(5 of 10)
The next break came on April 11, when Jeb Magruder's chief assistant, Robert Reisner, appeared before the grand jury. With knowledge of his boss's activities, he apparently backed most of McCord's testimony, including the claim that Magruder had attended a February meeting with Mitchell about the bugging plans. But a greater revelation came three days later, on April 14, when Magruder went to Justice Department officials and told of the February meeting with Mitchell and Dean. This was the first confirmation by any participant in the meeting that the Watergate bugging had been discussed at this high level. Magruder said that Liddy displayed poster-sized operational charts of the wiretapping operation. But at that time, Magruder added, John Mitchell did not give clear approval to go ahead with the operation.
Magruder further revealed that there was another meeting a few weeks later with Mitchell in Key Biscayne, Fla., at which the wiretapping was discussed again. The meeting was attended, he said, by Liddy and Fred LaRue —and it was then, according to Magruder, that Mitchell did give his approval to proceed with the plans. LaRue, however, has denied that Mitchell did so. Magruder also told investigators that both Mitchell and Dean had approved the payments to the wiretappers to keep them quiet.
After these charges and revelations by Magruder, the three Justice Department attorneys prosecuting the case—Earl J. Silbert, Seymour Glanzer and Donald E. Campbell—set up a meeting on Sunday, April 15, with their Justice Department superiors, Kleindienst and Petersen. The latter two, in turn, immediately asked to see Nixon. Explained one Justice official: "These findings had to be brought to the attention of Nixon to give him the opportunity to salvage the presidency from the shambles of the Watergate evidence."
The meeting with Kleindienst and Petersen in the Executive Office Building apparently moved Nixon to make his announcement of "major developments" two days later. The meeting also resulted in Kleindienst's decision to remove himself from further supervision of the case. He tried to keep this secret, but the word got out, and Kleindienst conceded that he had withdrawn because "persons with whom I have had personal and professional relationships" were being implicated. Newsmen took that to refer to 1) Mitchell, for whom Kleindienst had served as a deputy at the Justice Department and to whom he was greatly indebted for his promotion; and 2) Dean, who had been Kleindienst's own deputy from February 1969 to July 1970. Full control of the Justice Department probe was turned over to Henry Petersen, who had handled it all along—but with no great distinction in its limited early phase.
Dean and Mitchell were now on center stage in the developing drama. Both were called to testify by the grand jury. On April 14, Mitchell had been spotted by newsmen as he arrived quietly at the White House. Press Secretary Ziegler confirmed that the former Attorney General had been summoned to talk to John Ehrlichman, the President's chief adviser on domestic affairs. Ziegler would not disclose the nature of the talks. Yet it was soon learned that Nixon