New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers.
Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 10 May 2022 07:01
A Senate hearing sets in motion a new crisis. With the cover-up unraveling, White House counsel John Dean takes matters into his own hands.
Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/americanscandal.
Support us by supporting our sponsors!
To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. Wondri app It's February 28, 1973 in Washington, D.C. L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI, makes his way through a Senate office building on Capitol Hill. He steps inside room 1202 and as he surveys the busy hearing room, Gray smooths his jacket and straightens his tie. In just a few minutes, Gray is going to sit in front of a panel of United States senators and endure what's likely to be a marathon of questions. Gray was nominated by President Nixon to be the permanent director of the FBI. But before he starts the job, he has to receive confirmation from the Senate. And that means surviving a series of public hearings which are bound to be grueling and will almost certainly focus on the issue of Watergate. It's a story that just won't go away. Monsigo, several men were caught breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Complex. When the FBI learned about the crime, their agents began a dog get investigation trying to understand why the burglars had targeted Democrats. But despite the broad scope of the investigation, the Bureau has still been criticized by lawmakers and journalists. Some have even suggested that Gray downplayed or ignored evidence that could damage the president. The smears have gotten ugly. But Gray doesn't think he's done anything wrong. It's true that he pledged his loyalty to the president and that he's collaborated with the president's allies. But that's the nature of the job. Gray serves at the pleasure of the president. Still his larger purpose is as clear as it's ever been. Gray is a longtime civil servant. He's dedicated to American democracy and the rule of law. And he believes that's all the Senate needs to hear that his heart is in the right place and that he has what it takes to be the next permanent director of the FBI. Gray takes a seat in front of the senators and the committee's chairman calls the hearing to order. The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to begin hearings on the confirmation of Patrick Gray to be director of the FBI. Now, now Mr. Gray, I want to get to the heart of an important matter. We're talking about Watergate, of course. Tell us about your first instructions to the Bureau after you learned about the break in. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd be happy to answer all your questions. To begin with, after I learned about the burglary, I got on a telephone and called my number two man. We started in right away. What were your instructions? Told him to go to the hill, spare no horses. It was my decision to conduct an aggressive investigation. And was that done? Yes, sir. That has been done. When I learned the identity of Frank McCord, one of the burglars and a security officer for the president's reelection campaign, I knew we were in a situation that could have all kinds of possibilities. Now, Mr. Gray, there's been a lot of reporting in the press and by now the FBI investigation must be a large case file. What is your policy if this committee would like to see that file? Gray pauses. This question puts him in a difficult position. On one hand, President Nixon demanded complete loyalty and made it clear that Gray might have to lie to protect the administration. Gray knows that if it's made public, the FBI's case file could damage things. But the president gave conflicting instructions. He also told Gray to be open and forthright during his senate hearings. So that's what Gray is going to do. Well, Mr. Chairman, even though the following statement could be interpreted to shatter precedent, I feel that this situation is unique. I'm prepared to offer that any member of the US Senate may examine the FBI's file on Watergate. We have nothing to hold back. Thank you, Mr. Gray. Moving on, we have a question from another member of the panel. Thank you. And Mr. Gray, this is related. The White House has from time to time asked for certain files. Has it not? That's correct. I've also given John Dean the White House Council copies of the interview reports. And according to the summary you've provided, Mr. Dean was also present during the FBI interviews at the White House. Gray pauses again. The senator has just asked whether the FBI allowed a top White House official to get involved in the Bureau's investigation. An investigation looking at potential crimes connected to the White House. That could give the appearance that the Bureau's investigation is compromised. Still, Gray is not going to hold back. Not after the president told him to be honest at these hearings. That is correct. Mr. Dean was present during the FBI interviews. Is that a normal procedure? An honest answer to that question has got to be known. That is not normal procedure. The senators break out in quiet murmurs. And as the hearing continues and Gray answers more of the senator's questions, the gravity of his statement suddenly dawns on him. Gray just admitted that the White House is deeply involved in the FBI's investigation. He made clear that he handed over documents to the White House Council. And in the spirit of candor, Gray offered the Senate access to those same FBI case funds. All of this may have given Gray the appearance of cooperation and honesty and that may help him secure his confirmation. But Gray also knows he might have just planted a bomb. One that could destroy his own career. Maybe even the president himself. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well, we agree on that too. Sachi Art. They have art works from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles. So you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls. And my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to sachiart.com and enter code podcast to check out. Find art you love today. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting and gardens and landscapes with around 320 different proprietary varieties, including classics limelight hydrangea and little Henry sweet spire. All of their shrubs are trialed and tested for eight to ten years to ensure they outperform anything else on the market. Look for proven winners color choice shrubs in the distinctive white containers at your local garden center. Learn more and find a local retailer at proven winners color choice dot com slash one Dree. That's proven winners color choice dot com slash one Dree. From Wondery I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scandal. In the aftermath of the Watergate burglary, President Richard Nixon found himself under siege. Although Nixon himself did not order the break in senior members of his administration and reelection campaign were involved in the crime. The truth began to trickle out as reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein continued digging into Watergate. At the same time, the FBI was pursuing an investigation of the break in two. And despite the president's efforts to limit the FBI's work, federal officials uncovered damning evidence about the burglary and the involvement of some of President Nixon's closest allies. The crisis continued to mount as the United States Senate opened its own investigation. By that point, President Nixon had already ordered a cover up, but with his back now against a wall, Nixon knew he had to take action to protect himself. The president ordered his aides to come up with a new game plan, a way to beat back the Senate's investigation and to protect his administration from any further attacks. One of the aides tasked with developing this plan was John Dean, the White House Council. Dean had long been loyal to the president, but with the crisis growing deeper by the day, Dean soon realized he would have to take bold action on his own. This is episode four, a cancer within. It's March 21st, 1973 in Washington, DC. John Dean steps into the Oval Office where he finds President Nixon busy at work behind his desk. Nixon lifts a finger and tells his White House Council that he'll be with him in a moment. He needs to finish reading something first. Dean nods and takes a seat. As he waits, he watches the president, trying to gauge his mood. When he sees his reassuring, President Nixon looks calm. His eyes are wide and alert. And as he flips through the brief he's reading, the commander and chief doesn't look troubled or distracted, even with all the issues stemming from water gates swirling around him. Dean knows things haven't exactly gone according to plan. Dean himself has had to break the law in order to maintain the cover up. He's had to funnel hush money to the Watergate burglars and he's even had to shred incriminating documents. As a lawyer, he knows he put himself in legal jeopardy, but Dean is more than just an attorney. He's a proud American and a proud supporter of the president. And despite everything that's happened, Dean has remained loyal to Nixon and willing to take on difficult tasks as long as they protect the president. Still that does not mean Dean is going to walk around wearing blinders. Watergate has begun to spin out of control and if Dean is going to protect the president, the two men need to have a frank talk. So when Nixon looks back up, Dean announces that he needs to share some difficult news. The Watergate cover up seems like it could blow open at any moment. The burglars are awaiting sentencing. What their leader Howard Hunt is now blackmailing the president. Hunt, a former CIA officer, is demanding larger hush money payments and if he doesn't get the money, Hunt says he'll spill the truth about the break in. The president nods gravely as he takes in the news. Dean is glad to see that the president is concerned and that he's got Nixon's attention because Dean believes it's time to pivot and to take a much different course of action rather than just continuing to pay off burglars for their silence. But before he can explain his new plan, Nixon asks how much money it would take to keep Hunt and the other burglars happy. Dean checks his head. He's crunched the numbers and it's not good. They probably need a million dollars over the next two years. Nixon pauses as he considers the high price tag. But Dean is surprised when Nixon says they could get the money and they could get it in cash. They won't have any issue keeping the burglars silent. This is not what Dean wanted to hear. They can't just stay the course. So Dean explains how they've got bigger problems than just money. Everyone involved in the cover up is starting to get lawyers. They're obviously feeling exposed and it's no thanks to El Patrick Gray who revealed too much when he spoke at his Senate confirmation here in. People are now spooked and it looks like they're getting ready to save themselves even if that means damaging the administration. Hearing the reminder about Patrick Gray and the FBI, Nixon's Scals and he explains what all of this adds up to. Dean's cover story has been broken. For a moment Dean stares at the president. That comment didn't sound like a mere observation. It sounded like a warning that Dean is compromised and Nixon is prepared to turn him into a scapegoat. Dean is unsettled as he processes what might be a threat. He knows the president wouldn't hesitate to throw him under the bus despite Dean's loyalty and personal sacrifices. It's a scary possibility but Dean won't let that happen. So we again hammered home a message to the president. Watergate and the cover up has become a cancer on the presidency and if Nixon wants to protect himself the problems have to be carved away. Nixon leans back in his chair and furrows his brows. He asks first suggestions what should they do. Dean is relieved to see the president still looking to him for advice. Their relationship might be salvageable. So Dean says they should cut their losses and admit a cover up did take place but at the lowest level possible. Doing so would cause some damage but ultimately it would insulate the president protecting him from any association with crimes. Dean finishes laying out his proposal and to his surprise Nixon says he's on board. Dean and the others should go ahead and hash out the details they should find a way to pin blame at a lower level and end this fiasco once and for all. Dean nods. He now has his orders and it's time to take action. So Dean rises and exits the oval office but as he steps back into the corridor of the West Wing he notices he's sweating and his heart is pounding. The president did make the right decision. It is the smartest plan moving forward but Dean is shaken. He's been deeply loyal to the president committing any number of crimes on behalf of his administration but Dean cannot let go of the president's subtle threat that Dean will be turned into a fall guy if the situation calls for it. Dean knows there's no way he can defend himself if he's up against president Nixon. It's an unfair fight so Dean has only one option. He has to work harder and do more to make sure this crisis quickly comes to an end. A week later White House counsel John Dean knocks on a wooden door in the West Wing of the White House. A few moments pass then the door opens a crack revealing a sliver of a man's face. He has blood shut eyes and stubble on his chin and for a moment he pauses squinting back at Dean. When the man finally opens the door Dean realizes who he was looking at. Chad McGrooter the deputy director of president Nixon's reelection campaign and one of the men who authorized the Watergate burglary McGrooter normally looks clean cut with short brown hair and expensive suits. But gazing at him now Dean can tell there's something off. McGrooter looks like he hasn't slept for days. He's warned then there's something menacing about him. McGrooter orders Dean into the room and as he steps into the small office Dean quickly takes in the surroundings. The room is messy and dim. All the blinds are closed tight and sitting behind a desk is John Mitchell the former attorney general and former head of the president's reelection campaign. Mitchell is sitting smoking a wooden pipe and avoiding eye contact with Dean. Suddenly Dean gets a bad feeling like he just stepped in front of a firing squad. Dean starts to speak but McGrooter tells him to take a seat and he reminds Dean why they called this meeting. Days ago the Watergate burglary James McCord decided to start talking. McCord revealed that he and his fellow defendants had committed perjury during their trial. He also claimed that the burglars had been directed to lie under oath by President Nixon's allies including McGrooter and Dean. The news was devastating and the statements through Dean's plans and to disarray. McCord made clear that top officials were involved in a coverup. Dean could no longer pin it on just lower level employees. McCord statements also set in motion another possibility that Dean may be called to testify in front of a federal grand jury and if that happens Dean may be forced to contradict previous statements by other Nixon officials potentially implicating them for crimes. Mitchell the former attorney general takes a puff from his pipe and locks eyes with Dean. He says he's heard rumors that Dean is planning to spill the truth. Dean is about to respond but McGrooter beats him to it saying there's no way Dean can tell the truth. McGrooter already lied in front of a grand jury about his involvement in Watergate and if Dean speaks honestly he'll expose McGrooter to charges of perjury. Dean has to stick to the cover story. He should be willing to make any sacrifice that's necessary for the good of the administration. Mitchell takes another slow drag from his pipe and as Dean looks back and forth at the two men he realizes that his worst fears have come true. Nixon's allies have grown paranoid. They know this entire scheme is starting to unravel and they're asking Dean to take a huge risk to commit perjury in order to protect everyone else. The room goes quiet as the men wait for Dean's response to frightening still moment and Dean knows that with one wrong move he could earn himself some powerful enemies. Dean says yes the more he thinks about the aftermath of Watergate the more he thinks they can all work it out. McGrooter asks if that means he's willing to play ball and Dean nods. He'll corroborate their false testimony and protect them from charges of perjury because they're partners. McGrooter steals a glance at Mitchell. Then he grins and reaches out with a firm handshake. That's great news. It's all they needed to hear. Dean nods enforcing a grin. He wishes the men well promising that they're going to get through this that they'll be okay. Soon the meeting ends and Dean steps back into the hallway trying to look easy and calm but when the door closes he takes a deep breath and as fast as he can he hurries away. Dean just lied. He is not going to play ball and he is not going to commit perjury just to save the other men involved in Watergate. He didn't think you could ever come to this that Watergate could spin so far out of control but it's become a worst case scenario and Dean knows it's time to change course to protect himself even if that means sacrificing some of the president's men. It's the evening of March 30th 1973 two days later. John Dean enters a five story apartment building just outside Rockville Maryland. He presses a button for the elevator but as he waits for the elevator to arrive suddenly he starts to panic. He asks himself what is he doing here? Dean knows he shouldn't be here. He should go. He should leave right away and get back to DC but then the elevator door opens and Dean shakes his head. He might be scared but it is too late to turn back now. A minute later Dean steps out of the elevator and approaches an apartment on the left side of the hall. When the door opens he comes face to face with a criminal defense lawyer named Charles Shafer a lean man with graying hair. John come on in we've got a lot to talk about. Dean follows Shafer into a room that's almost completely empty. Charlie this this place is a little creepy why are we meeting here? I use this space when I have a client who doesn't want to be seen in my office and I figure you might meet that description. Am I right? Yeah you're right. Well take a seat and let's get to it. You're in pretty deep with the whole Watergate situation aren't you? I am yeah it's true and you're looking for help that's also true but now that I'm here I don't I don't know if I can speak openly it's it's a lot. John telling the truth can be a cathartic experience I think you know that you'll feel better I'm not looking for a psychotherapy Charlie. Trying to find a way out of my bad situation well if that's the case you're in the right place but first you have to talk to me just start from the beginning Dean runs a hand through his hair he thinks back to the early days of Watergate. Well I'll start by saying White House officials myself included were involved in the Watergate coverer okay let's talk specifics Dean pauses looked at there's a lot I came here because I want a cooperation deal I'll tell the truth but I want some guarantee I won't be prosecuted do you think you can get me that well I like everything it depends you might get a deal but I can't make any promises until you tell me more of the facts well fine I was in the room when Gordon Liddy first suggested breaking into the DNC it was all part of a bigger plan crazy stuff aspinas now we all know the break in went south but the burglars aren't talking for a reason and that's because I've been sending them money a bunch of us Erlichman Mitchell McRooter among others we've done a lot to conceal the truth well that's interesting so after all that effort why now why are you ready to talk now because the cover up is falling apart the investigation is depressed people are running scared and it seems like people close to the president and maybe maybe even the president himself they may be trying to pin everything on me they're just trying to save themselves and that's why I'm here I need to protect myself and I need to know if you can help me well of course John I will help you but it sounds like your guilty of some pretty serious crimes still if we're smart and careful you might be able to negotiate a path forward one that involves minimal jail time Dean puts his head in his hands did everything thinking I was one of the good guys and I still can't shake the feeling that betraying people who trust me might make me one of the bad guys yeah that's tough and it's not for me to say but I'll tell you this I think you made the right choice coming here it is the right move to come clean Dean has been carrying a heavy burden for months shafers only echoing Dean's own feelings it is the right move to come clean telling the truth felt liberating but Dean knows that honesty only goes so far soon he'll have to tell his story to prosecutors maybe even Congress his life could be turned upside down and even if he's praised for exposing Watergate there's no doubt Dean will face the wrath the president of the United States the best weddings are always filled with unforgettable moments and personal thoughtful touches like my friend Cecilie's wedding were the groom toss the bouquet for any kind of wedding you want there's one place to start Zola Zola has everything you need all in one place they've thought of everything venues invites registry and more and they'll be with you every step of your wedding planning journey whatever your style or budget Zola has you covered with venues photographers florists and more to make your wedding happen once you've set the date you can send your save the dates and invitations right on Zola too there's so many great designs to choose from and you can get a matching wedding website for free wedding planning shouldn't take over your life and Zola has thought of everything so you can plan the celebration that's right for the two of you start planning the wedding you want at Zola dot com that's Z O L A dot com what if your family was the victim of a home invasion where you woke up in the morgue or you were seriously injured miles from help what would you do this is actually happening asks our listeners this very question while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance this is actually happening brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them you'll hear stories about conflict turmoil or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives even thriving afterward the new season of this is actually happening is available ad free only with one dream plus and if this new season isn't enough you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to one dream plus subscribers join one dream plus on apple podcasts or on the one dream app it's April 15th 1973 in Rockville, Maryland White House counsel John Dean takes a seat at a long table and nods at his attorney it's been a long day and the questions have been tough but Dean is ready to get back to it to keep trading information with prosecutors with the hope that he may be able to earn a cooperation deal Dean's lawyer head to the door and calls back in a pair of federal prosecutors as the men take their seats at the conference table they review everything Dean has admitted over the past few days how he and fellow officials orchestrated a cover up of Watergate how they've been paying off the burglars in exchange for their silence Dean nods but it's difficult to hear the prosecutors lay out the crimes like this but in some way it's also a relief he's done hiding now he's speaking openly he may be able to earn legal immunity and avoid a long prison sentence the prosecutors finish summarizing Dean's admissions and look up from their notes Dean gets a small sliver of hope this might be it they might be ready to offer a deal but the prosecutors have bad news Dean has not given them enough they want more and if they don't get it there's no deal for immunity Dean has crestfallen he doesn't know what to do he could potentially implicate President Nixon and admit his role in the cover up but that's a line he's not willing to cross at least not yet Dean turns to his attorney with a look of desperation but he can see in his attorney's eyes that the prosecutors aren't fooling around Dean will not get any kind of deal unless he speaks up and gives them more Dean rags his memory trying to dig up something useful and it's at that moment that Dean remembers a White House secret that could change the entire conversation his heart pounding Dean tells the prosecutors that he has information about another major criminal case on its surface it appears unrelated to Watergate but reveals a lot about the men behind the break in the kind of crimes they're willing to commit the prosecutors lean forward and nod they are listening Dean begins a story about the Watergate criminals men like G Gordon lady and E Howard Hunt the group was involved in another burglary which took place in the summer of 1971 it was in Los Angeles California and the group broke into the office of a psychiatrist named Dr. Lewis Fielding one of the prosecutors races a eyebrow he doesn't see what a shrink has to do with political espionage but Dean explains this wasn't an ordinary doctor one of his clients was a man named Daniel Ellsberg at the mention of Daniel Ellsberg the lead prosecutor sits back with a look of shock everyone knows Ellsberg he's the former government consultant who leaked a classified study on the Vietnam War a series of documents now known as the Pentagon papers the leak was an international sensation that fuel public criticism of the war and hurt the public's trust in government Ellsberg quickly became one of Nixon's most reviled enemies and that's why Dean explains Nixon's operatives broke into the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist they were looking for embarrassing information about the whistleblower material they could use to damage Ellsberg's credibility in the end the burglars walked away empty handed but that doesn't change the fact that they committed a felony and it offers further proof that the president's allies have a history of committing politically motivated crimes the lead prosecutor leans forward and tells Dean that this story is incredible but they can't offer any deals unless Dean has proof Dean smile saying that that won't be hard to get the justice department already has the proof it's inside their watergate files there are photos of Liddy and Hunt as the two men cased the psychiatrist office before the break in the two prosecutors glance at each other and Dean tries to suppress a grin he can tell that they weren't aware of the photos and he knows he just alerted them to evidence that they already had a moment later the prosecutors pack up their bags and thank Dean for his time as they make their way out they tell him that they may soon have some good news the lead about the psychiatrist is exactly the kind of information they're after and it could very much help Dean's case for immunity but Dean knows this is not the end of the conversation he's going to have to keep talking and some day soon he may have to tell the full truth about the president and Nixon's role in the cover up that afternoon president Richard Nixon climbs the gray steps of the executive office building across from the White House it's one of the oldest buildings in Washington with large columns and imposing granite facade Nixon has always thought he was a beautiful structure but what Nixon especially likes about the building is that it houses his private office a place where he can host secret meetings with his associates meetings that have grown more regular and more intense in recent days with the cover up unraveling Nixon's top aides have begun to panic it's clear they see Watergate as a full blown crisis but the president isn't panicking he still thinks he can get control of the situation and that's why he's meeting with Richard the clienteans the current US Attorney General and a helpful ally clienteans called Nixon and sounded upset but Nixon knows whatever the issue it's not insurmountable he just needs to calm his attorney general and make sure the FBI's Watergate investigation is under control Nixon climbs a flight of stairs and as he approaches his private office he sees clienteans a man who's middle aged and a bit stocky mr president I'm so glad we could meet now I need to start to tell you hang on Richard don't say a word until we have a little privacy the attorney general nods as Nixon unlocks the door and the two enter the office all right now we can talk what's going on well mr president I have some bad news your counsel John Dean has been meeting with the Watergate prosecutors I heard the prosecution wanted to meet with him but Dean knows what to do he'll steer them away Watergate went no higher than Jed McGruder well sir that would be all well and good but Dean has been talking about what happened after the break in he's implicating your men in a cover up Nixon stairs no no Dean wouldn't do that to me sir I'm under the impression that he feels he has to he's trying to gain immunity what the hell does that mean immunity what's he telling them well if my sources are correct he's pointing the finger at some of your closest associates Erlichman Haldeman he's saying that they help facilitate the cover up and I put you in a tough position he's turned on me he's trying to destroy my administration you can see why I wanted me with you so what comes next it's time for me to have a talk with Dean on this president what is your planning to do I'll tell you one thing we're gonna have to take care of business Nixon dismisses the attorney general and sitting alone once again in his private office the president begins to bristle with anger his ally his confidant John Dean just committed an act of betrayal that kind of backstabbing is unthinkable and unforgivable for a moment Nixon feels the impulse to go after Dean to crush him with a full way to his executive power but the more he thinks about it the more Nixon realizes he can't strike back Dean is linked too closely with the presidency if Dean goes down he could take Nixon down with him revenge is not the best option at least for now Nixon realizes he'll have to temper his anger he has to remain focused on the most effective strategy and when he does speak with Dean he'll have to strongly persuade his counsel not to make any rash decisions later that evening John Dean takes a seat across from the president of the United States it's 920 at night and the two men are meeting in the president's private suite and the executive office building as Dean gazes at the president to tremor a fear shoots up the spine Nixon is sitting in the shadows it's only a pale lamp casting a dim glow on one side of his face there's something alarming dangerous volatile rage that the president is barely concealing Nixon begins by saying he knows the truth he knows that Dean his own counsel has implicated his chief of staff Bob Haldeman and his top domestic policy advisor John Erlichman and Nixon knows that Dean committed this betrayal while lying to the administration making everyone think he was trustworthy Nixon leans forward with the scow he wants to know what Dean has to say for himself taking a deep breath Dean tries to compose his thoughts he can imagine that the president is furious and feels hurt and his first impulses to try to make things right to appease the president and make him happy but Dean knows he has to be honest he reminds the president that nothing has changed since they spoke a few weeks ago Dean still believes that the Watergate conspiracy has to be brought to an end it still has the potential to destroy Nixon but it was clear that Nixon wasn't ready to put an end to the cover up so Dean decided to do it for him he began naming the officials involved in the conspiracy and he even admitted to his own crimes Dean is willing to make a personal sacrifice if it saves the presidency but he wants to be clear Dean refuses to be made the scapegoat for the entire scandal Nixon narrows his eyes for a moment sits just staring at Dean and then the president asks the question Dean knows has been hovering in the background this entire time Nixon wants to know if Dean implicated him the president for any crimes Dean tells the truth he has not told the prosecutors about Nixon's own involvement he has no plans to do so he is still loyal to the president hearing this Nixon exhales in relief and he speaks quietly as he admits he knows he could have done a better job handling the Watergate problem he's gotten too involved and he exposed himself to legal risks but Nixon appreciates Dean's honesty and loyalty that's what a White House council is for and so unless Dean has anything else to say he can leave Dean pulses there's a lot he could tell the president and a lot his conscience is begging him to admit that's a conversation for another time right now all that matters is that president Nixon seems to have forgiven him does not appear that he's about to face any kind of retribution so Dean rises and shakes the president's hand and together the two make a vow they're going to get through this and even if things get ugly Watergate is not going to sink this presidency if you're into true crime the generation why podcast is essential listening we started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders crimes and conspiracy theories together and we'd love for you to join us generation why is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there and we are still at it unraveling a new case every week we break down infamous cases like the evil genius bank robbery and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game we cover every angle breaking down theories diving deep into forensic evidence and interviewing those close to the case and with over 450 episodes there's a little something for every true crime listener follow the generation why podcast on Amazon music or every listen to podcasts or you can listen ad free by joining wonder plus in the wonder app it's April 16th 1973 in Washington DC pale morning light streams into Richard Nixon's private office as the president paces anxiously around the room Nixon knows he shouldn't be upset he's the most powerful man in the world yet he has to admit that right now he feels exposed all last night he kept coming back to his conversation with John Dean the White House Council Nixon isn't convinced that Dean is trustworthy and that's why Nixon is looking for more intelligence he needs to figure out whether it was the right move letting John Dean off the hook or whether it's time to take a more drastic step Nixon stops pacing and he is that you well come on in the door opens and Henry Peterson an assistant to turret general enters the room Peterson is a no nonsense kind of man and one of Nixon's closest allies in the justice department he often provides inside information that helps the president stay one step ahead of the watergate investigation and normally Peterson is unflappable but today he looks flustered mr president there's been some developments we're learning that John Dean is becoming a significant problem Dean promised he wouldn't say anything to incriminate me well sir I'm afraid things might have changed Dean's lawyer is now saying that he wants immunity and he wants it now and he's made it clear that he's willing to play hardball to get it well is he only making vague threats or is the man actually promising to do something Dean says that if he's not granted immunity he's gonna put your whole administration on trial and what exactly does that mean it means that if he's put on the stand he'll say he was just following orders from your men and from you now hold on a second not just haul him in or look man he brought me into this he did sir no that's son of I can't win can't win if he gets immunity he could spill everything but if he doesn't get immunity he might be bitter and try to drag me down with him it does seem like a bit of our poker game sir Nixon leans against a chair trying to figure out a way forward this seems like a lose lose situation but suddenly Nixon gets an idea no no there's a way to stay a step ahead I could come out publicly and say Dean will not get immunity I can influence decisions at the Department of Justice Dean knows that but but what does that accomplish you don't see it if Dean knows a cooperation deal is off the table he can't go on and point his finger to other people he'd only incriminate himself but like you said he could grow bitter he could try to drag you down with him out of spite not if he thinks there's a chance somewhere down the line that I'll give him a pardon uh sir that's a big risk you think it'll work I don't know you tell me what other options are there the assistant attorney general remains silent and for Nixon it's a sign that he's right backing John Dean into a corner is the only way he can win this battle Dean has always maintained that he's a man of principle but like everyone else at the end of the day he's only motivated by self interest luckily president Nixon is still the one in power he can single handedly shape the policy of the justice department and if Peterson is right if this is a game of poker the Nixon is the house and he can deal the cards anyway he wants it's July 12 1973 three months later it's early in the morning as Alexander Hague strides through the White House carrying today's briefing for the president Hague is the new chief of staff and having served in the army as a general he likes to start the day early and get going on the pressing issues facing the White House Hague checks his watch the president should be up by now but for some reason he still hasn't gotten noticed that the president is even out of bed so Hague turns on his heels and heads for the staircase leading to the second floor he's going to peer in to see if Nixon is awake and if he is they'll get going with today's briefing but as Hague walks through the White House he can't help but notice the downcast look on some of the staffer's faces and while he is relatively new on the job Hague has no illusion why people look so unhappy the last few months have been turbulent for this administration Hague's predecessor Bob Haldeman resigned after White House counsel John Dean implicated him for crimes related to Watergate but it didn't stop with Haldeman John Erlichman the president's top domestic policy advisor also resigned and so did the attorney general Richard Klein deansed who cited his close ties to men currently under investigation and the turmoil continued to grow more intense when John Dean the White House counsel was fired Dean had offered shocking revelations to the Watergate prosecutors he'd hoped that doing so would earn him a cooperation deal with the Department of Justice but the president made sure Dean wouldn't get also easy Nixon made a public statement saying that Dean and others involved in Watergate would not receive immunity this move appeared to be an attack against Dean an effort to cut off his leverage so he would stay silent but Nixon's plan faced a setback Dean still testified in front of the Senate committee investigating Watergate making allegations against his former colleagues and implicating the president in the cover up it was a blockbuster event one that Americans across the country watched on tv Dean shocking testimony also opened up another wound in the Nixon administration which had already been damaged by the ongoing scandal and looking around at the White House now Hague can see that morale has sunk to a new low even Nixon himself seems tired and hangered this must be one of the toughest stretches of his entire presidency but as chief of staff Hague knows he can make a difference he can help clean up this mess from Watergate and cut down on the sense of chaos that's spreading through the ranks and he can help the president get his agenda back on track soon Hague arrives on the second floor of the White House he heads down a narrow carpeted hallway as he approaches the president's bedroom Hague hears muffled but violent coughing he picks up his pace and when he arrives at the president's door he knocks loudly there's the sound of more coughing and then Nixon calls out saying Hague can enter but when he opens the door Hague is startled by the sight in front of him Nixon is lying in bed gasping for air the president hacks out another cough Hague asks if he's okay Nixon grumbles saying he's fine he just woke up feeling a little sick but Hague stares in shock president does not seem well certainly worse than feeling a little sick and then Nixon turns over coughing even louder than before that's when Hague sees the blood trickling out of Nixon's mouth and landing on the white sheets of his bed Hague springs forward alarmt he tells the president that he has to see a doctor right away Nixon pushes back repeating that he's fine it's just a cold but Hague won't hear it the president is clearly sick he needs help so Hague runs to call a doctor saying the president needs emergency care Hague then waits beside Nixon's bed watching the president cough like a man who's dying Hague knew the administration was crumbling under the pressure from Watergate but now the scandal is clearly taking a physical toll on the president himself man whose job is to lead the free world Hague knows it can't go on like this something has to change because if it doesn't if the Watergate scandal gets any bigger the president and the country could be a mortal danger from wandering this is episode four of Watergate from American's game in our next episode president Nixon comes under scrutiny from a special prosecutor and with evidence of a crime adding up the president faces a day of reckoning if you like our show please give us a five star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends i also have two other podcasts you might like American history tellers and business movers follow on apple podcasts amazon music or wherever you're listening right now or you can listen to new episodes early and ad free by subscribing to one degree plus in apple podcasts or in the wonderamp you'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode knows supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free another way you can support the show is by filling out a small survey at wondery.com slash survey tell us what topics we might come her next you can also find us and me on twitter follow me at Lindsay A Graham Lindsay with an A middle initially and thank you if you'd like to learn more about watergate we recommend the books king Richard by Michael Dobbs and watergate by Fred Emory this episode contains reenactments and traumatized details and while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said all our dramatizations are based on historical research american scandalous hosted edited and executed produced by me Lindsay Graham for airship audio editing by Molly Bach sound design by Derek Burns music by Lindsay Graham this episode is written by Hannibal DS edited by Christina Malzberg our senior producer is gay ribbon executive producers are Stephanie Jen's Jenny Lauer Bachman and Marsha Louis for one