Watergate Chapter 3
The History Channel (2016)
Chapter 3 mainly concerns the discovery of the Oval Office tapes. For me the most interesting section concerns the conflict between Nixon and his legal counsel John Dean over whether to cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to the tapes, in March 1973 Nixon ordered Dean to issue a statement expressing the White House’s general willingness to cooperate in any investigation. Dean never did so. Instead (according to subsequent tapes), Dean advises him not to cooperate by claiming executive immunity.
By the spring of 1973, six defendants had been sentenced in the Watergate burglaries and Watergate hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee are about to begin. Around the same time former CIA operative and Watergate burglar James McCord begins testifying to the grand jury about the White House staff who orchestrated the break-in.
By mid-1973, new scandals linking Watergate to the White House are breaking daily. John Dean hires a criminal lawyer and begins negotiations with the Senate Committee to trade testimony about White House involvement in the break-in and coverup for immunity from prosecution.
Nixon accepts the resignation of John Ehrlichman and Robert Haldeman, as their staff are heavily implicated in the cover-up. He simultaneously fires Dean, Attorney General Gordon Kleindienst and FBI Director L Patrick Gray.
*Driven mainly by paranoia, Nixon recorded all his Oval Office conversations for most of his presidency.
**Gray was the first FBI director after Hoover’s mysterious death a month before Watergate. See http://www.maebrussell.com/Mae%20Brussell%20Articles/Watergate%20Deaths.html
This film can be viewed free on Kanopy.