THE HEARINGS: Dean's Case Against the President

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committee, was one of the men arrested at the Watergate on June 17 and that one of the other burglars carried a check from E. Howard Hunt Jr., a White House consultant. Apparently the first destruction of evidence was done by Gordon Strachan, who had served as liaison between the Nixon committee and Haldeman. Dean said that, on Haldeman's orders, Strachan had destroyed files from Haldeman's office, including "wiretap information from the D.N.C."

(Democratic National Committee).

Dean said he was then told by Ehrlichman to get word to Hunt "to get out of the country." Dean did so, but later the two reconsidered, thought it unwise, and tried to rescind the order.

Since Magruder had testified that he had passed along wiretapping plans and transcripts of some of the illegal interceptions to Strachan on the assumption they would go to Haldeman, this destruction of records seems to confirm that they had reached Haldeman.

Strachan, who has been offered limited immunity by the Ervin committee, thus apparently could discredit Haldeman's adamant denials of any advance knowledge of the Watergate wiretapping.

Ehrlichman's orders to get Hunt out of the country similarly implicate Nixon's other intimate aide in the first moments of the concealment. If both Haldeman and Ehrlichman lose credibility, the President's denials of cover-up knowledge would apparently have to rest on the claim that all of his close aides had deceived him, not just Dean and Mitchell.

EHRLICHMAN'S ROLE. Dean related another significant attempt to destroy evidence, this one originating with Ehrlichman. Dean had been given custody of the material found in the safe of Hunt, who had been employed as one of the news-leak-plugging White House "plumbers." Among the contents were a briefcase containing "loose wires, Chap Sticks with wires coming out of them, and instruction sheets for walkie-talkies." The papers included a fake State Department cable linking the Kennedy Administration to the 1963 assassination of South Viet Nam's President Diem and a psychological profile of former Pentagon Papers Defendant Daniel Ellsberg. Dean considered these "political dynamite." He asked Ehrlichman what to do with them.

"He told me to shred the documents and 'deep-six' the briefcase. I asked him what he meant by deep-six. He leaned back in his chair and said: 'You drive across the river on your way home at night, don't you? Well, when you cross over the bridge on your way home, just toss the briefcase into the river.' I told him in a joking manner that I would bring the materials over to him and he could take care of them because he also crossed the river on his way home. He said no thank you." Ehrlichman, asked about this by Mike Wallace on CBS'S 60 Minutes, replied that "shredding is an activity that has been foreign to my nature. I don't think I have shredded or requested the shredding of a document since I came to Washington five years ago."

GRAY'S PARTICIPATION. Dean said he thought it would be "incredible" to destroy evidence and finally decided not to follow Ehrlichman's orders. Instead, the political documents were given by Dean and Ehrlichman to then Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray III, with the warning that they must "never be

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