Transcript for Nixon was willing 'to do what was ever necessary to stay in power': Part 6
era almost like a mafia story. On June 17th, 1972, there was break in at the watergate office complex. Five men were nabbed in the democratic national headquarters here in Washington. Reporter: Is there anyone higher up involved in the conspiracy? What did the president know and when did the president know it? Reporter: The pressure today is building on president Nixon. Sort of lost control, a dangerous trait in a president. You must keep up the attack on the media. You've got to keep destroying their credibility. Nixon was orchestrating the coverup. I want this. I want that. I'm the president. Get it! The senate sprung into action. It started holding hearings. It had sex, love, hate, greed, you name it. The greatest show on the Earth. I knew it was going to be my word against his word. The scandal has now moved right to the doorway of the oval office in the white house. The American people were outraged. This guy's jumping all over me about watergate! No one is above the law. People have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well I am not a crook. Are you sorry you didn't burn the tapes? The answer is -- Impeach Nixon now! Impeach Nixon now! These are days of virtual paralysis within the top echelon of the white house staff because of nervousness, suspicion and uncertainty generated by the watergate scandal. No one was killed at watergate. No one profited from watergate, the way we handled it took what was basically a misdemeanor, a, and made it the crime of the century. There was an instability in the center of the Nixon white house and it was Nixon himself. When an emotionally unstable person gets power and then feels that they're invincible, they can do whatever they want to do, because they have that power, that's a dangerous course of action. Richard Nixon was looking for loyalty, blind loyalty. He was a man who didn't trust many people. John Dean, his white house counsel he was not a loyalist but he was willing to do what Richard Nixon wanted. John was only 32. Dean fascinated all of us because he had tassels on his loafer. And his hair was a little curled up a little bit. We thought that was pretty cool. He was a cool guy and a smart guy. After the watergate break-in, Dean was put in charge by the president of the cover-up. He was a lawyer. He knew that he had engaged in criminal activity. Nixon any further developments on watergate? John deal is watching it on an almost full-time basis and reporting to ehrlichman and me on a continuing basis. And no one else. One of the lawyers from the re-election committee came over to my office and said, "Hunt has a message for you, that if he doesn't get $120,000 he's gonna have some steamy things to say about what he did for John ehrlichman. He let it be known that he had enough explosive information and evidence on Richard Nixon that he would blow the white house out of the ground. Dean was unable to control this anymore and had to fully report to Nixon for the first time on, "Something's gonna give. We need a change in strategy." The reason I thought we ought to talk this morning is I think that 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. John Dean realized that -- that the coverup was -- was coming apart. Hunt is now demanding another seventy two thousand dollars for his own personal expenses. Another fifty thousand dollars to pay his attorney's fees, a hundred and twenty some thousand dollars. Wants it -- wanted it by the close of business yesterday. I decided I had to give him everything I could give him to get him to B -- end the cover-up, to just go in and blow it away. There's no denying the fact that the white house and ehrlichman, Haldeman and Dean are involved in some of the early money decisions. How much money do you need? He asks me, "Well, how much could it cost?" And I pulled out of thin air what I thought was the number that he'd find offensive. I would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next two years. It doesn't bother him at all. You could get a million dollars. And you could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten. MM hmm. I mean its not easy, but it could be done. It wasn't just tough politics. It was criminal behavior. It was the kind of behavior that a later generation would associated with the sopranos. That's the day I think I really first meet Richard Nixon. I met somebody who would do what was ever necessary to stay in power. With Dean he's beginning to worry, 'cause he doesn't trust him anymore. He saw John Dean as disloyal. And Dean, I think, rightly suspected that he was gonna be the fall guy. Trial proceedings open today in the celebrated watergate bugging case. There was a coverup and it worked until it didn't. Judge sirica was not a dumb dumb. He saw. He read the papers. He knew something really bad was going on here. Far more is involved here than the guilt or innocence of the seven defendants. If they are guilty, why did they do it and who put them up to it. The judge and jury will want to know. He did not believe that there weren't higher ups involved. He just had a good sniffer for corruption and for lying. These five burglars and the two other people involved as the masterminds came before him in court. He threatened them through their lawyers. "If they don't come clean," said John J. Sirica, "I'm gonna throw the book at them. And I can give them sentences of 40 years." And sirica, having a very good idea that somebody might crack. And -- they did. James Mccord, wrote a letter to the judge. In it he charged that perjury was committed during the trial. Mccord in his letter to judge sirica he said, "This thing is getting closer to the top than you think about." People lied on the stand, and you need to know this. I think we all, in the courtroom, kind of-gasped -- higher ups were responsible. It acknowledged that there was a cover up. So it was very significant. Today the watergate scandal became a whole new ballgame. Mccord implicated two Nixon aides in the break in. I had no knowledge of the watergate at all. And I don't think I ought to say anything further. Everybody began to realize that this wasn't just a third-rate burglary, as Ron Ziegler, president Nixon's press officer, said. Then you start hearing about bags of cash being delivered as hush money and I think that's what really got to the American public. Americans have been hearing about watergate since the scandal broke last June, but most have only recently begun paying attention all in the family. I'm up to here with watergate. I'm drowning water gate. Archie, the whole country's drowning in watergate. The president has access, actually, to turn down all thermostats. His critics claim he'll do anything to get the heat off. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and the louder they laugh. And that's what Nixon learned Watergate was not just a national tragedy. It was a personal tragedy. Things got worse and worse in the white house. Can you describe now that atmosphere for us? It was really like being besieged because every day there were new charges and rumors. My father was being buffeted by a whole windfall of charges and countercharges. Almost every day recently, the watergate has produced its quota of sensation. I was so upset that he was so upset that he was closing us all off. When he came over for dinner, it would just be to eat and leave. He didn't really want to have discussions. He wanted to keep the family at arms length from watergate. The first lady pat paks son you can see that water gate took a toll on her. The way she would handle it was assure him of her faith. She felt if my father could remain strong he could survive it. It became more tense. . More tense by the -- by the day, by the hour, by the minute. There's no question about it, there was a sense that we were constantly under siege, especially from the national media. And people felt they were all under attack, at a certain point they were all liable to be indicted. I was in trouble and I knew it -- we're on air force one and I'm standing on the flight deck and it occurred to me for about 30 seconds that I could crash this airplane and that would put an end to everybody's problems, mine and Nixon's and Halderman's and everybody, everybody who was aboard. The investigation was closer to Nixon, than it had ever been before, and Nixon knew that some dramatic change was necessary. If we went in with sackcloth and ashes and fired the whole white house staff, this isn't going to satisfy these goddamn cannibals. They'd still be after us. Who are they after? Hell they're not after Haldeman or ehrlichman or Dean, they're after me. The president. They hate my guts. Nixon thought, " if I offer up," as he said, " my right arm and my left arm at the same timethat that might be enough that the investigation stops there." I got a call from the president from camp David. The white house operator got me on the phone and there was a long, long delay before finally the president came on in a very muffled downbeat voice, and said, "I was wondering if you could get up here at 1:30 today." Bob Halderman called me and said, "The president wants to see us." I said, "What's up?" He says, "He's decided to fire us." The president then he began to sob, and I put my arm around his shoulder. It was at that point I was feeling more sorry for him than I was for myself. Today in one of the most difficult decisions of my presidency, I accepted the resignations of two of my closest associates in the white house. Bob Haldeman. John erlichman. Two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know. The counsel to the president, John Dean, has also resigned. "Two of the finest public servants I've ever known," said Nixon showing them the door hoping to save himself, of course. The biggest white house scandal in a century, the watergate scandal, broke wide open today. Reporter: The white house is in a state of shock. Was one of the most painful things he had to do in his political career. Hi. Hope I didn't let you down. No sir, you got your points over, now you got it set right and move on. Well, it's a tough thing, Bob, for you and for John and the rest. But I'm never going to discuss this Water gate thing again. Never ever ever ever. But let me say you're a strong man . I love I don't and I love John. God bless. I love you as you know
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