The Unraveling

Our guest interlocutors are John Dean and Richard Nixon, speaking in the Oval Office on March 21, 1973. Their conversation has been condensed for obvious pointed contemporary comparison.

DEAN:
I think, I think that, uh, there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’re, we’ve got. We have a cancer — within, close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding, it grows geometrically now because it compounds itself. Uh, that’ll be clear as I explain you know, some of the details, uh, of why it is, and it basically is because (1) we’re being blackmailed; (2) uh, people are going to start perjuring themselves very quickly that have not had to perjure themselves to protect other people and the like. And that is just — and there is no assurance—

PRESIDENT:
That it won’t bust.

DEAN:
That, that it won’t bust.

PRESIDENT:
True.

DEAN:
We’ve — I don’t know if Mitchell has perjured himself in the Grand Jury or not. I’ve never—

PRESIDENT:
Who?

DEAN:
Mitchell. I don’t know how much knowledge he actually had. I know that Magruder has perjured himself in the Grand Jury. I know that Porter has perjured himself, uh, in the Grand Jury.

PRESIDENT:
Porter. (Unintelligible).

DEAN:
All right, so — uh, those people are in trouble as a result of the Grand Jury and the trial.

PRESIDENT:
Yeah.

DEAN:
All right, then they started making demands: “We’ve got to have attorneys’ fees. Uh, we don’t have any money ourselves, and if you are asking us to take this through the election.” All right, so arrangements were made through Mitchell, uh, initiating it, in discussions that — I was present — that these guys had to be taken care of. Their attorneys’ fees had to be done.

PRESIDENT:
They put that under the cover of a Cuban Committee or (unintelligible).

DEAN:
That’s the most troublesome post-thing, uh, because (1) Bob is involved in that; John is involved in that; I’m involved in that; Mitchell is involved in that. And that’s an obstruction of justice.

PRESIDENT:
In other words the fact that uh, that you’re, you’re, you’re taking care of the witnesses.

DEAN:
That’s right.

PRESIDENT:
Yeah.

DEAN:
What sort of brings matters to the — this is (1) this is going to be continual blackmail operation by Hunt and Liddy and the Cubans. No doubt about it.

PRESIDENT:
Yeah.

DEAN:
Now, where, where are the soft spots on this? Well, first of all, there’s the, there’s the problem of the continued blackmail…

PRESIDENT:
Right.

DEAN:
…which will not only go on now, it’ll go on when these people are in prison, and it will compound the obstruction of justice situation. It’ll cost money. It’s dangerous. Nobody, nothing — people around here are not pros at this sort of thing. This is the sort of thing Mafia people can do: washing money, getting clean money, and things like that.

PRESIDENT:
How much money do you need?

DEAN:
I would say these people are going to cost, uh, a million dollars over the next, uh — two years.

PRESIDENT:
We could get that.

DEAN:
What really bothers me is that this, this growing situation — as I say it is growing because of the, the continued need to provide support for the…

PRESIDENT:
Right.

DEAN:
…Watergate people who are going to…

PRESIDENT:
Yeah.

DEAN:
…hold us up for everything they’ve got…

PRESIDENT:
That’s right.

DEAN:
…and the need for some people to perjure themselves as they go down the road here. Uh, if this thing ever blows, and we’re in a cover-up situation, I think it’d be extremely damaging to you, uh, and uh, the, uh—

PRESIDENT:
The whole concept of Administration justice.

DEAN:
That’s right.

Excerpted Watergate-Related Conversations [Nixon Library]

11 comments:

10:08 am • Saturday • March 4, 2017

Donald Trump: I have the worst fucking attorneys.
/Cue Arrested Development theme/

10:08 pm • Saturday • March 4, 2017

1973, when I could dunk a basketball and get an erection — at the same time.

11:01 pm • Saturday • March 4, 2017

Meanwhile, Roger Stone is now tweeting that Obama should be jailed, apparently following a dinner with Trump and Bannon. Looking forward to watching this one play out.

1:05 am • Monday • March 6, 2017

@nojo: He’s still at it.

2:48 am • Monday • March 6, 2017

@JNOV: Roger Stone is this odd little weasel who’s been on the fringes of wingnut politics since Nixon. He keeps turning up like a malevolent Forrest Gump, and he’s enjoying a moment of proximity to actual power.

He also can’t stop bragging about it.

This is where comparisons to Watergate fall short. Dean’s “cancer” was the growing list of minions whose silence needed to be bought. (And for someone who lived through the era, the full transcript dredges up a lot of familiar names.) I still think that’s effectively how this plays out — somebody flips to save their skin — but none of this has exactly been hidden from view. Some braggart’s gonna say too much, and we’re off and running.

12:25 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

@nojo: You should get on the horn to your Republican Senator. He’s worried about cuts to Medicaid and could be a key vote against the Republican health care bill.

12:27 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

@mellbell: Assuming it passes the House, that is.

1:12 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

@mellbell: Left messages about DeVos and Sessions, and Cory did an easy dunk about the early AHCA draft, but he’s been quiet so far (at least on his Twitter feed) about the released version.

If it passes the House, I’ll be calling.

Cory, alas, is no maverick. He’s part of the GOP Establishment. And he’s not up for re-election until 2020. All we can do is hold the fire to his feet.

1:39 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

Cory is also hiding behind telephone “town halls” after conspicuously avoiding live appearances during recess. And he was one of the first to suggest that the phone calls jamming his lines weren’t from constituents, or even in-state. During an Indivisible town hall created to publicize Cory’s absence, everybody held up their Colorado driver’s license.

He’s pretty well insulated (for now), and I haven’t yet figured out his pain points. I suspect that if Colorado hospitals tell him the AHCA is shit, he’ll listen. (He loves to brag about supporting local industries.) That, plus folks calling from outside the Denver/Boulder Liberal Axis — the Trump voters who want to keep their Obamacare.

9:22 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

Christ. We have people bitching about why more women didn’t take today off, and we have a person saying she knows “exactly what to do, and [she is] doing it.” (She’s the admin of a very large FB group.)

I’m going to write a little something something about being able to protest whenever and wherever you want is a sign of privilege.

Don’t get me started about the women who went to the BLM march and were upset that the organizers requested black hats or none. They are so attached to those TERF pink hats.

nojo, the people are dumb.

10:15 pm • Wednesday • March 8, 2017

@JNOV: Yes, dumb across the spectrum. Which is why it’s easy for idiots on one side to pick off idiots on the other.

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