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The "Smoking Gun" Transcript

July 21, 1990

Nixon: Of course, this Hunt (E. Howard Hunt, a White House consultant), that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves. Well what the hell, did Mitchell know about this?

Haldeman: I think so. I don't think he knew the details, but I think he knew.

Nixon: He didn't know how it was going to be handled though--with Dahlberg and the Texans and so forth? Well who was the a------ that did? Is it Liddy (G. Gordon Liddy, a reelection committee lawyer)? Is that the fellow? He must be a little nuts!

Haldeman: He is.

Nixon: I mean he just isn't well screwed on is he? Is that the problem?

Haldeman: No, but he was under pressure, apparently, to get more information, and as he got more pressure, he pushed the people harder to move harder--

Nixon: Pressure from Mitchell?

Haldeman: Apparently.

Nixon: Oh, Mitchell, Mitchell was at the point (unintelligible).

Haldeman: Yeah.

Nixon: All right, fine, I understand it all. We won't second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn't (special presidential counsel Charles W.) Colson.

Haldeman: The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do. To have him take an interrogation, which he did, and that--the FBI guys working the case concluded that there were one or two possibilities--one, that this was a White House--they don't think that there is anything at the Election Committee--they think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it--non-political, or it was a--Cuban and the CIA. And after their interrogation of Colson yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it is a CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would--

Nixon: Well, not sure of their analysis, I'm not going to get that involved. I'm (unintelligible).

Haldeman: No, sir, we don't want you to.

Nixon: You call them in.

Haldeman: Good deal.

Nixon: Play it tough. That's the way they play it and that's the way we are going to play it.

Haldeman: OK.

Nixon: When I saw that news summary, I questioned whether it's a bunch of crap, but I thought, er, well it's good to have them off us awhile, because when they start bugging us, which they have, our little boys will not know how to handle it. I hope they will though.

Haldeman: You never know.

Nixon: Good.

(Other matters are discussed. Then the conversation returns to the break-in coverup strategy.)

Nixon: When you get in--when you get in (unintelligible) people, say, "Look the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs things, and the President just feels that ah, without going into the details--don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is a comedy of errors, without getting into it, the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah, because these people are plugging for (unintelligible) and that they should call the FBI in and (unintelligible) don't go any further into this case period!

Nixon: (Inaudible) our cause--

Haldeman: Get more done for our cause by the opposition than by us.

Nixon: Well, can you get it done?

Haldeman: I think so.

Transcript Source: Congressional Quarterly--"Watergate: Chronology of a Crisis."

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