Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building
[00.07.40-BAKER continues to question DEAN about his meeting with NIXON on Sept. 15, 1972, to determine when NIXON was aware of the coverup]
Senator BAKER. Stop, before you get to the status, and let's lay that aside just for a second because I do -want to hear about that, too, but this really, and I don't
mean to be melodramatic, but this is really a terribly important moment in history. As you know, this meeting was in the afternoon in the oval office in Washington on September 15, 1972, and you were there, the President was there, and Mr. Haldeman.
Mr. DEAN. Mr. Haldeman was there.
Senator BAKER. What was the President's demeanor, what -was his attitude, what was the expression on his face, the quality of his voice?
Mr. DEAN. Well, as I said, when I walked in it -was very war, very cordial. They were smiling, they were happy, they -were relaxed. The President, I think I said earlier this morning was about to go somewhere and I think that actually was delaying his departure to have this conversation with me. The fact that I had not been in to see the President other than on a rather mechanical activity before that dealings with his testamentary papers, indicated so clearly that Haldeman had thought that the President should compliment me for my handling of this matter, and that that was one of the reasons I probably had been called over, and the President had done it at Mr. Haldeman's request.
Senator BAKER. All right.
Now, tell us about,, as you started to say before I interrupted you, the status of the case.
Mr. DEAN. All right.
He was interested in knowing if it -was likely--well, let me, before I go on to that, let me say something else that I recall. When we talked about the fact that the indictments had been handed down, at some, point, and after the compliment I told him at that point that we had managed, you know, that the matter had been contained, it had not come into the White House, I didn't say that, I said it had been contained.
Senator BAKER. Did you say anything beyond that it had been contained?
Mr. DEAN. No, I did not. I used that, I recall very clearly using that expression that it had been contained.
Senator BAKER. That is an important word, it has been contained.
Mr. DEAN. That is right.
Senator BAKER. What -was the President's or Mr. Haldeman's reaction to that word because, that is a rather significant word. I think.
Mr. DEAN. Well. I have got, to say this, I wasn't studying the President's face or Mr. Haldeman's face at this time. I had not ever had a one on one with the President, before and must confess I was a little nervous in there. They were trying to make me as relaxed as possible, and make It as cordial as possible, but I was quite. naturally nervous. There was a man who is the most
important man in the Western World, and here I am having a conversation with him for the first time one on one, so I was not studying his reactions and it wasn't until I started meeting with him more frequently later that the tenor of our conversations changed and----
Senator BAKER. You see what I am driving at I am sure, Mr. Dean. If someone had said that the investigation has been contained it might evoke a question, that might create a startled look on one's face, it might be taken for granted, and that might be important to shed light.
Mr. DEAN. That is right.
Senator BAKER. On the state of the knowledge with the person with whom you were having the conversation.
Mr. DEAN. Everyone seemed to understand what I was talking about. It didn't evoke any questions and I was going on to say that I didn't think it could be contained indefinitely. I said that this is, you know, there are a lot of hurdles that have to be leaped down the road
before it will definitely remain contained and I was trying to tell the President at that time that I was not sure the coverup even then would last indefinitely.
Senator BAKER. This once again is a terribly important
area of inquiry, SO let, me interrupt you again and take you over it one more time. You told the President, I don't think it can continue to be contained?
Mr. DEAN. That is correct.
Senator BAKER. Are those close to Your exact words?
Mr. DEAN. That is very close to my words, because I told him it had been contained to that point and I was not sure that it would be contained indefinitely.
Senator BAKER. What was his reaction to this?
Mr. DEAN. As I say. I don't recall any particular reaction.
Senator BAKER. Was there any statement by him or by Mr. Haldeman at that point on this statement?
Mr. DEAN. NO, not to my recollection.
Senator BAKER. All right, go ahead.
Mr. DEAN. It, was then we turned to the status of the litigation.
The criminal case, as I recall the sequence of the conversation and he wanted to know when hen this, matter was likely to come to trial. I told him very much would depend upon which judge the case was assigned to.