Nixon's men organize intelligence operation for his re-election campaign: Part 2

Operation Gemstone was a plan of "dirty tricks" and "political tactics" leading up to the election year of 1972.
7:23 | 06/17/17

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Transcript for Nixon's men organize intelligence operation for his re-election campaign: Part 2
??? Reporter: '72 was a very busy year for me. It was a year when we had the visit to China. It was a year when we had the visit to Moscow. And then in December of course the most difficult decision I made of the December bombing, which did lead to the uneasy peace but it is peace with all the Americans home all of our pows home. Now during that period of time, frankly, I didn't just manage the campaign. I didn't run the campaign. People around me didn't bring things to me that they probably should have. Because I was frankly just too busy trying to do the nation's business to run the politics. If mistakes were made however I'm not blaming the people down below. The man at the top's gotta take the heat for all of it. Nixon had very loyal men around him. Folk who were willing to walk over broken glass. He exploits that. Nixon exploits that. And he gets them to do his bidding. Nixon had a tendency to surround himself with these young, southern California ad agency types. The white house staff, as it evolves, I think you will find will be smaller than it's been in the past. I know you'll find it will be the youngest one in history, certainly one of the youngest. Richard Nixon managed to charm them. The charm was so strong he pulled them over the line. He encouraged them to do things that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise done. And they seemed to be involved in one giant contest to prove to the boss who could be tougher. Who could be more ruthless. And critics call them the Germans and describe their office as the Berlin wall. I'm speaking of president Nixon's chief white house advisors John erlichman and H.R. For Harry Robbins Haldeman. Haldeman and ehrlichman were, like, brothers to Nixon at times. I mean they served in every possible personal and professional role for him. Haldeman and erhlichman understood the importance of protecting the president. I knew Haldeman to say hello to, although he was a much-feared figure. And I remember my father used to call him the "Jolly steel buzz saw." You wanna understand Bob Haldeman? Look at his haircut. Bob Haldeman was the chief of the staff to the white house. And people said, "Whatever Haldeman knows, the president knows." In February of 1972, the election year, there was one reputable poll that said that one of his opponents, was within one point of beating him in an election. And clearly Mr. Nixon said, "I'm gonna make certain that my enemies don't get me." Democratic front runner George Mcgovern. Operation jump stone was a plan of dirty tricks and political tactics leading up to the election year of 1972. Nixon would call it hard ball. It wasn't just tough politics. It was criminal behavior. I said if you're talking about an all out full out offensive and defensive political intelligence operation you're talking about one hell of a lot of money. G. Gordon Liddy put together a mad cap of crimes. Each different operation was given a name of a precious gel. We quickly ran out of precious jewels. By the time we were finished we were down to coal and brick. Liddy was a cowboy, a hot shot. He could do it. When you hire Liddy you're hiring a guy that's going to do what he's told to do. We later learned Gordon Liddy plotted to kill jack Anderson the columnist. He brushed by me and said Jeb just told me to take care of jack Anderson. I said I'm I don't know my way to kill jack Anderson. I went into Mcgruder's office and said Jeb did you tell him to rub out jack Anderson. I said to Gordon I was talking off the cuff. I wasn't serious. Liddy looked at me with that stern look and said never give me an order for a hit job that you don't mean because I'll do it. The irony he had been an FBI officer. Yet he comes out of the FBI environment and he's ready to break laws at the request of the executive. Gordon Liddy goes to the department of justice. He's in the attorney general's office and Gordon Liddy present operation jump stone under which they'll break into the DNC offices in the water gate complex but they'll hire a houseboat to place outside of the fountain B hotel in Miami during the democratic convention. They'll put prostitutes on this houseboat with cameras. They'll lure democratic delegates on to the houseboat and photograph them. This was the man who was going to okay or not this collection of crimes. They asked for one million dollars and John Mitchell didn't say are you guys crazy get out of here. That's all illegal. That's crazy. No he said it's too expensive. Please come back with a lower budget. There was pressure from the white house from me and the president to the exit tee to get their campaign intelligence activity going. To me it was a throw away project. Give Liddy the quarter million dollars and satisfy the white house. Mitchell said let's go with it. I have remember at the beginning there was a sense of the master mind of all of this is Gordon Liddy. Well, history now has established the master mind was Richard Nixon. So when we come to the water gate story it was perfectly in character even though he looked like he was set up for a pretty comfortable reelection campaign it was perfectly in character for him to say I want every advantage. I will approve this. I will approve that. He thought if he played it straight he might lose. So he played it a little crooked. I was called in by Jeb Stewart Mcgruder to his office. He said can you get into the water gate office building? ??? Over the weekend five men were nabed in the Democrat national headquarters in Washington seemingly preparing to tap or bug the place.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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