(4 of 13)
Lawyerlike, Dean resisted most attempts by the committee to draw him into discussing personalities or making value judgments. He conceded that the Watergate break-in was "the first act in a great American tragedy" and said he found it "very difficult" to testify about what others, including "men I greatly admire and respect," had done. He found it easier to admit that he had obstructed justice and helped another man commit perjury in the affair. Yet Dean's story did, indeed, indict others.
HOW IT BEGAN. Dean reported having attended two meetings in then Attorney General Mitchell's office on Jan. 27 and Feb. 4, 1972, at which G. Gordon Liddy, counsel for the Nixon re-election committee, presented his bizarre intelligence-gathering plans. Dean's testimony generally agreed with that of Jeb Stuart Magruder, the Nixon committee's deputy director, who had also been present at the two meetings. Dean added some refinements: Liddy's first proposals included the use of "mugging squads" to rough up demonstrators, and the employment of prostitutes—"high class and the best in the business"—to entice secrets out of Democrats at Miami Beach.
Mitchell, said Dean, "was amazed.
I gave him a look of bewilderment and he winked. He took a few long puffs on his pipe and told Liddy that the plan he had developed was not quite what he had in mind and the cost [$1,000,000] was out of the question." Dean arrived late for the second meeting, discovered Liddy was still discussing illegal wiretapping plans, objected that "these discussions could not go on in the office of the Attorney General," and cut the meeting short; "terminated" it, to use Dean's invariable terminology.
Dean thought the plans were dead.
Magruder testified that a scaled-down espionage plan had later been reluctantly approved by Mitchell at a third meeting in Key Biscayne on March 30. Dean, who had not attended that meeting, said he still did not know if the plan had actually been approved. Also present was Frederick LaRue, an aide to Mitchell after the latter shifted to head the Nixon campaign; he has said his boss did not approve.
LaRue pleaded guilty last week to one count of obstruction of justice—the first high-level Nixonite to do so—and he will apparently become a Government witness against others. Testified Dean:
"I do not know to this day who kept pushing for these plans—whether Liddy was pushing or whether Magruder was pushing or whether someone was pushing Magruder."
HOW THE COVER-UP SPREAD. The cover-up began, said Dean, the moment it was learned that James McCord, security chief for the Nixon