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Watergate Hearings: Senate Select Committee on Presidenti...

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Watergate Hearings: Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities June 28, 1973 - Testimony of John Dean.

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Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). I am sorry, go ahead, sir. John Dean. This has recalled to me something that, I earlier indicated that there had been a longstanding interest in Mr. O'Brien. Some of the documents that I have submitted in documents 6, 7, or 8, I don t recall which one on the top, deals directly with Mr. O'Brien. I recall that the line that is drawn beside that note is Mr. Haldeman was marking. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). This is on page 2 of the second half of the exhibit? John Dean. That is correct. Some time before this he had told me in a discussion, a rather casual discussion, when we were talking about who was likely to be Mr. McGovern s, Senator McGovern's campaign manager. And there was speculation that it was going to be Mr. O'Brien. I recall Mr. Haldeman telling me that he certainly hoped it would be because we have got some really good information on him. I believe he was referring to tax information at that time. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Referring to what, sir? John Dean. Tax information. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). And this was Mr. Haldeman who said this? John Dean. That is correct. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Do you remember when he said that? John Dean. It was some time, after Mr. McGovern had been nominated and before he had made his final selection for his campaign manager. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Which would have been then probably in the early fall of 1972. As I recall it was September before Mr. O'Brien was designated as campaign chairman. That is not important. It was in that time. John Dean. That is correct.

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Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Now, let us see. The second heading, before I get to the second heading on page 1 of the second part of the exhibit, did I understand you to say that the penciled or penned capital "P" apparently with the checkmark through it is a White House designation that the document was seen or known of by the President? John Dean. That is correct. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Do you know this of your own knowledge? John Dean. Yes, I do.

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Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). The second half of that memorandum is entitled "Complaint for Libel, Stans versus O'Brien." What did that mean? John Dean. Well, that was an action being filed, a counteroffensive, again as part of the counteractions that were being requested as a result of its occurrence that before an amended complaint had been filed with the district court that the amended complaint, which charged Mr. Stans had funded the Watergate incident with the $114,000 checks for Mr. Barker was alleged in the complaint of the amended complaint. The amended complaint was distributed to the press before it was filed, so it had no privilege. I do not know if it was ultimately filed or not, but based on that, the Re-Election committee lawyers thought they had a very good libel action for using the processes in that manner. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Was that suit, in fact, filed? John Dean. Yes, it was. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Do you know who filed it? John Dean. The Re-Election committee lawyers filed it on Mr. Stans behalf. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Do you know what the present status of that litigation is? John Dean. That is still in litigation. All of these cases have been consolidated in, I believe, in Judge Richey's court. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). Here in the District? John Dean. Yes, here in the District.

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Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). I think we take really a great deal more time me than an we ought to if we try to go through each item but let me try to refocus now on this exhibit for the purposes of this moment. What in this exhibit sheds any further light or implies any further information about the scope and extent, if any, of the President's knowledge of the coverup post June 17, 1972. I understand, before you answer, that so far you have suggested that the President, seeing and approving this memorandum which deals with a series of civil suits and certain other actions to be taken implies that there was at least to be a counteraction and a backfire, if you please. But in what respect does this give us further insight into the President's knowledge of a coverup of the Watergate break in? John Dean. Well, I am not sure I understand the Senator's definition of coverup. As I think I have laid out in my testimony, the coverup was something that had a broad range. Anything that might cause any problem at all in relationship to the Watergate came within the coverup. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). I understand. That s not really a very good way to put it. Let me narrow it even further. Senator Howard Baker (R Tennessee). What in this document gives us any further insight or information about the President's knowledge, if any, post June 17, 1972, about the apparent efforts to conceal the connection with and responsibility for the unlawful entry into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex on the morning June 17, 1972? John Dean. Well I can only surmise what I was told when asked for the document. And as I said, I had a request from two people for the document in the President's behalf that the best defense is an offense and this was an offensive effort.