Taped Nixon Conversation With White House Counsel John Dean Proves He Knew Nothing About Watergate in Advance of the Burglary
TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDING OF A
MEETING ON MARCH 21, 1973, FROM
10:12 TO 11:55 AM.
John Dean explains the origins of Watergate to President Nixon.
There’s no doubt about the seriousness of the
problem we’ve got. We have a cancer–within, close
to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s
growing daily. It’s compounding, it grows
geometrically now because it compounds
itself. Uh, that’ll be clear as I explain
you know, some of the details, uh, of why it
is, and it basically is because (1) we’re
being blackmailed; (2) uh, people are going
to start perjuring themself very quickly
that have not had to perjure themselves to
protect other people and the like. And that
is just–and there is no assurance–
PRESIDENT: That it won’t bust.
DEAN: That, that won’t bust.
DEAN: So, let me give you the sort of basic facts’
talking first about the Watergate; and then
about Segretti; and then about some of the
peripheral items that, uh, have come up.
First of all, on, on the Watergate: How did
it all start, where did it start? It
started with an instruction to me from Bob
Haldeman to see if we couldn’t set up a
perfectly legitimate campaign intelligence
operation over at the Re-election Committee.
Not being in this business, I turned to
somebody who had been in this business, Jack
Caulfield, who is, I don’t know if you
remember Jack or not. He was your original
DEAN: …they had…
DEAN: …candidate, candidate…
DEAN: …protection, an old New York City
PRESIDENT: Right, I know, I know him.
DEAN: Uh, Jack had worked for John and then was
transferred to my office. I said, “Jack,
come up with a plan that, you know, is a
normal infiltration, I mean, you know,
buying information from secretaries and
all that sort of thing.” He did, he put
together a plan. It was kicked around, and,
uh, I went to Ehrlichman with it. I went to
Mitchell with it, and the consensus was that
Caulfield wasn’t the man to do this. Uh, in
retrospect, that might have been a bad call,
’cause he is an incredibly cautious person
and, and wouldn’t have put the situation to
where it is today.