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Nixon has denied authorizing or knowing anything about these two elements in the cover-up—promises of Executive clemency and payoffs to keep the conspirators quiet—both of which could be considered obstruction of justice. The White House offered a totally different version of the discussion of the $1,000,000. Nixon was said to have dismissed such payments as "blackmail" and scoffed at paying it. Also, the White House claimed that this topic came up on March 21 rather than this date.
MARCH 21, 1973 (MORNING). Still hoping that Nixon would order all concealment efforts ended and the truth revealed, Dean said, he put the matter as dramatically as he could. "I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and that if the cancer was not removed, that the President himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately because it was growing more deadly every day."
Dean then laid out the whole story, noting the two Liddy-Mitchell-Magruder meetings he had attended before the wiretapping and adding that he had reported these plans to Haldeman. He said that both Haldeman and Mitchell had received wiretap information. After June 17, he reported, Kalmbach had paid silence money on instructions relayed by Dean from Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Mitchell. Dean said that he had helped prepare Magruder for perjured testimony. "I concluded by saying that it is going to take continued perjury and continued support of these individuals to perpetuate the cover-up and that I did not believe that it was possible to so continue it. Rather, all those involved must stand up and account for themselves and the President himself must get out in front."
But, said Dean, Nixon did not seem to understand, and set up a meeting of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean. The hope was that Mitchell would take the blame for the Watergate wiretapping and that the public would then be satisfied and stop the clamor over the coverup. (At the meeting the next day, Mitchell made no effort to do this, and nothing was decided.) MARCH 21, 1973 (AFTERNOON). At a second meeting with the President, Haldeman and Ehrlichman provided another "tremendous disappointment" for Dean. "It was quite clear that the cover-up as far as the White House was concerned was going to continue." Dean said he thought Haldeman and Ehrlichman as well as himself were indictable for obstruction of justice and that "it was time that everybody start thinking about telling the truth." Dean said Haldeman and Ehrlichman "were very unhappy with my comments."
Thus the President, said Dean, had been extensively briefed on the legal implications but took no action to alter the way in which the situation was being handled. The White House version claims that a tentative decision was reached that everyone go to the grand jury, but Dean wanted immunity.
Feeling increasingly isolated, Dean was invited by the President to take his wife Maureen to Camp David for a rest.