Monday, October 29, 2007

Watergate: Firefighting 5

Continued excerpts from John Dean's best-selling 1976 autobiography, Blind Ambition.

Murray laughed. "Hell, Agnew's got a great idea. I hope he has a good plan worked out. It would save us a lot of trouble if we dispensed with the "seventy-two campaign." Murray wasn't taking my visit as seriously as I was. We joked about (U.S. Vice-President) Agnew for a few minutes before I could get him to focus on my problem, and he had the answer. "If the President (Richard Nixon) wants you to turn the IRS (Inland Revenue Service) loose, then you turn the IRS loose. It's that simple, John."

"I really don't think it's necessary, Murray. The President's already got (Attorney-General) Mitchell investigating it. The FBI, I guess."

"I'll tell you this. If Richard Nixon thinks it's necessary you'd better think it's necessary. If you don't, he'll find someone who does."

I was not convinced and said so, but nicely. "Okay, but let me ask you this, Murray. You're a lawyer. Isn't it illegal and therefore crazy to use IRS to attack someone the President doesn't like?"

"Not so," he snorted. He stopped and retrieved the calm he rarely lost. "John, the President is the head of the executive branch of the damn government. If he wants his tax collectors to check into the affairs of anyone, it's his prerogative. I don't see anything illegal about it. It's the way the game is played. Do you think for a second that (former U.S. president) Lyndon Johnson was above using the IRS to harass those guys who who were giving him a hard time on the war? No, sir. Nor was Lyndon Johnson above using IRS against some good Republicans like Richard Nixon. I'll tell you he damn near ruined a few."


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