In New Finding, John Dean
Argues that the Origin of Watergate was "a Tip" Received by President
withheld that he appears to have been the one who received the "tip"
On September 17, 2009, during an
appearance on "Countdown
with Keith Olbermann", John Dean made a shocking but misleading claim.
First, start with MSNBC.com's description of Dean's appearance: "Former
Nixon counsel, John Dean, the key government witness during the Senate Watergate
hearings, reveals for the first time what the burglars were looking for when
they broke into the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel."
At the beginning of the
interview, Olbermann emphasized the importance of what Dean was about the
disclose, noting "...in
our number one story tonight, the first two great still unresolved question[s] about Watergate are now resolved. When the burglars broke into the
Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972, rifled through the place,
photographed it, planted listening devices, what exactly were they looking for?
Did President Nixon order the whole thing or just inspire it in some way?"
We‘ll get to Nixon‘s direct role or indirect role in a second. But
cut to the chase first. What exactly were the burglars supposed to
DEAN: Very clear. And this is based not on speculation. It‘s
based on documents, tapes, before the break-in and after. Nixon is
looking for one thing. He‘s looking for financial information to
embarrass the Democrats. What he‘s learned—he‘s gotten a tip that
there‘s a kick-back scheme in Miami with the Democratic Convention. He
believes this. He wants them to get dirt on the Democrats. He pushes
only one place you can get this information, Keith. It‘s in the DNC.
And so while he doesn‘t—I have no evidence that he gave a direct
order to go in there. He, in essence, put in play the only place you can
find the information he was looking for was in the DNC.
Dean's new revelation is that the origin of the Watergate break-in was a "tip" that Nixon
received about an alleged Democratic fundraising kickback scheme and Nixon's
subsequent desire for more information. If Dean's revelation is correct, it
would change the popular understanding of the origin of the Watergate break-in.
That's no small claim. A
reasonable person would then want to know more about the kickback
scheme and the role that it may have played in the Watergate break-in and other
"dirty tricks" operations. After all, Dean says, the matter is
However, what is less clear is
what role John Dean played with respect to the "tip" that led
ultimately to the Watergate break-in. According to Tony Ulasewicz, the former
New York City Police Department detective who by his own admission carried out a
total of 73 secret jobs on behalf of the Committee to Re-Elect the
President, Job 60 was to obtain information regarding the purported Democratic
kickback scheme in Miami. Ulasewicz reported to John Dean through Jack
Caulfield. A portion of Ulasewicz's handwritten notes outlining Job 60 from his interviews before
the Senate Watergate Committee appear below.
In a memorandum dated March 15,
1972, G. Gordon Liddy reported that Job 60 commenced three days earlier, on March
12. However, the memorandum raises more questions than it answers. For example,
who ordered Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt, and Tony Ulasewicz to Miami? According to
the Senate Watergate Committee testimony of Ulasewicz and Jack Caulfield, it was
Dean. Of course, John Dean denied the claim in his own testimony. Therefore,
we have to turn to the available records.
Studying the memorandum in
greater detail, it was written from G. Gordon Liddy to John Mitchell. However,
the notations and handwriting do not match Mitchell's handwriting. In fact, they
appear to match John Dean's handwriting. In the memorandum, Liddy followed up on
the allegations of a Democratic kick-back scheme. According to Liddy's unnamed
source, "the Democratic National Committee is receiving a 25 per cent
kickback from the funds raised through the exposition to be held at the Fontainebleau
Hotel and Convention Hall during the Democratic National Convention to be held
in Miami Beach in July, 1972." This is the tip that John Dean "reveal[ed]
for the first time" to Keith Olbermann. Liddy appeared to be on to something.
However, before leaving the
memorandum, it is also worth pointing out that while the memorandum was sent to John
Mitchell, there is no evidence he received it. Moreover, if the handwriting is
indeed John Dean's, it was therefore John Dean who received the "tip" about the kickback scheme first, before President Nixon ever received it. Also, note that
alongside the paragraph on page two of the memorandum in which Liddy reported
what he had discovered about the Democratic kickback scheme. In what
appears to be Dean's handwriting, Liddy is pressed to go further into the
investigation: "Need more info -- JD." Keep in mind that John Dean has
long maintained that the Nixon campaign's search for financial information about
Democrats and Democratic contributors was the origin of the Watergate break-in.
Dean is now refining his thinking to Keith Olbermann that the origin for the
break-in itself was the search for financial information, specifically the
alleged Democratic kickback scheme. Does this memorandum now prove that Dean was at the center of the search for
financial information about Democrats and Democratic contributors, as well as
the source of the "tip" Dean revealed to Keith Olbermann? Why would
Dean apparently set a trap for himself if indeed it is his handwriting?
When John Dean was interviewed by
Keith Olbermann last week, Dean was correct that Nixon received a
"tip" about a possible Democratic kickback scheme. But Dean has never
disclosed or disputed, provided the handwriting on the above Liddy memorandum is
in fact Dean's, that Dean himself not only received Nixon's "tip" before Nixon
himself knew of it, but Dean also authorized Gordon Liddy and those involved on
Job 60 to indeed get "more info." Lastly, one cannot help but wonder
why Olbermann did not question the source of the "tip" that Dean
revealed. If it is indeed such a novel revelation that may change our
understanding of the origin for the Watergate break-in, the greatest political
scandal in American history, wouldn't the obvious question then be why John
Dean--and not anyone else--knows about this alleged kickback scheme?