr. Garment recommended that he and Ehrlichman resign. Garment had been assigned by the President on April 9 to work on the matter. The President stated that he would discuss that problem with William Rogers that afternoon and asked Haldeman to get with Ehrlichman and fill in Rogers on the facts.

The President met in the early afternoon alone with Henry Petersen for nearly two hours in the Executive Office Building. They discussed the effect the Senate Committee hearings would have on the trials in the event indictments are returned.

The President then asked Petersen what he should do about Dean's resignation. HP. Yes. As Prosecutor I would do something different but

from your point of view I don't think you can sit on it I think we have the information under control but that's

a dangerous thing to say in this city. P. Ah HP. And if this information comes out I think you should

have his resignation and it should be effecove ... Petersen, however, urged the President not to announce the resignation if the information did not get out, as that would be "counter-productive" in their negotiations with Dean's counsel. Petersen reviewed the status of the evidence at length with the President with a view toward making a press release before an indictment or information was filed in


Court. During the course of the conversation Petersen informed the President that they were considering giving Dean immunity. As for Haldeman and Ehrlichman, Petersen recommended that they resign. The status of the situation was reviewed as follows:

P. Okay. All right come to the Haldeman/Ehrlichman thing.

You see you said yesterday they should resign. Let me tell you they should resign in my view if they get splashed with this. Now the point is, is the timing. I think that it's, I want to get your advice on it, I think it would be really hanging the guy before something comes in if I say look, you guys resign because I understand that Mr. Dean in the one instance, and Magruder in another instance, made some charges against you. And I got their oral resignations last night and they volunteered it. They said, look, we want to go any time. So I just want your advice on it I don't know what to do, frankly. (Inaudible) so I guess there's nothing in a hurry about that is there? I mean 1-Dean's resignation. I have talked, to him about it this

morning and told him to write it out. HP. (Inaudible). P. It's under way, I asked for it. How about Haldeman and

Ehrlichman? I just wonder if you have them walk the plank before Magruder splashes and what have you or what not. I mean I have information, true, as to what Magrider's going to do. (Inaudible) nothing like this

(inaudible). HP. Or for that matter, Mr. President.

[blocks in formation]

HP. Its confidence in the Office of the Presidency.
P. Right. You wouldn't want do you think they ought to

resign right now? HP. Mr. President, I am sorry to say it. I think that mindful

of the need for confidence in your office-yes. P. (Inaudible) basis? HP. That has nothing to do that has nothing to do with guilt

or innocence.

At the end of the meeting with Petersen, the President had every reason to believe that a public disclosure of the entire case in court would be made within forty-eight hours and perhaps sooner. The remaining questions for Presidential decision were: (1) What action he should take on the resignation, suspension or leave of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Dean and whether it should be before or after they were formally charged; (2) what position he should take on immunity for Dean; and (3) what statement he should issue prior to the public disclosure in court.

On the afternoon of April 17, the President discussed the problem of granting immunity to White House officials with Henry Petersen. Petersen pointed out that he was opposed to immunity but he pointed out that they might need Dean's testimony in order to get Haldeman and Ehrlichman. The President agreed that under those circumstances he might have to move on Haldeman and Ehrlichman, provided Dean's testimony was corroborated. The President told Petersen: P. That's the point. Well, I feel it strongly - I mean - just

understand - I am not trying to protect anybody - I just want the damn facts if you can get the facts from Dean

and I don't care whether HP. Mr. President, if I thought you were trying to protect

somebody, I would have walked out. As for Dean, the President told Petersen: P. "... No I am not going to condemn Dean unul he has a

chance to present himself. No he is in exacdy the same

position they are in." The President remained convinced, however, that a grant of immunity to a senior aide would appear as a cover-up. P. What you say - Look we are having you here as a witness

and we want you to talk.
HP. That is described as immunity by estoppel.
P. I see, I see - that's fair enough.
HP. That is really the prosecutor's bargain.
P. That is much better basically than immunity - let me say

I am not, I guess my point on Dean is a matter of prin-
ciple – it is a question oi the fact that I am not trying
to do Dean in- I would like to see him save himself but
I think find a way to do it without - if you go the im.

munity route I think we are going to catch holy hell for it. HP. Scares hell out of me. The President went over the draft of his proposed statement with Petersen. Petersen further counseled the President that no discussion of the facts of the case could he made without prejudicing the case and the rights of the defendants.

Later on the afternoon of April 17, the President issued his statement, revealing that he had new facts and had begun his own investigation on March 21; that White House staff members who were indicted would be suspended, and if they were convicted, they would be discharged. He announced that all members of the White House staff would appear and testify before the Senate Committee. The President further stated that:

I have expressed to the appropriate authorities my view that no individual holding, in the past or present, a position of major importance in the Administration should be given im

munity from prosecution. In addition he stated that all White House staff employees were expected fully to cooperate in this matter.

After making his public statement, the President met with Secretary of State Rogers, and they were joined later by Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Secretary Rogers reiterated his advice that the President could not permit any senior official to be given immunity. He also reiterated his advice that for the President to discharge his senior aides before they were formally charged with a crime would highly prejudice their legal rights and convict them without a trial.

The President had concluded that he should treat Dean, Haldeman and Ehrlichman in the same manner. Petersen had advised the President that action on Dean would prejudice the negotiations of the U.S. Attorneys with Dean's lawyers, and that Dean's testimony might be needed for the case.

On the evening of April 19, the President met with Messrs. Wilson and Strickler, counsel retained by Haldeman and Ehrlichman upon recommendation of Secretary Rogers. Wilson and Strickler made strong arguments that Haldeman and Ehrlichman had no criminal liability and should not be discharged.

The President continued to struggle with the question of administrative action against his aides.

On April 27, Petersen reported to the President that Dean's lawyer was threatening that unless Dean got immunity, “We will bring the President in - not in this case but in other things."

On the question of immunity in the face of these threats, the President told Petersen: P. All right. We have got the immunity problem resolved.

Do it, Dean if you need to, but boy I am telling you - there

ain't going to be any blackmail. On :\pril 27, the President was also advised by Petersen that the negotiations with Dean's attorneys had bogged down, and action by the President against Dean, Halde- . man and Ehrlichman would now be helpful to the U.S. Attorney.

Three days later, on April 30, the President gave a nationwide address. He announced that he accepted the resignations of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Attorney General Kleindienst and Deun. The President then announced the nomination of Elliot Richardson as the new Attorney General.


Throughout the period of the Watergate affair the raw material of these recorded confidential conversations establishes that the President had no prior knowledge of the break-in and that he had no knowledge of any coverup prior to March 21, 1973. In all of the thousands of words spoken, even though they often are unclear and ambiguous, not once does it appear that the President of the United States was engaged in a criminal plot to obstruct justice.

On March 21, 1973, when the President learned for the first time of allegations of such a plot and an alleged attempt to blackmail the White House, he sought to find out the facts first from John Dean then others. When it appeared as a result of these investigations that there was reason to believe that there may have been some wrongdoing he conferred with the Attorney General and with the Assistant in charge of the criminal division of the Department of Justice and cooperated fully to bring the matter expeditiously before the grand jury.

Ultimately Dean has plead guilty to a felony and seven former White House officials stand indicted. Their innocence or guilt will be determined in a court of law.

This is as it should be.

The recent acquittals of former Secretary Stans and former Attorney General Mitchell in the Vesco case demonstrate the wisdom of the President's actions in insisting that the orderly process of the judicial system be utilized to determine the guilt or innocence of individuals charged with crime, rather than participating in trials in the public media.

April 30, 1974 NOTE: The document was made available by the White House Press Office. It was not issued in the form of a White House press release.

This document, together with transcripts of recorded Presidential conversations, was printed by the Government Printing Office under the title “Submission of Recorded Presidential Conversations to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives by President Richard Nixon April 30, 1974" (1308 pp.).

It can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 20402, for $12.25.

10 Presidential Documents 450-69

Subpoena of Presidential Tapes and Materials

The President's Letter to Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in Response to the Committee's Subpoenas. May 22, 1974

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This letter is in response to two subpoenas of the House of Representatives dated May 15, 1974, one calling for the production of tapes of additional Presidential conversations and the other calling for the production of my daily diary for extended periods of time in 1972 and 1973. Neither subpoena specifies in any way the subject matters into which the Committee seeks to inquire. I can only presume that the material sought must be thought relate in some unspecified way to what has generally been known as “Watergate.”

On April 30, 1974, in response to a subpoena of the House of Representatives dated April 11, 1974, I submitted transcripts not only of all the recorded Presidential conversations that took place that were called for in the subpoena, but also of a number of additional Presidential conversations that had not been subpoenaed. I did this so that the record of my knowledge and actions in the Watergate matter would be fully disclosed, once and for all.

Even while my response to this original subpoena was being prepared, on April 19, 1974, my counsel received a request from the Judiciary Committee's counsel for the production of tapes of more than 110 additional Presidential conversations of which 76 were alleged to relate to Watergate-together with a request for additional Presidential diaries for extended periods of time in 1972 and 1973.

The subpoenas dated May 15 call for the tapes of the first 11 of the conversations that were requested on April 19, and for all of the diaries that were requested on April 19. My counsel has informed me that the intention of the Committee is to also issue a series of subpoenas covering all 76 of the conversations requested on April 19 that are thought to relate to Watergate. It is obvious that the subpoenaed diaries are intended to be used to identify even more Presidential conversations, as a basis for yet additional subpoenas.

Thus, it is clear that the continued succession of demands for additional Presidential conversations has become a never-ending process, and that to continue providing these conversations in response to the constantly escalating requests would constitute such a massive invasion into the confidentiality of Presidential conversations that the institution of the Presidency itself would be fatally compromised.

The Committee has the full story of Watergate, in so far as it relates to Presidential knowledge and Presidential actions. Production of these additional conversations would merely prolong the inquiry without yielding significant additional evidence. More fundamentally, continuing ad infinitum the process of yielding up additional conversations in response to an endless series of demands would fatally weaken this office not only in this Administration but for future Presidencies as well.

Accordingly, I respectfully decline to produce the tapes of Presidential conversations and Presidential diaries referred to in your request of April 19, 1974, that are called for in part in the subpoenas dated May 15, 1974, and those allegedly dealing with Watergate that may be called for in such further subpoenas as may hereafter be issued.

However, I again remind you that if the Committee desires further information from me about any of these conversations or other matters related to its inquiry, I stand ready to answer, under oath, pertinent written interrogatories, and to be interviewed under oath by you and the ranking Minority Member at the White House. Sincerely,


[The Honorable Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.]

10 Presidential Documents 538

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