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tv   Open Phones  CSPAN  December 30, 2014 10:16pm-10:53pm EST

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the soviet union and the united states and china had to manage this relationship. who is going to be troublesome and have a lot of rough spots in such a way that we never went to war against each other. he really believed that and he believed in his own capacity to achieve this. i'm much more of a skeptic than richard nixon was. he did believe he did create a generation of peace and i think china was a very large part of it. how we manage the relationship now between china and japan, i think you would be talking seriously strongly and directly to the chinese. not to ruin all the benefits that have come out in the relationship as it has grown in the 40 plus years since he went there. that's all i can say that he was very proud of the fact that he
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had open china up and he had gone there to the people's republic. >> in the middle of the room our final question from a young man from laguna nagao. >> thank you. with what's going on now in the middle east and once again the united states and the russians seem to be playing this game of tactics or whatever you want to call it. you had mentioned before that egypt was removed from the eastern bloc bloc and to the west. now it seems that that's either going to be slowly going back and the other middle eastern states are going back to russia. how do you see all that playing out when you watch these things? what's going through your mind because he wants to go the other way. >> my view is that my view of the russians is different than the number of folks. there's no question putin wants
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crimea back. putin to me is responding to what happened when his god in kiev whom he had cut a deal with to have ukraine come into his economic union was dumped over by the crowds in the streets in kiev encouraged by the united states and all the others. i think he saw that as a coup d'├ętat managed by the americans. he said they are not going to get my navel pension for basketball. i'm not going to russian naval base that we have had for 200 years absolute nato soldiers. he went in ... but i don't see him as the big player in the middle east. i don't see rushes the big player in the middle east at all. i think the middle east is going its own way. you can find out what's going on in the middle east by studying the 30-year war in europe. the catholics and the
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protestants and the turmoil of religion and the states involved which carried a third of the population to germany. i think that is -- that's sort of started off on its own track. the middle east and ukraine, i'm a little apprehensive over the terrible horror that took place with the downing of that aircraft that the downing of that aircraft wisdom not deliberate mass murder but somebody made a horrendous military blunder that brought that down and now putin is on the spot. many republicans are calling for weapons to ukraine. if he urged the ukrainians to humiliate the russians you are probably putting putin and the point where he's going to have to respond. the ukrainians try to take that crimea there is going to be a war and the ukrainians are going to lose it.
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if we put weaponry and everything else in their for the ukrainians you are going to find united states and russia face to face their. so i'm very apprehensive over what's going on in ukraine. with regard to the middle east you know i just don't think the united states should go back in there with more and more troops. when the iraqi army will not even fight and defend mosul wednesday -- have to retrieve it it. [applause] he is the ron sigler that stops the press conference. >> thank you pat buchanan. let's show our presentation for great -- let's show our appreciation for great presentation. [applause] pat, don't leave before her
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present you with our great gift. we expect to see you using that on the mclaughlin -- and fox. you know this is your home away from home so please come back. ladies and gentlemen pat will be in the front lobby signing yearbooks which coincidentally are now on sale at our museum store. for those of you on television if you would like an autographed book you can order it via www.nixon foundation.org. thank you all for coming. god bless you and god bless america. [applause]
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>> we are in a private suite of the private quarters for the president and first lady. when i say pray that i do mean that. this is not part of a tour that's offered to the public.
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this has never been opened to the public and you are saying seeing it because of c-span's special access. the i.t.'s come to this base just as they did in london johnson's day but it's not open to visitors on a daily basis. the remarkable thing about this space is it's really a living breathing room. it hasn't changed at all since president johnson died in january of 1973. there's a document in the corner of his room signed by among others have been archivist of the united states and lady bird johnson telling my predecessors, myself and my successors that nothing in this room can change. so we are here at the 100 block of congress avenue in allston. to my left just down the block is the river, the colorado river and this is an important historic site in the city's history because this is where waterloo's assessors. waterloo gets to the cluster of
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cap is occupied by 445 cam -- four or five families. i'm standing at the spot where the carol kevin was. this is where he was staying when he and the rest of the men got wind of this big buffalo herd in the vicinity. lamar and the other man jump on their horses. congress avenue in those days was just a muddy ravine that led to the hill of the capital and galloped on their horses. they stuff their belts full of thistles and rode into the midst of this herd of buffalo firing and shouting. and lamar at 810 congress shot this enormous buffalo. from there he went to the top of the hill where the capitalists and that's where he told everybody that this should be the future empire.
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in january the new congress will see the largest gop house majority since the 1928 elections. with 240 and 47 republicans to 188 democrats. republicans take the senate majority with 54 seats and 44 for the democrats. plus two independents who will caucus with the democrats. and the 114 congress will have 102 members who served in the military. in the house there will be 81 veterans and in the senate 21 veterans. in the house 24 veterans served in the wars in the dash iraq and afghanistan and three senators who served in iraq and afghanistan. booktv travel to the 2014 miami book fair last month. one discussion featured former nixon adviser john dean author of "the nixon defense" what he knew and when he knew it and also the story of rick perlstein
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who wrote the invisible bridge. the fall of nixon and the rise of -- [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. it's a sunny day in miami. my name is pascal charlo. and the dean of the miami-dade college and it's an absolute pleasure to be with you for the 2014 miami book fair international. the book fair is grateful for the support of the knight foundation american airlines and many other generous supporters. we would also like to acknowledge special people in the audience today.
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friends of the book fair and i see some of you here. thank you for your continued support. [applause] today's presentation features two speakers that you know. we will reserve time for q&a. as you enter the would have been given an index card. please be certain to jot your questions down on the card and pass them to the right on this site and i guess to the right on that site as well. we will be collecting them throughout the program. lastly at this time we invite you to please silencer cell phones and of course enjoy the program. please join me in welcoming the mayor of miami beach philip levine. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you. good morning everybody. welcome. it's a great windy morning but thank god it doesn't look like
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grade. it's a great day for a book fair and as we say in miami beach at the sprinkles a little bit it's not really rank him as just liquid sunshine. i'm philip levine the mayor of miami beach and let me get right into the introduction. i'm so honored to be here to introduce both these gentlemen do i grew up listening to it a lot if you opted in will be very exciting. john dean was a weak legal to president nixon during the watergate scandal and instead of testimony helped with his resignation. he testified before the senate judiciary committee investigating george w. bush's nsa warrantless wiretap program. he is a "new york times" best-selling author of blind vision conservatives without conscience. in his latest book "the nixon defense" what he knew and when he knew it dean connects the dots between what we have come to believe about watergate and
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what actually happened. in a "the nixon defense" dean draws on his transcripts of 1000 conversations a wealth of nixon's secretly recorded information and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the national archives in the nixon library to provide the definitive answer to questions what did president nixon know and when did he know it? and what will stand as the most authoritative account of one of america's worst political scandals "the nixon defense" shows how the disastrous mistakes of watergate could have been avoided and offers a cautionary tale for on time. i've been a big fan of john dean because their member does a kid during the watergate scandals arise on tv and my parents let me stay home from school so from that point forward i thought he was the greatest guy in the world. also we are going to introduce rick perlstein theauther nixonland the race for president in the fracturing of america. "new york times" bestseller.
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before the storm barry goldwater and unmaking of the american consensus. his essays and books have been published in "the new yorker" than at times "washington post" the nation the village voice and slate among others. his latest book is "the invisible bridge" the fall of nixon and the rise of reagan. in january of 1973 richard nixon announced the end of the vietnam war and prepared for a trip in second term until televised watergate hearings hastened his downfall. the american economy slumped into a prolonged recession as americans began thinking about the nation has no more providential than any other country and the pundits declared that from now on successful politicians will be the ones who honored this chastened national mood. ronald reagan never got the message against the backdrop of melodrama from the oil embargo to patty hearst to the near bankruptcy of america's greatest city.
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"the invisible bridge" asked the question would have to me to believe in america? so i'm honored to bring out our first speaker who will be john dean. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. i have got these new glasses in case i need to look at my notes. i typically don't but i must say i found something good about getting old and that is i had cataract surgery. as i was about to head out to do it might doctor said i'm glad for you. he said just do it. i am now better than 20/20 vision. so i got these glasses but then i started wearing these glasses and a friend of mine said he
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know john no one is going to recognize you. you used to wear those around kind of things. he was right. the first week i had the mind i went to lax true story. a guy came up to me and sized me up he thinks he knows me. he finally comes up and gets the courage and he says didn't you used to be dick cheney? [laughter] well this morning we are going to talk about political histories and it looks like i have done about eight by most counts. some are biographical and some are autobiographical and some of them are little bit of both. it's because i happen to know so much about. mecca for straight i sometimes wish i didn't know as well as i did that i've mentored again into watergate with the latest book.
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my editor said to me as we were approaching the 40th anniversary of nixon's departure from office he said isn't there any question you have at this late date you might want to find the answer to? i thought about it in my said yeah i can't quite figure out how somebody who is seemingly intelligent and politically savvy as richard nixon could make the kind of mistakes he made that he could let lead a bungled burglary desecrate his entire presidency. so i said i think probably the tapes will tell that tale. while i might have to transcribe a few i don't think many. i think probably historians by now i've got through most of them. that was a mistake right away. as i started to go into the material i realized that nobody had ever catalogued or even made
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an attempt to catalog what might be called the watergate conversations. the national archives and in fact i have dedicated the new book to them given their 40 years of work on those tapes, they have gone through so they could release the tapes and make them public, every single conversation. it's a godsend. while they don't transcribe them they at least get you into the substance to release them because they withhold anything that is personal or national security. they listen to every conversation and the people who are speaking in the conversation and the gist of the conversation. when i started the new book that we are here today to talk about they hadn't digitize this yet but former
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assistant john ehrlichman. charge for the watergate cover-up. we listened to the conversations and tweaked them and they were good. the rest of the watergate prosecutor's conversations were not so good. the content was good but then they would have the wrong person speaking so i called one of my friends who used to be it in he said well these were first drafts by fbi secretaries so if
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they didn't recognize the voice and often they did and it's not so good so i realized i had to redo those. stanley cutler a historian who forced nixon to release the tapes much earlier than they wanted to release them also did about 320 watergate conversations. stanley did more than watergate. he did the pre-watergate as well well. they are all basically partial transcripts. so i realized i would have to redo stanley's conversations. but that was 400 conversations, 80 by the prosecutors, 320 by cutler and there were 600 more conversations that the best i can tell nobody outside the national archives ever listened to. so i realized this was a huge assignment. i started to see how difficult
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it would be transcribing some of these myself particularly those where there was a rough draft where preliminary transcripts. it is tough work. this is a pretty primitive system and in fact i told my wife maureen to whom i am still married. that's a question i get everywhere i go. in fact i told her, i said you know god forbid i had headset song often and then i would turn the speakers up in my writing area very loud and i would say you know the men in our family start losing their hearing in their 70's like i am now in god forbid the last voice i hear as richard nixon. [laughter] i can hear you this morning so i'm glad that didn't work out. anyway i plowed through these and quickly realized i was going to have to have some help. so i got graduate students and a friend of mine who teaches it out in california.
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actually he's a historian betty teaches archival science as well well. he started supplying some students who were hoping to the arc hoping to be archivist hoping to the arc of his one day and boy did they get lucky or did i get lucky because one of the first ones he found was a woman who had been a former legal secretary. she was a little bit older than the other students. she was working on her master's at that point. she has now just about completed her doctorate and we put braces on her daughter in this project. so it worked out really well for her. she ended up doing 500 of these conversations. it was impressive because these can run anywhere from five minutes to literally eight hours. there is one conversation of nixon listening to tapes of my conversations so it's a tape of him listening to tapes.
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i said charity don't do my tapes. we will do those separately but just get what he says around them and what have you. so is a huge assignment and it took us four years to do it. i wanted to get them in front of me because i knew i didn't know the content of a lot of these conversations. i thought it way better -- be better to keep it interesting and kind of start at the beginning and new revelations that came came from the conversations would be interesting to me as well. i got them all in front of me before i started. the wave broke down his nixon and this was a surprise to me is not involved terribly in watergate at the outset. he actually tells haldeman to break in -- the break-in did occur on june 171972.
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i've got 25 minutes before the hook comes out so i does want to be careful. he tells haldeman on air force one to have nobody talk to him. in other words this is willful ignorance. he really doesn't want to know what's going on great but for those of you who read the book you will see and in writing the book i don't do this. i don't give a lot of my interpretations. i give enough information for the reader to know things that i know but i hadn't gone through these tapes so readers could reach their own conclusions. one interesting thing that happens in the early weeks while he's not getting a lot of information from haldeman who is his principle source secondarily ehrlichman his white house top domestic adviser and thirdly the "washington post" were supplying a lot of information at that point said that fit. as he goes through the house
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questions from time to time. the thing that surprised me is when pressing haldeman and ehrlichman for information he doesn't get answers. they have their own problems with what happened. how many here witnessed and followed watergate live? well we know how old you are. a lot of you remember this. but the details will be a little hazy at this point all these years later. as they see the information haldeman and ehrlichman have their own problems. the break-in occurred on june 17 june 17, 2nd break-in occurred on june 171972 right in the middle of the 72 campaign. nixon is out of town. he returns from florida on the
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20th. that's the first conversation that is recorded. it's the one where the 18.5 minute gap will occur as well and i understand they passed out some sort of questions if you want to have a question today. we will be happy to go through this. anybody who hasn't filled that out yet who has a question and i don't get to it today if it's a really intriguing question i somehow miss put your e-mail on there and i will answer. i will be happy to because i want maybe i won't get to all of them. anyway haldeman and ehrlichman have their own problems. ehrlichman had been responsible for howard hunt along with gordon liddy and organizing the watergate break-in. at most -- i guess most people
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remember liddy. i was asked yesterday what i thought of him. i was doing a "cnn" documentary on the 70s like they did on the 60s. that's in progress now and for some reason they wanted to talk to me and they talked to me for four hours about it. lady came up and i said you know libby has left the image in post-watergate of being someone who nixon had brought in sort of the james bond character he brought into the white house for special assignments which is not true. even more importantly it's not true that he's the james bond character. he's not quite up to the maxwell smart level character. he is a huge bug where but anyway ehrlichman's problem is he brought junta to the white house and he had authorized
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earlier long before watergate in the fall of 1971 or break-in into daniel ellsberg's psychiatrist office. this will actually drive the watergate cover-up from the white house perspective. otherwise i think haldeman would have gone into the president and said listen mitchell the head of the campaign made a mistake. this is dangerous. we have got to cut them loose but they couldn't do that because this problem of blood hunt and whitty did while they were at the white house. so there's a lot of animosity also that comes through between mitchell who thinks ehrlichman has given him this problem and send it over to the re-election committee and on the other side on ehrlichman's behalf leading lady break into the watergate. he knows that had to come from the highest level of the re-election committee.
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while mitchell isn't confessing at this point everyone knows this would not have happened without his blessing. anyway so these two men have trouble so they don't really tell the president much of anything. in fact he won't learn about the ellsberg break-in until and remember the arrest occurred on june 171972. nixon will not learn about the ellsberg break-in until march 17 march 17, 1973 when it comes up in a conversation with me. i won't see the president for eight months. the first eight months and these were the tapes that nobody could listen to. everything that was key to the cover up, every single thing from the watergate defendants to the perjury of jed mcgruder to
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make that first phase of the cover-up work those are just two highlights. everything necessary nixon had been told about and approved. so it's not that he is unaware rock of the loop so to speak of the cover-up. he has blessed everything and haldeman has taken his cues from the president and authorized a lot of these activities. so, the tapes themselves to me there is not a page i would write in the book i didn't learn something i didn't know before. small things, big things. i didn't know that nixon had literally -- perjured jed mcgruder. i didn't know nixon sold ambassadorship to raise money for the watergate defendants.
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all these things come through and by also as a result of going through all of this came to a very clear conclusion of why nixon's presidency went down. there's only one person. while the staff did not serve him well a personal example. as soon as liddy confessed to me about what it happened i go to ehrlichman one of my two superiors and tell him you know john we need a criminal lawyer in here. i'm not a criminal lawyer. i happen to realize today in the presidency was essential to the white house counsel be a highly experienced criminal lawyer but that wasn't the case. he just dismissed that with the wave of a hand. we would start making mistakes right from the beginning. i don't think that anybody planned to get involved in an
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obstruction of justice but slowly step-by-step we cross that line. it's quite evident to me how that happens. a lot of it is ignorance and doing things for political motives, a motive doesn't count when you are breaking criminal law. that might be something to consider in sentencing but certainly it's something we should have been aware of. in fact richard nixon really never hires an able criminal lawyer until he resigns his when he first gets one that really knows what the score is. i know that from talking to the prosecutors. i said did you ever feel there was anyone there that was anywhere close to your peers in dealing with this issues and they said no, nobody. they said we were just dumbfounded that they didn't get a good lawyer in there. so in looking at the trajectory
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of the tapes and watching nixon's day by day behavior i came to the very realistic conclusion that richard nixon is just not as smart as i thought he was. clearly his conversations about foreign-policy he's articulate, he knows the world. he's got clear thoughts and he is brilliant in many regards. when he starts talking about domestic policy there is very little he is good on. he bumbles, he stumbles, he is hesitant. the only exception to that oddly enough is finance. he's very good on the budget. he has strong feelings on spending but most of his conversations are halting. he is stuttering. he is sputtering and difficult. acoustically the oval office is
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pretty good. his telephone calls can be almost close to broadcast quality. the microphones are in the desks. they drilled holes in the dusk. his oval office which was woodrow wilson's desk, they put holes right there beside you in the front grade i happen to eyes besetting over microphone when my voice was recorded which actually i'm pleased with today because i wasn't saying anything that bothered me. i was telling him exactly the did -- the dire circumstances he was then. the eob office is terrible because nobody sat bare desk. so they are very difficult to transcribe and what we did and i've talked to other people who have transcribe tapes now and
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they all seemed to stumble into the sooner or later. there's only one way to do this and that's highly repetitive activity. you listen that it was megan. you listen in to change machines. i went out and actually digitized all of the archives tapes before the archives themselves and digitize them. you can manipulate that somewhat. if you get distortions on the voices but you can also pick up the words. so i got most of it in my book is not a book of transcripts but rather a true narrative and dialogue out of these tapes. i would end up with 21 volumes of three-inch notebooks that represent about 8500 pages roughly 4 million words with nixon on watergate. i told my editor i am not sure which was more difficult, the transcription to make the tapes or digesting them back down to a readable document. nixon gets highly highly
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repetitive late in the game. there are two phases to watergate. there is the cover-up and then there is the cover-up of the cover-up. that is one nixon has jumped in with both feet. the taping system comes out during the start of the cover-up of the cover-up when alex butterfield testifies and how hague the white house chief of staff has no idea that there was a voice-activated system. he knew nixon had taken a few people, principally made, but he did not know he had a voice-activated system. and hague just can't believe the president of the united states had every word recorded. for this political history as it happens i have probably the most remarkable primary
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