Continuation of excerpts from John Dean's fascinating Blind Ambition (W.H.Allen & Co. Ltd, 1977), an eye-opening account of his personal involvement in the infamous Watergate conspiracy...
.... Was it possible that he (President Nixon) had a secret plan to cancel the election and the Bill of Rights? I was embarrassed by the thought. Now I cannot look back at the episode without laughing, but then I was not at all loose about it. It was the President of the United States talking. Maybe he was right.
On the due date I wrote my first memorandum to the President, explaining the hazards of a lawsuit and the wisdom of waiting to see what an FBI investigation produced. I thought the affair had been put to rest. Not so. Back came another action memorandum from the staff secretary. The President agreed with my conclusions, but he wasn't yet content. "It was requested," said the memorandum, "that as part of this inquiry you should have the Inland Revenue Service conduct a field investigation on the tax front."
This was the "old Nixon" at work, heavy-handed, after somebody. I began to fret. How could anything be at once so troubling and so absurd? The President was asking me to do something I thought was dangerous, unnecessary and wrong. I did nothing for several days, but the deadline was hard upon me. I couldn't possibly respond, "Dean opposes this request because it is wrong and possibly illegal." I had to find some practical reason for doing the right thing or I would be gone. I called Bud Krogh several times, but he was out. Then I thought of my recent acquaintance, Murray Chotiner and arranged to meet him.
"I need some counsel, Murray."
"You're the lawyer.You're the one who's supposed to give counsel around here," he said with a chuckle.
"I'm still trying to find the water fountains in this place," I said. "Murray, seriously, I need some advice. The President wants me to turn the IRS loose on a shit-ass magazine called Scanlan Monthly because it printed a bogus memo from the Vice-President's office about canceling the 'seventy-two election and repealing the Bill of Rights."
To be continued...