Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activiti...

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.Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building
Year Shot:
1973  (Actual Year)
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Original Film:
[00.50.27-committee room, DEAN seated at witness table] Senator ERVIN. The committee Will resume. Senator 'MONTOYA. Mr. Dean, I only have three or four questions to ask of you. I want to clear this matter up with respect to Mr. Mitchell. On pages 225 and 226 of -your statement, you mention that there, was a move afoot at the White House to try to get Mr. Mitchell to accept the blame for the entire affair. Now, can you tell me who the prime mover of this attempt was at the White House? Mr. DEAN. It, is very difficult, for me to say who the prime mover was. At the time this first was discussed. it Was after I had reported to the President -on the 21st what I thought were the implications of this entire, matter and subsequently, I had a meeting with Haldeman and Ehrlichman and then another meeting with the President. It was early discussion--I recall one particular incident that occurred outside of the President's Office before he -went into a meeting in which I said that, there are two options. One is everything pre- and post- is going to have to be laid out or, second, the White House is going to have to surround itself with wagons and start protecting Itself. It was in subsequent discussions with the President when it was evolving that I was arguing that, both pre and post had to be disclosed, but there was evolving the thought at that point in time, that if we merely deal with the pre- situation, that the post might go away. I did not believe that and it was really when the Presidential party came back from California that early discussions of this concept had evolved into a firm policy. [00.52.51] So I also mentioned that there -was a meeting on the 22d where Mr. Mitchell came down. I assumed at that time that Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Haldeman were going to do something to try to bring Mitchell forward on this issue because of, the earlier discussions that had been held. To the contrary, the discussion really revolved around, first of all, Mr. Ehrlichman asked, has the Hunt problem been taken care of, the demands that he was making, and Mr. Mitchell reported that that did not seem to be any problem. There were general discussions again about the status of the White House vis-a-vis this committee on executive privilege. I went to a meeting that afternoon with the President and it was a repeat of the same thing that had occurred on several previous occasions. So I really cannot say that, that policy evolved until after they returned from California. I recall on the 13th----- Senator MONTOYA. Did you not indicate that there had been some discussion in California about making Mr. 'Mitchell the fall guy? Mr. DEAN. Well. I do not know that, I was not in California. I am aware of another situation where Mr. Colson and Mr. Shapiro came to meet with Mr. Ehrlichman and possibly Mr. Haldeman--I was not present but I did hear them both discussing it on the afternoon of the 13th-- which Mr. Colson had laid out the theory that Mr. Mitchell should be smoked out and this might resolve the whole problem. Senator MONTOYA. Did you hear any discussions by Mr. Haldeman or Mr. Ehrlichman with respect to the same thing? Mr. DEAN. I guess I did. In fact, during that conversation, Mr. Ehrlichman -was on the telephone with the President at one Point in time, I recall. and it was--it had been planned that Mr. Mitchell would come down that Saturday, Saturday, the 14th. Senator MONTOYA. Who arranged for Mr. Mitchell to come down? Mr. DEAN. I believe that Mr. Haldeman called him. I am not sure. Senator MONTOYA. Now, in view of your strong feelings for Mr. Mitchell, why did you not apprise him of this move by the White House? Mr. DEAN. I had already gone to the prosecutors by this time and was in discussions with the prosecutors and I was trying to avoid any situation that would further involve me, but yet, I was not revealing to Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Ehrlichman that, in fact, I was having discussions with the Government about the entire situation. It occurred to Me at one time when I learned that Mr. O'Brien was going to California to meet with Mr. Ehrlichman at a suggestion of Mr. Mitchell, that he do so, that this could well be a setup situation. But I did not apprise him of it because I, myself, was dealing with the Government and I had stopped the coverup, as far as I was concerned. I was no longer involved in it. [00.56.04]