Monday, November 12, 2007

Fire-fighting (6)

Continuing excerpt from John Dean's bestseller, Blind Ambition (page 35).

"This isn't any problem. I'll take care of it for you with a phone call, " he answered confidently. He returned the next day to report that a tax inquiry would be fruitless because the magazine was only six months old and its owners had yet to file their first return. Being resourceful, however, he had asked the IRS to look into the owners themselves. "You can tell the President everything is taken care of," he assured me.

'I've got a good one for you to pass along to the President," Jack added proudly. His Treasury Department sources had noticed an authoritative article in the U.S.-Mexico drug traffic published by Scanlan's Monthly. It would be excellent background reading for the President's upcoming meeting with Mexican President Diaz Ordaz. I attached a copy of the article to my memo to the President, and was amused to hear that the article was removed before the memo landed on the President's desk. No one in Halderman's office wanted to be responsible for passing along anything from a magazine the President hated so much.

I summarized the tax situation in my report. "The fact that Scalan's is a new entity does not make the tax inquiry very promising," I concluded. "Accordingly, I have also requested that the inquiry be extended to the principal organizers and promoters of the publication." Thus, within a month of coming to the White House, I had crossed an ethical line. I had no choice, as I saw it. The fact that I had not carried out the assignment myself eased my conscience slightly. I had no idea Jack had done it so easily, nor did I ask, and I never found out what became of the IRS inquiry.

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