Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activiti...

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.Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building
Year Shot:
1973  (Actual Year)
Tape Master:
Original Film:
[01.17.34-MacNEILL in studio] MacNEILL states that one thing is clear after the third day of DEAN'S testimony, that there is no longer a plan to save all persons involved in Watergate from the White House by simply denying it all. States that "lines are clearly drawn", that those remaining at the White House lay blame for the coverup on DEAN, Jeb MAGRUDER, and John MITCHELL. [screen behind MacNEILL shows b/w photos of each principal as named:] MacNEILL states that, in return, DEAN has made it clear that he thinks the PRESIDENT, EHRLICHMAN, and HALDEMAN, are responsible. MAGRUDER has already testified, MITCHELL, scheduled to testify, could provide more information. MacNEILL describes MITCHELL as former ATTORNEY GENERAL and former law partner of NIXON, and says he has yet said very little, except for issuing blanket denials, MacNEILL mentions that Mitchell's Wife had opined that MITCHELL was the fall guy chosen by the White House. Since MITCHELL won't testify until July 10, it will be interesting to see what the White House does, indications that it's posture toward DEAN will become much more aggressive, also interesting to see if the Prosecutors limit the investigation by filing more charges. [01.18.50-LEHRER] LEHRER states that there were two major happenings at the hearings that day, first, Sen. GURNEY made a long and intense examination of DEAN, and then Sen. INOUYE read the White House memo "a strong Anti-DEAN statement". Introduces guest commentators Bill GREENHALGH of Georgetown University law school and Steven HESS, former NIXON staffer currently at BROOKINGS INSTITUTION. LEHRER asks for assessment of Sen. GURNEY'S interrogation. [video out-01.19.37] GREENHALGH says he thought GURNEY'S examination was quite intense and methodical, indicated by the fact that most of the time, he was forcing DEAN to give yes or no answers, but the best part of the cross-examination was that, in his opinion, GURNEY was successful in introducing some doubt about the September 15, 1972 meeting in which NIXON told DEAN "good job"-GURNEY was successful in forcing DEAN to concede that it was possible that he misinterpreted NIXON'S remark, and that NIXON was complimenting him on investigating and not covering up. [01.20.09-video back] This would therefore not be evidence as far as a conspiracy charge was concerned. HESS states that GURNEY'S questioning was some of the subtlest to date, and in sharp contrast to GURNEY'S questioning of some previous witnesses. HESS states that if the questioning was not successful in portraying DEAN as the mastermind of the coverup, it was successful in raising concerns about DEAN'S character. More importantly, HESS concurs with GREENHALGH in saying that GURNEY'S raising of the issue of interpretation of Presidential conversations is important, and will possibly change public reaction to DEAN. LEHRER asks GREENHALGH about the White House memo attacking DEAN. GREENHALGH says that it was a legal disaster, and he can't imagine having a ten-page memo that is based entirely on depositions by other principals in the case, EHRLICHMAN and HALDEMAN, or third-party sources, even newspaper accounts, and that it was so easy for DEAN to counter the memo that he can't figure out the reason why the White House even bothered to introduce it, it was a mistake. HESS says he doesn't know if it was necessarily a mistake, but it was certainly an all-out counterattack "with both barrels". It's some of the toughest language yet in the committee, making startling claims such as that DEAN was the co-author with LIDDY of the original $1 million plan, the White House's position is that "all roads lead to DEAN." [LEHRER adds "and Mitchell", HESS agrees] HESS states that with DEAN, it may be a dubious strategy, because it is well known that the NIXON White House does not delegate power outside of a close circle, and DEAN was a relative latecomer to the White House, and was on staff for a year and a half before ever having a working discussion with the President, DEAN was "clearly not an insider". So, the question becomes, will the strategy boomerang. LEHRER states that DEAN'S credibility is sure to be a subject of debate, replacing "grocery prices and football", and that anyone watching with a spouse or friend may already know this. States that eventually a jury or a congressional committee will make an official judgment, but until then, everyone is involved in the verdict, and popular debate on the matter will continue for "days, weeks, months, even years to come." Calls the implications of DEAN'S testimony "staggering", Signs off. [01.25.06-sponsor credits-NPACT credit-PBS network ID] [01.25.37-TAPE OUT]