Lubbock Avalanche-Journal from Lubbock, Texas on April 8, 1975 · Page 4
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Lubbock Avalanche-Journal from Lubbock, Texas · Page 4

Lubbock, Texas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 8, 1975
Page 4
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4.A—LUBBOCK AVALANCHEJOURNAL— Tuesday Morning, April 8, 1975 Historic 4 Battle Of Tapes' Helps Overturn Nixon (EDITOR'S NOTE — PtfMtefctag rtpw iba pKe'uiant in Inruv^nt and ,tfUL» urn IIUHIIMBIII aum 1.••••MMI•••• 1 -.. t< ;| M ||-^•••••••^^^^••iin. i n^^^»n iiiii.ii * 1 ~1>. .«» »i.. u.:_ •••••••••••••••••im^^tBB £L J"*"*"" * 'tM.' NOTE - F*buteU« tat*. »4 prtMpMU m fc-M t* utt, Un >MM MW kwtMp rt*« Oh .WNMM •fit** h AiMffcw W««rr. to toffO* «• PrnM*M. WUk tW Xtttt I* pl*ct, the ItMlUir »4 tk« MW, U k HW pHtMc — hr tW HrM Mm. r«»lly - u ttt It WWW.' Ikt te- . Klul Mkwi km ta M< J«| *M*llyUU; MtetWl, WtttM •In i fecwMM, * e«n«f WH acctml M • BySAULPETT AP Special Correspottdent Copyright (c) 1975 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. (Continued from Monday) Among people who worked for him, estimates vary as to when Richard Nixon became a part-time President whose mind and energy were engulfed by the siege of Watergate. Some say he goverened very little, especially in domestic matters, in his last year and a half. Others put the span at the last few months; still others, the last few weeks. "This is so controlling his mind and time it's difficult for him to run the country," said Gen. Alexander Haig, his chief of staff, in early July. Haig told this to the Senate Minority Leader, Hugh Scott, who had begun to keep a diary. Coming out of the While House one day, Gerald Ford told a friend, "He seems to have shrunk." Other visitors to the Oval Office found the President increasingly turned inward, distracted, and having to make a real effort to concentrate on the subjects at hand. This was less true in foreign affairs, where he had always moved with a surer hand. "More and more, he indulged in long meandering monlogues about the great accomplishments of his administration," said one senior official with perhaps a starker view than the others. "He'd talk about China and Russia and SALT and how we got out of Vietnam and ended the draft. He had really begun not to see things as they were." In June and early July, he travelled abroad for one last whirl of summitry. He drew big crowds in the Mideast and the polite attention of the Russians in Moscow. But now, even in foreign affairs which Richard Nixon had made the last slender reed of the indispensable man, he must have begun to see that he was a crippled President. If he didn't, his Secretary of State did. "We could not act with decisiveness," said Henry Kissinger. "Every negotiation was getting more and more difficult because it involved the question of whether w» could, in fact, carry out what we were negotiating. "Secondly, we were not in a position to press matters that might involve serious domestic disputes ... This affected to some extent the summit in Moscow. But it affected many other things in more intangible ways." On Wednesday, July 24, the President phoned J. Fred Buzhardt Jr., one of his lawyers, and according to Life Magazine, said in an off-hand way, "There may be some problem with the June 23 tape, Fred." The President had known this for at least 77 days but this apparently was the first time he told any of the men trying to defend him in the courts, in Congress or in the eyes of the American people. One he surely hadn't told was his Vice President. The next day in Muncie, Ind., Gerald Ford went out to the end of the limb: "I can say from the bottom of my heart the President is innocent and be is right." Friday, July 26, Nixon fell to a new low in the Gallup poll; only 24 per cent of his countrymen approved of his performance in office. Most of the country was now watching the impeachment hearings of the House Judiciary Committee on television but in San Clemente, we were told, the President was not. He was reading a biography of Napoleon. On Saturday, July 27, for the first time in 106 days of good and bad presidents, the House Judiciary Committee voted an article of impeachment against the Chief of State. By a vote of 27 to 11, the committee charged the 37th President with obstruction of justice. The separate counts thundered like cannon: Making or causing to be made false or misleading statements to investigative officers of the United States ... Withholding relevant and material evidence ... Approving, condoning and counseling witnesses to give false or misleading statements in judicial proceedings and before Congress... Interfering or trying to interfere with investigations by the Justice Department, the FBI, the special prosecutors and Congress ... Approving and acquiescing in the surreptitious payment of large sums of money to silence or influence witnesses... Trying to misuse the CIA ... Passing information from the Justice Department to people it was investigating to help them avoid criminal liability ... Making false or misleading statements to deceive the people of the United States into believing a thorough investigation had been made ... Trying to lead prospective and convicted defendants to expect favored treatment for their silence or false testimony ... Rewarding others for their silence or false testimony. "In all of this," the committee concluded, "Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. "Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office." The cover-up was now two years and one month old. On Sunday, July 28, the President flew "back to Washington. On Monday, July 29, the House Judiciary Committee voted, 28 to 10, a second article of impeachment for abuse of presidential power. That day, Stephen Bull, an aide, received an urgent call. "Get here right away," said the President, who sounded agitated. The President asked Bull for a number of the Watergate tapes to be delivered to his office in the Executive Offices Building, across from the White House. There, among his gavels and his elephants, his plaques and his other mementoes of a lifetime of political combat, Richard Nixon began to review tapes again. Twenty of them were due in Judge John Sirica's court the next day. The President listened on a machine whose erasure mechanism had been made inoperative. On Tuesday, July 30, the Judiciarv Committee voted a CONFRONTS AMERICA-Richard Nixon faced the American public and said, in television addresses and to newsmen, that he knew nothing of the Watergate problems and also that his release of tape transcripts "would reveal all." The American public increasingly came to distrust his words though and public pressure was one of the major factors that forced Nixon out of office. (AP Wirephoto) third article of impeachment based on the President's refusal to turn over the tapes subpoenaed by the committee. The hearings ended and the full House prepared to vote. It was expected to vote overwhelmingly for impeachment. None of its members, accusers or defenders, yet knew about the June 23 tapes. On Wednesday or Thursday — memories differ — the President sat alone in the small sitting room on the second floor of the White House, a room bearing the name and some of the furniture of Abraham Lincoin — and listened once more to the June 23 tapes. Alone, he listened and he read the transcripts. And he later gave this impression of his reaction to his chief of staff, Gen. Haig: "He couldn't believe it. He just couldn't accept it. It hadn't registered." Other members of the staff were given the same impression. But how, one wonders, could he have been shocked in July by what he knew to be "problems" in May? Was he yet "telling it ail," even to his own people? By Thursday, Aug. 1, Richard Nixon had begun to consider resignation. Precisely when the dread prospect first surfaced in his thoughts that last summer is not known but clearly it was there Thursday, a rock uncovering in a lowering tide. He spent most of the day alone in his EOB office while his grip on the wheel of government grew weaker. A meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. between the President and his Council of Economic Advisors was pushed back to 4 p.m., then to the next morning, then canceled. He never did meet again with the Council on the acute problems of inflation. Sirica now had the first In. stallment of tapes the Supreme Court had ordered the White House to release. The June 23 tapes were not among them. All that the special prosecutor knew was American Ordeal: Part 2 HIGH ACHIEVEMENT - Richard Nixon's China tour, hailed as the diplomatic coup of Nixon's administration, will possibly be con- sidered the high point of his administration. He is shown here with Chou En-Lai. (AP Wirephoto) that White House logs showed the President had talked three times that day with Haldeman. He had no way of knowing the content. How long could Nixon hold them back? On Thursday, Haig went to Vice President Ford and told him of the "new" evidence that couid prove "catastrophic." He asked if Ford was prepared to "assume the Presidency within a short time." Ford made no response. Haig outlined the main possibilities as he saw them: Nixon could try to ride out impeachment and fight removal in the Senate or resign "sooner or later." Among the options being considered at the White House, he said, was the question of whether the President could pardon himself; whether he might pardon some of the Watergate defendants, pardon himself and then resign; or finally, whether to resign and receive a pardon from the next President. Ford said he needed time to think. Later, he testified, he told Haig he would make no recommendations on the options. Stunned, Ford delayed telling his wife. Instead, he went through the charade of looking at furniture with her for the new official residence of the Vice President. That evening, he finally said, "Betty, the probability of us living in that house is very remote." And he told her why. That evening the President cruised the Potomac for two hours with his friend Bebe Re- bozo on .the Sequoia. The two men dined alone. That evening Haig told Raymond K. Price, Jr., to begin work on a resignation speech for the President. Strictly on a contingency basis, he said. The next morning, Friday, Aug. 2, Haig told Price to hold off work on the resignation speech and start preparation of a statement to accompany release of the June 23 tapes. The President spent most of the day in his EOB office, alone with his thoughts and his campaign souvenirs. Jn the evening he called his family and Rebozo to the Lincoln Sitting Room and told them of the devastating tapes. He talked for two hours in the manner of an anguished man near the end of his strength. "He knew it would be resignation or removal," said a member of the family. "For the two hours he talked, he was trying to understand and come to terms with what had happened to him. And he understood better than anybody else what it was ail about." He sent for copies of the new transcripts and his two daughters and their husbands read them in the living room. The two young ladies apparently ended the reading not knowing what to think. Their husbands, one a lawyer, the other a law student, knew better. "There goes the ball game," thought David Eisenhower. Pat Nixon and Bebe Rebozo did not read the fatal transcripts at all. On Saturday, Aug. 3, the family and Rebozo flew by helicopter to Camp David, which incidentally, was named for young Eisenhower by his grandfather in another time. The President appeared to have rallied from the gloom of a man resigned to resigning. Over dinner in Aspen Lodge, he announced that he would fight on. Could they take it? he asked his family. He was assured they could; they would support him in whatever he decided. But as the evening wore on, he weakened in his resolve and showed, said one member of the family, that he was "still so unsure of what he should do." He vacillated. In the 26th month of the cover-up, Richard Nixon walked back and forth before the wall of the inevitable, searching for a crack. SUNDAY, AUG. 4 Richard Nixon once said that he liked to go to Camp David because this presidential retreat, high in the Catoctin mountains of Maryland, surrounded by a double steel fence and unfriendly Marines with sidearms, helped him to think objectively and get a perspective on the myriad complexities of his office. "I find that up here on top of a mountain it is easier for me to get on top of the job." On this gray and misty Sunday he was trying desparately to stay in the job. He was now determined "to fight on as long as there was a chance," he told assistants. Around the fragile word, chance, he wrapped a rationale: The Constitution made it especially difficult to remove a President. If he were to resign, that might leave a precedent that would make the toppling of a President through public pressure instead of impeachment, easier in the future. So he reasoned, on this plane of higher purpose. On another level, another consequence of his resignation could be the unthinkable: jail. But the immediate problem was the June 23 tapes. He now knew that they had to be released to the public. But how? For this tactical problem, he summoned Haig and St. Clair, his press secretary Ronald L. Ziegler, and speechwriters Price and, Patrick J. Buchanan to Camp David. It was agreed that a Presidential statement would better accompany release of the tapes than a speech. What to say? For seven hours the state* ment was discussed, analyzed, written and rewritten. The President, in Aspen Lodfe, saw only Haig and Ziegler, and he saw them one at .a time. The others worked in other cabinets — Birch, Laurel and Hawthorne. Their ideas and projected paragraphs were carried to and from Aspen by Ziegler or Haig. Most of the assistants, Price recalled, now favored resignation as an "inevitable reality." They thought the public uproar that would follow release of the tapes would force him out of office. But the President, they were told, wanted to be certain of the reaction before making a decision. He would be the last to face the "inevitable reality." Late in the day, Steve Bull recalled, he received a call in Washington from Gen. Haig. "Steve, when did the President first hear the June 23 tapes and who knows that he did?" "May 5, 6, or 7, The grand jury and the prosecutors know it. I testified to that." "That could be fatal." (In Le Mons, Belgium, where he is now Supreme Commander of all NATO forces in Europe, Gen. Haig said of this conversation: "I never heard of such a thing. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, but it doesn't make sense. I can see being interested in knowing when he heard the tapes but I can't imagine being interested in who knew that he did." (In Washington, Ray Price said: "We were trying to pin down when he had heard the tapes. On the question of who knew that he did, there was some of that but not in a sinister context." Price denlined to go into the context.) Steve Bull recalled that sometime later, about 6 p.m., the President phoned from Camp David. "Steve, are you sure I heard the June 23 tapes back in May?" Bull said he remembered setting up those tapes on the machine in the President's office. "Are you sure I heard them? Is it possible you just set them up and I didn't listen to them?" Bull told the President that when he returned to the office the counter on the machine showed the tapes had been played. There were no cracks, frees or doorways left. MONDAY, AUG. 5 Before the tapes could be made public, others had to be told. In the morning, Haig assembled the White House staff and gave them the bad news. He said there would be "very rough days ahead" but "the President won't quit." He asked them to keep working out of loyalty to the office if not the man. Most people left that meeting in numbed, bitter dismay. For two years now, they had been treated to a series of jolts by the man they had followed to Washington in high hope five and a half years before. This one snappsd it. ".He could have clone so much that would have made a difference for 100 years but he blew it," said one presidential assistant. "He could be brilliant and compassionate and decent in his way. But then there's the other side — the introvert, the cynic, the tight personality who kept telling himself he was the coolest man in the room. And he blew it." The curtain was fast descending but still John McCahill and the other SIRICA—Judge John Sirica consistently opposed Nixon's stands and his positions forced Nixon to take his arguments to the Supreme Court. (AP Wirephoto) presidential lawyers were told to keep working on a Nixon defense. Their boss, James St. Clair, took the grim tidings of the new tapes to Republican leaders in the Senate. "Before this," St. Clair concluded, "we had the case won." The senators were incredulous. "Where?" asked the long-suffering Scott, who had now heard everything. St. Clair left and a quiet sense of finality filled the room. John Tower of Texas was moved to recall a line from Greek tragedy, "and now a wave of melancholy tranquility settled over Thebes." Scott of Pennsylvania thought, "now it's just a question of how do you end it?" • The June 23 tapes and Richard Nixon's explanation went public at 4 p.m. in the 766th day of the cover-up. He admitted listening to the tapes back in May, recognizing "potential problems" but telling no one. With uncharacteristic understatement, he said the tapes were "at variance" with his previous statements. And then, incredibly, he said he had "no way" of knowing yet whether additional tapes would show "other major inconsistencies." His inability to be certain recalled once again Thomas Jefferson's discourse on the man who begins with one lie and soon makes it a habit. "He tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him." Richard Nixon concluded: "I am firmly convinced that the record in its' entirety, does not justify the extreme step of impeachment and removal of a President. I trust that as the constitutional process goes forward, this perspective will prevail." It didn't. Across the capital and across the nation, even in the last pockets of Nixon loyalty, people were now saying this President had to go. That night he cruised the Potomac with his family on the old but elegant Sequoia. Enroute, he received a call from Haig on the reaction in Congress. Haig said that all 10 Republican members of the Judiciary Committee who had supported him would now vote to impeach. The President said to forget the House; it was lost. He said they now had to concentrate on the Senate and asked about several individual members. Haig said they'd probably hold fast. The President said he still thought he had a chance in the Senate. Haig said he did,too.A chance. Sailing down the river in the dying August sun, Richard Nixon appeared sad and reflective. He talked to his family about points of interest he had come to know along the way. The subject most important to all of them was scarcely mentioned. There seemed to be a common effort to avoid FOES- Chief Justte Warren Burger, top, and Jbhn Dean, bottom, were key figures in the legal storm thaiengulfed Richard Nixon in hislast days in office. Dean's nstimony and Burger's rulini, along with the rest of the supreme Court,, "aided Nixon p his ultimate decision to resbn. (AP Wirephoto) } it on their last night 01 the presidential yacht. V TUESDAY, AUG. 6 The rising wind was now a typhoon but still he hung on. Only two voices among the 435 in the House of Representatives could be heard this day speaking against impeachment. In the Senate the Republican Policy Committee met and quickly concluded the President should resign. ! In the White .House, Ray Price was told to get cracking on the resignationspeech. But John McCahill and the other presidential lawyers were told to keep working on the defense. Richard Nixon was clinging to the options. At 11 a.m., he walked into the Cabinet Room. Usually, in times of crisis or triumph, he was greeted by a standing ovation. This time, which proved to be the last time, the Cabinet rose in silence. "I've called this meeting," the President said in a clear, firm voice, "to discuss the issues foremost in the minds of the American people, the issues which affect every individual — inflation and the economy" Before a sense of unreality completely enveloped the room, he quietly turned to "the other matter." For 40 minutes, he reviewed his personal crisis in a business-like way, with that self-control that always amazed both friend and enemy. (To be continued Wednesday.) FORMER FRIENDS- Richard Nixon Warren Burger, former political friends and associates, are shown together, along with Mrs. Burger, several years before Chief « tapes aent Nixon into a towering rag* against his associate. Nixon appointed Burger tothe Supreme Court. (AP Wtephoto) ^^

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