tv After Words CSPAN September 3, 2014 8:57pm-9:56pm EDT
these athings you can see every day. and the biggest take away i will like people to remember is this notion was founded on the rights come from god not government. if you think of that, look around me, read by book and see how far we strayed from that and once that is gone where else ask you go and live as free as we are supposed to be. >> host: that is at a great take a way. great book. i enjoyed it. it was hard to put down. a read a few things a couple times. you did a fabulous job and highly recommend this for everybody. anyone in the united states needs to read this book. thank you so much.
job well done. >> guest: thank you, theresa. >> after wards with bob woodward of the "washington journal." john dean and his latest book "the nixon defense: what he knew and when he knew it" in the book the testimony that led to nixon resigning presents an in depth look at the watergate scandal based on auto tapes. this program is about an hour. >> host: it is great to be here with john dean. i was recalling coming in here today at the studios which are on capital hill that it was 39 summers ago when you held the country and the world
mesmuerized with four days of sworn testimony before the senate watergate committee and there has been no news story like that since. and one thing that happened when the secret taping system was disclosed in the nixon office and phones and you didn't know about it. you suspected but didn't know. you had no confidence. then the tapes came out and showed what you said. ...
where nixon and his people were tampering with everybody's lines. >> i agree but the definition of watergate has so expand it the break-in, the cover-up the interference influence of the election process generally that nickelodeon abuse of power and as result of legislation today it has a very broad meaning. today we will talk about a very narrow area of that that is indicative. >> so why then 40 years later it is 40 years ago he resorting to it with a total of version in that period of the tapes until the end
assistance was disclosed. >> if i had known when i was getting into a would not have gotten into it. publisher suggested i might revisit the subject to the light of the 40th anniversary. and then through august 9 the period between the break-in and his resignation so i originally started out the question how could somebody as savvy as richard nixon, a politically very astute and intelligent mess up his presidency on the bone gold burglary the way he did? that is what i set out to answer.
sweat he found was an existing tapes but i had no knowledge until i started to catalog who taped what was available with hundreds of hours of tapes nobody had listened to were transcribed >> guest: there were over 600 conversations that nobody outside of the archives ever looked at. >> host: what did you learn? is somebody reads the book what will they have something they didn't know? >> every page has something i did not know we are very sophisticated readers but i did not know richard nixon at the outset ovate acknowledged information from his top domestic adviser former white house counsel and reporting of
"washington post" as well as others. >> host: time and time again he is angry about those articles he wonders how the information is getting out. >> guest: don't you wonder how he felt about that before? >> now you know, . he says that is the story in "the post" where is that going? is that coming from a skier or the committee or the fbi? but just to step back, what do we learn about nixon that we did not know? we knew about the abuse of power and the small minded is that everything seemed to be about nixon.
>> guest: i followed day by day to try to understand how this fell apart pipal way to win wide angle. that he had no visitation to break the law. no hesitation to do whatever he thought was a solution to a problem. but the most striking thing is the decision making is so sloppy in by the seat of his pants i was stunned and then i wonder if this doesn't reflect other areas of his presidency? particularly as it progresses. >> then do go on with watergate they are rambling.
>> and i have tai into them in there is no march through this to make a decision and to say something almost every and dumb. >> then 30 minutes later have the same conversation with somebody else. >> with contradictory things. >> exactly. >> at one point you say as a participant with is not from the inner circle but this was the devils' merry-go-round's? >> guest: that was the metaphor that i picked up as i was writing. i thought about that circular nature of the watergate conversations and how the same tune in the
same circle was repeated over and over. and then sitting right in the middle was richard nixon so this is the doubles mary around -- the devils merry-go-round. this is not deep thought this is expedia to thinking there were a good number of things that i learned was chock who was nixon's hatchet man someone who was always hanging in the shadows. >> i tried not to be pejorative to call him special projects. >> but eventually he pled guilty to related crimes and its seven months in jail. in bernstein and i wrote a
story saying that watergate was part of a larger part of sabotaging an espionage a bellpull lawyer who was hired to run all kinds of agents against nixon's opponents in the primaries. then to come into say it is absolutely fascinating i do a lot of things on the outside the you never read about it what you read about are the things i did not do but i did things out of boston, which was his home town, a black male. nixon says my god. even he is surprised. [laughter] he says i will go to my grave before i ever disclose
it but we did things that we never got caught but then he abruptly catches himself and of stops and a nixon never inquires with no curiosity. but if they did black male and a lot of things you either know about them or suspect or you would think he would want to know. i actually note that he made us similar post to me and also takes this to his grave we don't know what these things are it is interesting how he caught himself and nixon does not have the inclination to inquire. >> talk about that conversation because the footnote was he told you he did things that would send him to jail and they will
never come out because only i know about them. >> did you ask? to mckee would not tell me. he said i will not tell you what i did there is one way to keep the secret in the town is a fully you know, it and colson is deceased and nixon is deceased. >> but he took all of his presidential papers there all controversial he gave voice wanted to reach in college somebody to collect and they said there is nothing in there so he pruned out anything that was troublesome and it is gone and i assume so. >> was he part of those hidden forces? >> listening to the tapes
nixon is a different person with different people and responds that a different level he is always on a very high level but colson brings out his side. the two of them draw something. >> what do we learn about haldeman? >> we learn he is extremely intelligent. he seems most conscious they're taping from time to time. when it gets dicey he backs off and he will shut up or make gratuitous statements because he seems to click nixon occasionally remembers but he is not very cautious in fact, there is a
situation that happens in the end the taping machine has not been pulled out but he starts calling for meetings in the lincoln sitting room there is only one reason because that is how they decide they will deal with things in general wanted on tape. >> and he is looking for a pardon at this point. >> not at this point but at some point. >> it was to come. >> i think the quid pro quo with nixon is conversations if i survive this i will pardon people. so nobody would go to jail but the problem is he did not survive city did not honor his commitment because holderman from the final final-- tried desperately to
get a pardon. >> and from the moment he resigned he could have issued. >> probably one of the strongest presidential powers never a good contest it just unchecked power. >> one of the many that fascinated me of couple of weeks before holderman resigned. >> it is amazing how he has to manipulate them. >> i had no idea that he really has to. >> then did deceive each other.
but then this struck me because ehrlichman talks about the watergate cover-up to say there were eight or 10 people around the white house the first holderman says all kinds of people knew about the cover-up then nixon said i knew it. but then realizing he had just confessed realizing he had been recorded he immediately tried rather awkwardly then he is heard to say i know but i did not know. this gobbledygook you dig it out you realize that they all know.
>> they confess it is clear. >> with a covering up? >> initially it is clear nixon and covers up for mitchell he is concerned for his friend holderman once told me he believes he was president because of john mitchell right or wrong he was as campaign manager, his friend and encouraged him to do it and made a possible so he just felt great affection for mitchell and did not want this to /. that is where this starts the he is very worried in this is very interesting just looking at the facts looking in a very interesting way. >> i did have a good editor
and i tried to stay out of it. but one of the things that is very apparent very early he is concerned if he says something that has triggered the watergate break-in. i didn't elaborate but you can tell from the tone of voices that i think he thinks he told somebody to break-in because i put of footnote on the "pentagon papers" episode he is pounding on his desk. >> host: they suspected there was the secret report on vietnam. and if you listen to that tape he is just in a rage. and he will not let it go.
surprise. and ehrlichman that neither toe nixon and haldeman hints vaguely there are some stirrings that could be a problem. i am not even sure how much. what happened is john mitchell within 48 hours of the arrest with two of his aides debrief liddy of there were two men in the break-in and then he tells them the other things the cia android
have you. so this is genuinely and unheard of. so had that not been the case i made a terrible mistake in done the right thing and was so worried with the white house his both feature in this has allowed. >> that is what drives the cover-up. that plan which nixon authorized with the additional break-ins and was authorized and rescinded because of the fbi director protest because he felt that was the fbi turf. and how dare you get
somebody else to do with it? limit because nixon in his own mind thought he was all right to. he knows it is politically troublesome but would not have gone as far as he did because of the watergate break-in. >> first of all, there are conversations that carl bernstein and i talked to the former congressman who replaced mitchell as the campaign manager for nixon and mcgregor said nixon and mitchell had a meeting a few days after watergate in the residence of the white house and of mcgregor was able to say what he learned to from mitchell was there all day
their cards on the table for things they did not know about. the fact that mcgregor was deceased but if you look at that point there is the time in the tapes but they just cover up. it did not concern nixon but it did. you proved it to but i really thought this was interesting because it is clearly illegal and everybody knows that. nixon approved that and on this tape nixon says high order them to use any means necessary including legal.
and tells the people at the time that they could never admit that. [laughter] so clearly that was my whole view with the whole series of activities, illegal activities to come together and that watergate burglary five people that were rested with the democratic headquarters you're on the sock that would pull that down. >> what was interesting is nixon's reaction the first
weekend but nixon was wise enough to walk it back in to'' himself as your save that he could not remember from that we can from the 18th and 19th dealing with 1972 he did know what his staff had told him that it really made it here say and said nixon blood have been so angry that the committee was involved that was not surprising. >> did people about the watergate burglary? >> i don't think so. i don't think he planted the
blood but i do think that had paid not been arrested that though watergate on the night of the 17th although headed for mcgoverns headquarters, if they were arrested there is you could trace it back to the oval office because he gives the extraction to holderman at the headquarters. what does that mean? it could mean a lot of things. but haldeman takes that to tell gordon to tell city to change the operation. if they were arrested at mcgovern's headquarters the order comes straight from the oval office. but i don't think the plant you looking at the context of the other conversations
looked like civilian. >> so city takes anything. >> what is nixon's legacy now? >> one of the things that people might look at as a result of the way i could get and and dig out is his decision making is pretty shoddy. how far and how wide was this information leak? >> that does not change the you. >> it could explain somebody like kissinger from epa through china that they drove the decisions. you concede he suffers. >> but he tries to tease out
people what they know. >> there is some of that. >> but he also tries to clarify. >> history will not judge him as a management consulting team but will judge him whether he was good, he accomplished things, i cared about the people he represented. >> guest: they will judge him in the context of other presidents. as you know, i may porting biographer. up president who has a bad rap and no one has understood it because they don't have the facts. as long as the facts of nixon's presidency and watergate he will not we well respected he will not be an admired figure.
he can be. >> host: but what the new tapes and old tapes show is that he almost had the fear of the presidency as an instrument that he could use for personal revenge. >> and settle scores spin again in these tapes is says to laughter mcgovern, a dnc contributors come irs to run tax returns. and the more successful he is the more revengeful he becomes. reaches the pinnacle of his reelection with serious numbers from 1970 to. but what happens? he becomes more better.
how he will go after his enemies. this is not a gracious winner but he is also a troubled but did he seem happy? one of the things working for people that you discover that the editors at the "washington post" like ben bradlee really knew how to say look we will put this in the paper. but he was happy. he would make jokes and there was a spirit. >> nixon has very little sense of humor. >> no joy? >> i don't know. there is some conversations i did not answer because they were not relevant but occasionally i would stop but that a relationship with his daughters i am sure they were stunned to see this
other side of him. >> i think there was joy in his family and with his wife a loving relationship that you conversations i've listened to most was taken out as personal. so we have not seen one-third or half of what's available? because there are hundreds of hours estimate there is a treasure shrove there like we sat there all these years with nobody bothering to flush out the information to understand watergate but then goes to nixon before you come in to give your cancer on the presidency speech. they talk about the
democratic headquarters that functioned for a number of of weeks. and there is some pretty juicy stuff in there. a lot of this is held back. then they talk about the tapes. nixon says we ought to destroy the tapes. >> his tapes not the dnc. >> he actually orders holderman to do it twice. at the end he says insurer and nothing happens. >> i think he gets consumed with watergate himself after that and not being l. boyer she thought nixon would use these to his advantage to make a decision he would do nothing about it but what was interesting is after that point he leaves they continue having meetings
there were key meetings about future testimony. >> so there is a big portion that was taped that we don't know about. >> i would save 90 / 10. >> i just mean nixon being president. there is other issues. >> he did not know about it he says this is your craziness to take years and years of conversations through voice activated system. and they said it would take years.
>> it is remarkable. you once said that another president will never have a record like this again to trace this man's behavior from the beginning to the end. because you know, there could not be very different pattern after the plug was pulled it was just a of a repetition of what we have already learned to in his defense becomes trying to protect the tapes. >> i remember interviewing president obama going into the oval office with two tape recorders and his press secretary talks about the tapes then obama said kiddy
believe they taped everything and look at his press secretary. that will never happen again. not just to the words of this president into the courtyard where real decisions are made. but to watch and see how he handles this is not a pretty picture. >> but hidden in a positive way. >> there is no question
more than what he was being told spin mcfadyen say lesson to never assume. >> you wish you had? would it be different? >> and early on data chance to get out in front of it to stop to it if he would i don't know but he never had the chance the way i am told. plessey has those earlier actions what was the mind-set that nixon was the driver? that if you had said to haldeman june 72 a few days into the burglary, and this
has a bad aroma i need to talk to the president you would slim down your fist and said this is illegal. >> you were the president of the united states you can i do this, early thirties you do not go around push around the leader of the western world. bieber deal that situation much differently this point in a life but what i did to march 21st was tried to confront him with these problems one after another after another and he has a response for every one. i tell and he has committed perjury his response is perjury is the tough rap to prove. who knows how much it will cost? he said what could it? the apple a figure out of thin air and i said it could
cost $1 billion over the next couple years it was five and a half million but was trying to stun him if he said we cannot raise that kind of money. but i know where we can get it and in cash. we will check the slush fund they had 400,000. he was already looking for it to. >> i am not sure if i went in it would have been different because it that point of was trying to warn him but i realized nobody has warned him. >> host: as i mentioned to you the one thing i disagreed with that you say on page 209 you don't believe it was an organized effort of the espionage and sabotage. you are quite firm of god
you never found see existence so if it existed is a fancy scenario for one of those sources named keith throat by the editor of the "washington post". >> before i responded very surprised how much we knew? >> i was astounded they said they are leaking than haldeman says you cannot do anything. we cannot fire him or throw him out because he knows everything. >> host: anyway to answer answer, if your series where i gave you full credit to for merging the issues with
the abuse of power in this use of campaign operations to put watergate as part of a larger picture which is today's definition of watergate and the post melded that information to change forever into something more than about gold burglary. is there a central organization running a 50 state campaign of sabotage? i'd never heard of it to i never had any evidence. where was it going? >> but it existed. >> they found he ran 22 people spying on the musky campaign sending of cody
literature. >> that was not coming back to the white house. >> but it was an operation set up. >> we could debate this for a full hour or more and we have agreed to disagree. [laughter] >> guest: i get your point. >> but what i think it is important that is validated by your book. if we can achieve a lower means bill is political means to use screws somebody with a public-relations victory go to its there is no barrier. look in details what the committee did what the of operatives did to muskie it drove him from the race or is it helped to get a
nominee they wanted, george mcgovern that was more to the left. it was a big political victory that worked. if you think of watergate as a burglary or just the cover-up, it masks the dimensions because they were to do these things to candidates but really you take one candidate stationary putted out to accuse another of mild sexual improprieties and you get chaos. >> get all they that was directed from the white house to do that. but let's not debate that back-and-forth. but in my senate testimony i said exactly this, it was the mind-set, a predisposition a
do-it-yourself white house to gather intelligence by whatever means they thought they could do it and it came right from the top of the white house when presidents wear hats all their staff wear hats win presidents have fires in their fireplace and of this death does so we're really comes from the top senate that concentration of power is astounding. >> it is. because congress doesn't want to take these:to pick the area of intelligence. but congress did not want
oversight but just don't tell us how you do it to. this is what we have this concentration of power. the legislative branch cannot grapple with these things it does not grapple well with them. >> but nixon exercised his power in the astonishing way. but the idea that they say i blackmailed. [laughter] >> let me ask you this. i thought you might in particular find the story of ziegler who's taylor has never been told.
who has a history for the nixon library in the only record we have now are these tapes and he plays a significant role to fills the role haldeman had as the presidency progresses. >> is the final days with the new chief of staff ziegler, were the ones that went to nixon and listen to to him. no doubt it is true but no one ever established siegler had primary firsthand knowledge of a crime the other than what he heard from nixon.
>> could you name him as a co-conspirator? >> because he wasn't the odd role. >> and when we wrote stories he denounced us regularly. >> use of that conversation? i want to apologize syndicated publicly. but then leased in my mind it was important to and okay you did your job now move into the next phase but that problem is your tapes show a continuing cover-up. >> the cover-up of the cover-up. >> frank gannon who worked for nixon was a defender in the review of the "wall street journal" of your book
says a couple of things that i want to ask you about that you left out some things. >> guest: i have not read the review yet but someone told me i omitted part of the march 21st conversation and where nixon said but it would be wrong he forgets haldeman went to jail for saying that. that is not in that conversation is has been publicly available for decades. it is on the web site. go to the web site and read the transcript and listen and you will find that he is dead wrong. >> host: the second thing he says that the mint is there are many mysteries about watergate now. i don't think there are mysteries we know too much but he says we don't know who ordered the break-in and we don't know what they were looking for.
>> guest: i think no question looking for financial information of some sort i have an appendix to gather worry throat every conversation put in summary form and no question this is what the white house understood what i did not add and what i have done elsewhere to show everybody involved with that break-in thought there were looking for financial information. him once said that was the instructions he was given. under oath. >> but there were probably looking for dirt a fishing expedition. >> who ordered it? >> no doubt in my mind how what happened and i don't go into great depth that all but what happens is when mitchell approves the plan, watergate is a part of
the dnc. and liddy is sent on the mission. when the fruits comeback macgregor told me at the time extemporaneously and he has testified to the fact also i left my cellphone on. [laughter] he testified clearly the results were such junk that mitchell calls him after he looks at the material to say this is worthless and not what we paid for. and macgregor loves this. >> he is number twos. ion is always that lady had to clean this up on his own and did not tell anybody he would break in the second
time but the original plan and in the briefings was to break into mcgoverns headquarters. so it is clear lady takes the group back in the second time. he claims he told the others that mitchell insisted. i don't think mitchell insisted that all i think he said the stuff was junk. and lydia's highly manipulative person i think when he put together the will he does a the years after the fact to then remember what he remembers i am the first to tell you memory is not the best source. i remembered it so many things. there are contemporaneously records and we make mistakes >> host: one of the things you do it in your life is the '02 lawyers to talk
about bar association's common this kind of situation and lawyers should do. if you are a teacher and you taught a class on watergate? and you wanted to tell the students with a grand synthesized way what this was and what is the lesson citizens should take away from this scandal? >> we had 20 lawyers on the wrong side of the lot at least. that is the best i can count maybe others got on but everybody who worked at the nixon white house knew the difference between right and wrong.
and we have a great leader in our bet everything that i thought was wrong when i pulled up the lawbooks was wrong. so to me the lesson is that it feels wrong probably is. double check. we have an interesting situation. >> and if you are in your 30's and a lawyer in the white house major hand, bang down the door, maybe it takes extraordinary amount of courage for somebody to do that. >> i blew up one break-in at brookings and they never thanked me for saving their building. [laughter] >> that is one lesson. we have good sense. >> for lawyers what is a result of watergate there is
a set of rules and have never existed it is interesting because they developed real world ethics and in my situation you have to report to the top person if necessary. >> eight clear that up it is a fascinating conversation. the white house counsel the president is not his client is a big difference he has to protect the entity and not to the occupant this is true like corporations. council represents the organization. >> common sense should prevail. >> you have to say mr. president for the office of the president
march 21st would have been different i would say if you don't hear my warning and don't believe this is a problem, i have depending how the rules were written at that time, i have the duty to report to go to congress to tell them this. that is a lot of leverage. >> host: who was nixon? >> guest: one very fascinating character, a complex individual, a different person with different people, a chameleon, intelligent, at the same time remarkably stupid to make some of the mistakes he makes shows the level of incompetence i didn't think existed. >> host: don't you think he thought he had immunity? not legally but he is the president. no one will challenge him.
sova starts with the tapes that you thank you can do this? it wasn't done just to you but all of the foreign leaders and anyone that said the confidence that people should expect. we will not care about that is semi interest but then it was disclosed no one will never get those. >> he is troubled by that fact and a couple of conversations he says i don't feel comfortable doing this. he knows it is wrong but does not pull the plug. >> what is amazing about this book that seals the
conclusion and what you have done as close to this at the same time it is a very long book and all of the detail for someone who wants to relive bin technicolor it with many hours will retell the story. >> as a presidential scholar he said it was not an easy read because it is painful. it reminds us of those periods better enough when you write a book you have an audience