American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

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Watergate | The President's Decision | 2

Watergate | The President's Decision | 2

Tue, 26 Apr 2022 07:01

The Washington Post begins investigating a mysterious crime. President Nixon confronts a crisis.

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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. It's June 17, 1972 in Washington, D.C. It's a Saturday morning and Bob Woodward is lying in bed in his one room apartment. Morning light begins drifting into his bedroom, but Woodward remains sound asleep. He needs the rest. It was another long and grueling week for the 29-year-old reporter for the Washington Post. And Saturday is for one of the few times he can actually catch up on sleep, so he can recharge and get back to covering crime and corruption. But this morning Woodward isn't so lucky. He's in the middle of a dream when his phone rings unexpectedly. Woodward's eye is shoot open. He groans and brushes his brown hair from his eyes. Then he sits up and reaches for the receiver. This is Woodward. Oh hey Bob, did I wake you up? Woodward suppresses a groan. It's the city editor at the post, and that can mean only one thing. Woodward is about to get an assignment, one that's gonna get him out of bed and bring him into the office. No, I wasn't sleeping just waking up a bit. Are you sure you sound a little groggy? I can call back. Nah, don't bother. What's going on? Well, I've got something for you. There's been a burglary, and I want you to look into it. A burglary? Has there anyone else who can take it? Well sure, Bob, but I think you're the right man for the story. Woodward rubs his eyes as he looks out the window. Look, I know these stories have got to get covered, but I'm tired of covering the local crime. You know I've been trying to do something bigger. Look, I get it. You've been assigned your fair share of crooked cops and dirty restaurants. And I know you just finished that series about George Wallace in the assassination attempt. But you gotta listen to me. This burglary is bigger than those. You haven't covered a story like this one. What in the world do you say? Five men got busted. They had cameras and electronic equipment. They weren't robbing some jewelry store. They hit the Democratic headquarters. A political party's office? They don't have any cash lying around anything valuable at all. I know. It doesn't make sense. But you think it could be something big? Maybe, maybe not. But we can't say for sure unless we do the work, right? So what do you say? Come in, make a few calls. Then this afternoon there's a prelim hearing. The suspects are all going to be down at the courthouse. So get down there and sniff it out. Woodward takes a deep breath. He did want to take the day off, but this lead has peaked his interest. Now wait, you said they had cameras and electronic equipment? That's right. Kind of tools you'd use to spy on someone. That's what I'm thinking. Okay, you sold me. I'm on my way. Woodward hangs up and throws the covers off his bed. And as he gets stressed, he mulls over the story. This Watergate paper is unlikely to be a big national story. It's probably just another petty crime. And while Woodward has only been at the post for nine months, he's still ready to move on from these kinds of small stories. He wants bigger and more complex pieces. Still, Woodward has to admit that there is something unusual about this. And that makes it worth looking into. Because while it could be just a matter of some guys looking to score some quick cash, as editor is right, the breaking at the Watergate could be something more, a political stunt, or maybe even political espionage. American scandal is sponsored by the new audiobook, Killing the Legends, the 12th audiobook, and the multi-million-selling Killing Series from Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Muhammad Ali. Three icons known everywhere in every nation across every culture. They had everything. Fame, money, the admiration of millions. But their lives spun out of control at the hands of those they most trusted. Killing the legends explores the lives, legacies, and tragic deaths of these three legends. Each experienced a man's success, then failures that forced them to change. Each faced the challenge of growing old and fields that privileged youth. And finally, each became isolated, cocooned by wealth, but vulnerable to the demands of those in their innermost circles. Killing the legends is available now, wherever audiobooks are sold. Start listening. You've already earned some fun, so have it. It's like giving yourself permission to eat dessert first. With best fiends and exciting puzzle adventure game, you can have fiendish fun anywhere anytime. How often do you let yourself have some hard earned fun? Whatever your answer is, you deserve way more. Add some joy to your daily routine with best fiends. The puzzle adventure game you won't be able to put down. Brand new events and challenges pop up all year round. So you've always got a chance to earn exclusive in-game items, characters, and rewards. You've earned your fun time. Go to the App Store or Google Play to download best fiends for free. Plus, earn even more with $5 worth of in-game rewards when you reach level 5. That's friends without the R. Best Fiends. From Wondry, I'm Lindsay Graham, and this is American Skin. In the lead up to the 1972 election, President Richard Nixon's re-election committee hatched a plan. They would break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. They would gather information on their political enemies, and the burglars would install equipment allowing them to continue spying on democratic staffers. The plan moved ahead, but it quickly went awry. On June 17, 1972, in the early hours of the morning, five of Nixon's operatives were caught breaking into the DNC's headquarters. For law enforcement, the crime at first seemed inexplicable, but the FBI quickly launched an investigation attempting to figure out the burglars' motives. But law enforcement officials weren't the only ones looking into the crime. Two young journalists at the Washington Post began to report on the Watergate case. They pursued leads and examined every clue, and it wasn't long before they realized that the men behind the break-in all had direct ties to the Nixon administration. As the two reporters pursued the story, they followed a trail corruption and crime that seemed to lead to the White House, and a presidential administration working very hard to cover up its tracks. This is Episode 2, the President's decision. It's the morning of June 17, 1972, and G. Gordon Liddy is standing in the basement of the White House's West Wing. He's nervous and sweaty, and any minute he's going to deliver news that's certain to spiral into a heated conflict. Liddy was the architect of the Watergate burglary, and right now he's standing inside the intelligence command center known as the situation room. It was the only place he was certain he could find a secure phone line, and security and a guarantee of privacy are what Liddy needs more than anything right now. Just earlier this morning, the Watergate burglary collapsed into chaos. Liddy can't stop replaying all the confusion, the shriek of walkie-talkie feedback, the moment that he learned police were arresting his men, and Liddy's own frantic escape from the Watergate hotel. There wasn't a chance he'd catch even a minute of sleep, especially knowing he'd have to recount the disaster to senior members of the President's re-election committee. So Liddy paces around the situation room, waiting for the phone to ring. When it finally does, Liddy answers to the voice of Jeb McGruder, Deputy Director of the Committee to re-elect the President. Regruder sounds gruff and demands to know why Liddy called from a secure line, what happened with the break-in. Liddy runs a hand across his head and tells McGruder the grim news. All the burglars are now in police custody. McGruder is silent for a moment, but then he barks at Liddy, asking what the hell happened, how did the operation go so wrong? Liddy says he's not sure. Someone must have told the police. They sent an officer in civilian clothes, and that's what confused the lookout. While Liddy says there is some good news, so far there's no indication that the police are looking for him or e-houred hunt, the other senior member of the operation. On top of that, the burglars are mostly Cuban-Americans with no direct ties to the White House. They'll likely keep quiet when they face questioning. McGruder breathes a sigh of relief, and says that's all good to hear. But then Liddy tells him the bad news. One of the burglars was James McCord, a former CIA agent, and a current head of security for the committee to re-elect the president. He poses a serious risk. Hearing this news, McGruder unloads again, saying he can't believe it. What was Liddy thinking getting McCord involved? He's on the payroll for the Relection Committee. He is directly linked to the Nixon administration. That was a colossal mistake. Liddy is stung by the insults, and he doesn't think they're completely fair. He reminds McGruder that he's the one who insisted on a tight timetable for the whole operation. Liddy needed a bugging expert, and McCord was the only one he could find on short notice. So if McGruder needs someone to blame, he should take a look in the mirror. Hearing this, McGruder yells that the conversation is over. He has to go make another call. It's time to speak with their boss, John Mitchell, and give him an update on this nightmare. McGruder hangs up, the Liddy sets down the phone, dazed. It's not only that he disappointed his colleagues, and exposed the president to harm. But Liddy himself could very well go to prison. Liddy tries to calm himself by remembering that this mission was undertaking for the right reason. He was trying to get President Nixon re-elected. That's essential for the future of the country. Something Liddy will never apologize for. Still, Liddy is in no hurry to go to jail. He has to get home as soon as possible, and prepare to go into hiding. Several hours later, Washington Post's reporter Bob Woodward enters the Washington DC Superior Courthouse. He steps into a court room with worn wooden tables and fluorescent lights overhead. It's a courthouse he knows well. And if everything goes as expected, soon the Watergate burglars will go through their pre-trial motions. Nothing useful will come out of it, and Woodward will have to return to the newsroom and keep trying to figure out how this story adds up. Woodward surveys the courtroom, seeing if anything stands out. And it's then he notices something. In the middle row is a young man wearing an expensive suit. His eyes are also darting all across the room. He seems a little uncomfortable and out of place. Woodward needs to know more, so he takes a seat next to the man and strikes up a conversation. After some initial questions, he learns that the man is an attorney, but he's not representing the Watergate burglars. So Woodward asks what seems to be the next natural question. What's the attorney doing here then? But the man remains cagey saying, please don't take it personally. I just don't have anything to say. Woodward squints at the attorney. There's something off about him. Something hiding behind the evasive response. So Woodward presses again, asking the lawyer about his clients. The man repeats that the Watergate burglars are not his clients, and he's unwilling to speak any further. Hearing this, Woodward is now convinced there's more to this story than just a burglary. Something's going on. So he keeps pestering the attorney, asking questions. Until finally, the man admits he does know one of the defendants. He got a call in the middle of the night from the defendant's wife, and she told him about her husband's legal troubles. But that's all he's going to say. Woodward nods. He can tell the attorney is claiming up. So he turns back to the front of the courtroom and waits. Soon the five suspects are let in. They're wearing dark suits and maintained grim expressions as the prosecutor reads out the official charges. He adds that this isn't an everyday crime. The suspects seem to have a clandestine purpose, and for that reason they should not be released on bond. When the prosecutor finishes, the judge turns to the suspects and asks the men to describe their professions. One says that they're anti-communists. The other is not in agreement. The judge seems unconvinced and points at one of the suspects. The man has a square jaw and a weary look in his eyes. The judge asks this suspect his name. Looking down, the man says his name is James McCord. The judge then asks McCord what he does for a living. And McCord replies that he's a security consultant who recently retired from government service. Staring him McCord, the judge asks for specifics. Where did he work in government? McCord mumbles. The judge orders him to speak up. And in a voice barely louder than a whisper. McCord replies that he was formally employed by the CIA. Out in the spectator seating area, Bob Woodward gasps and mutters a curse. The CIA. Those three letters change everything about this case. Because if McCord used to be part of the CIA, there's a possibility that the agency or other federal officials were involved in this burglary. That could point to something with huge implications. Maybe that's the reason high-powered attorneys have shown up in the courtroom. Woodward's heart begins to pound. As soon as the hearing wraps up, he rushes out into the busy streets of downtown and grabs a taxi. He has to get back to the Washington Post newsroom and start making calls. He doesn't yet know what any of this adds up to. But if his gut tells him anything, it's that he just landed. A big story. The next day, President Richard Nixon takes a seat in his sprawling waterfront compound in Keybiscane, Florida, a vacation home where Nixon comes to get away from everything. Earlier this morning, Nixon woke up feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the sunshine. That changed when he picked up a copy of the Miami Herald. There, on the front page, was a short article describing a break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Washington. Right away, Nixon felt uneasy. He wondered if this might somehow come back to hurt him. Nixon reminded himself that he's probably overreacting, getting worked up about nothing. There's still a lot that's unknown about the burglary. Still, Nixon isn't going to sit back and wait for the reporters to dig up dirt. He has to get ahead of the story. And that means calling staff members who might know more about the break-in. Nixon picks up a phone and dials his special counsel, Charles Coulson. Coulson speaking. Hello, Chuck. Mr. President, how are you, sir? I've been better. I picked up the newspaper and did not like what I saw. You're referring to the events at the Watergate? That's the one. Well, Mr. President, I didn't like what I saw either. I was going to call you to discuss this, but only at the appropriate time. Well, the appropriate time is right now. So give it to me straight. I mean, what's going on here? A bunch of men running around in surgical gloves trying to bug the DNC? What the hell is that? Some kind of prank? I'm afraid not, sir. Tell me that none of our people are that dumb. I need to hear that, Chuck. I need to hear that right now. Coulson lets out a sigh. And it's in that moment that Nixon realizes he has a serious problem. Sir, I'll have to get back to you on that. Now, you listen to me. I know we've deployed people on occasion to get things done for us, but this Watergate thing, I would never, never have approved anything like that. I know, and believe me, sir, we're getting our arms around this. Fine. If you have any updates, you come to me. You don't keep me in the dark, am I clear? Yes, sir. Entirely clear. Nixon hangs up with a sour taste in his mouth. He can already imagine the attacks he'll face if any of his men are implicated in the break-in. It'll be savage, and the timing couldn't be worse. The election is less than five months away. Nixon wishes he could get back to the Florida sunshine and enjoy himself. But he can't stay here dawdling by the seashore. It's time to get back to Washington. He needs to huddle with his top men, figure out how to keep this wild scheme from ruining his political future. It's June 19th, 1972 in Washington, D.C. The newsroom of the Washington Post is bustling with phones ringing and reporters shouting to each other across the room. It's not the easiest place to focus, but reporter Bob Woodward is trying to tune out the distractions and concentrate on the deluge of information coming out about the Watergate burglary. Especially with the incredible details that have just emerged. The Associated Press reported that James McCord, one of the burglars and the former agent for the CIA, was also the security coordinator for President Nixon's re-election committee. This connection doesn't directly implicate any high-level officials in government, but Woodward consents that somehow it's going to prove significant. And it's not the only detail that has Woodward looking at the White House. Last night he got a call from a post reporter who covers the D.C. police. That reporter said that police had recovered address books from two of the Watergate burglars. Inside was the name of Howard Hunt, next to Hunt's name with the notations, WH, and W. House, clear references to the White House. It was yet another stunning piece of information that tied the Nixon administration to the Watergate burglars, so Woodward dug deeper. He made some phone calls hoping to learn more about Howard Hunt, the name listed in the Burglers' address book. From these conversations, Woodward learned that Hunt himself was a consultant to the White House. This fact itself isn't enough to justify a story. He could even be grounds for a libel suit. But with all the connections emerging between the burglary and the White House, Woodward knows he can't stop now. He needs to keep assembling the puzzle pieces, and he needs to keep reporting so he can share the full picture with the American public. Woodward taps his pen against his notebook, trying to figure out next steps. It's then he remembers one of his sources. A contact in government he reaches out to from time to time. He's not the easiest source. Because while he is willing to discuss classified information, he's only willing to do so on the condition that remains off the record. The source also won't allow Woodward to share his identity with anyone else at the post, and he's made clear that he should be considered an option of last resort. But Woodward believes this is one of those times. So taking a deep breath, Woodward picks up the phone and dials his secret government contact. The man picks up his voice low and gravely, he asks why Woodward is calling. Woodward says he needs to talk about Watergate, and wants to know if there's any significant link to the White House. There's a long pause, and then the source says he will confirm that Howard Hunt, consultant to the White House, is a prime suspect in connection with the burglary. The FBI is looking at him closely, and not just because his name was in the address books of the burglars. Woodward's eye is light up. He's about to ask for more information when his source reminds him that this is all off the record. Then he hangs up. Woodward sets down his phone, his heart beating fast. He just confirmed that a White House associate is under investigation in connection with the Watergate Breakin. That information is enough to justify a story. Woodward feeds a sheet of paper into his typewriter, begins pounding out the headline and opening paragraphs. The first few sentences are clunky, but Woodward knows they'll get smoothed out. He can rely on the other reporter who's going to be working alongside him as a partner. Carl Bernstein is a great writer and editor, and he'll help reshape the article till it's ready for the front page. As Woodward pounds away at the typewriter, he gets the intoxicating feeling of forward movement and momentum. He has no doubt that he and Bernstein are going to have many front page stories in the weeks to come. There's so much to learn about this Watergate Breakin, Woodward can feel it in his gut. And if the story keeps progressing the way it already has, it's going to quickly turn from a small scale burglary to a serious political scandal. Hello, I'm Florence Given, the best selling author of the book, Women Don't Are You Pretty and Girlcrush, and this is my podcast, exactly. Join me as I connect with fascinating guests from authors, cultural commentators, doctors, thought leaders to psychologists, celebrities and comedians. And guess what? We're back to do it all again in season two with the likes of the holistic psychologist, Victoria Skohn and Iona David to name a few. Season two of exactly podcast out now wherever you get your podcasts. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y 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 Y 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 Y podcast on Amazon Music or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad-free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. It's June 21st, 1972 in Washington, D.C., a vicious storm lashes the nation's capital, and President Richard Nixon is sitting in the Oval Office watching the rain pelth the windows. There's a knock on the door, and Nixon turns to find his chief of staff, HR Hall-Domin. With his navy blue suit and short-cropped hair, Hall-Domin normally gives off an air of control and stability, but today he looks unsettled. Not to be only one thing, this is going to be yet another brutal meeting. Days ago, Hall-Domin confirmed the president's worst fears. He revealed that Nixon's operatives were responsible for the break-in at the Watergate, and the five burglarers who were caught weren't the only ones involved. Two White House operatives, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon-Liddy, also took part, planning the break-in. The implications were immediately apparent to the president. Nixon realized that the break-in could be traced back to the White House, and if that happens, his entire administration will be subject to scrutiny. It could be a Pandora's box, revealing any number of White House secrets that should never see the light of day. And the threat is not just hypothetical. FBI investigators are already prying into the Watergate burglary. They're getting too close for comfort, and if federal agents uncover the full truth, Nixon's administration could suffer major legal consequences, not to mention the public fallout, which could cause Nixon and the Republicans the upcoming election. Nixon has to find a way through this mess to protect himself and his allies. So sitting across from his chief of staff, Nixon asks Holloman for updates on the situation, as well as any potential solutions he's identified. Holloman clears his throat and tells the president that he's been discussing the situation with John Erlichman, the president's assistant for domestic affairs. They agree that the most pressing issue is the FBI's investigation. They can't allow federal agents to follow the evidence any further, because Nixon could suffer the consequences. With a grim expression, Nixon nods. It's clear that his chief of staff is just as worried as he is. But Holloman says that he and the president's assistant have a plan. A simple one. Pin all the responsibility for the burglary on G. Gordon-Liddy, the general counsel for Nixon's reelection committee. Nixon raises a eyebrow. He asks how a single scapegoat could possibly fix the entire situation. Holloman reminds the president that Liddy is, in fact, the person most responsible for the break-in. The administration can use this fact to their advantage. They can say that Liddy was a rogue agent, a mass reminder of an operation that he kept secret from all his bosses. And the best part, Holloman adds, is that Liddy is doggedly loyal. He'll cooperate with the cover story, and he'll plead guilty. That'll put a stop to the FBI's investigation. There won't be a trial, and it'll bring a quick end to a civil lawsuit recently filed by the DNC. Then Holloman leans forward on the couch. He says all he needs now is Nixon's authorization to move forward with the plan. Nixon looks out again at the pouring rain, as he mulls the options in front of him. The solution does sound elegant, and one that could work. But Nixon has a concern. He wants to know if this cover story will protect John Mitchell, the former attorney general, and the man currently running his re-election campaign. Mitchell is an old friend, and Nixon can't allow him to become collateral damage. Holloman tells the president that he's nearly certain Mitchell would be safe if they make Liddy the fall guy, but he can't offer a complete guarantee. It's a difficult possibility for Nixon to absorb. He knows he has to prioritize his own survival, and this sounds like a good plan. At least on a strategic level. But it's hard to believe he might have to sacrifice a long time friend like Mitchell. Beyond any personal betrayal, the plan is still fraught with peril. If Nixon gives the go ahead from this moment forward, he'll be complicit in a cover-up. This kind of conspiracy is no small proposition, and Nixon needs a few moments to make up his mind. Thunder peels out like a gunshot from somewhere in the distance. And finally, Nixon looks back as his chief of staff. He's made a decision. The White House has to remain insulated from Watergate. Holloman should move forward with the plan, pidden a blame on G-Gordon Liddy, and put an end to this fiasco. But then Nixon says there's one more thing. They also have to get control of the FBI. Someone has to visit the FBI's acting director and get assurances that he'll play ball. Holloman nods and says he can get someone to handle that mission. And he rises and exits the Oval Office. Alone, Nixon loosens the collar of his shirt. Once again, he's been forced to make the best choice among a series of bad options. It's the nature of the job. In Hill have plenty more hard choices ahead of him if he wins reelection. So there's no time to get wrapped up in any moral debates. Because right now only one thing matters. Nixon has to protect himself and his administration, doing whatever it takes to put Watergate behind them. Later that day, White House counsel John Dean steps into FBI headquarters in Washington. As one of the top lawyers for the president, Dean is no stranger to conflict or high-stakes situations. But the mission today has left him feeling especially nervous. In just a few minutes, Dean is going to sit down with El Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI. Dean is supposed to ask Gray to pledge his loyalty to Richard Nixon and have the FBI bend the rules on behalf of the president. Dean rounds a corner as he nears the office of the acting FBI director. He feels ill, physically uncomfortable. He never thought something like this would be part of his job as counsel to the president. But while Dean is a true believer in President Nixon, he wants to see the president win the upcoming election. This mission feels compromised. It even feels dirty. Dean reaches the office of El Patrick Gray and knocks on the door. Dean steps into the office and finds the acting FBI director behind his desk. His face is pale and looks like he's been sweating. Dean knows that he's only had this job for a month. Maybe he's feeling overwhelmed. That might work to the president's advantage. Dean closes the door and takes a seat. Patrick, thanks for seeing me on such short notice. Well, it's no problem. If the president needs something, I'm always here. I'm glad to hear you say that. It's good to know we're on the same team. Of course, but what can I do for you? Well, I'll be candid. I need you to get control over this watergate investigation. Watergate? What's the issue? Well, the issue is the president is worried. He thinks this break-in could wind up being a distraction for the American people. It's coming at a time when they should be thinking about the election. That might be, but we are just doing our job like we always do. Oh, let me be clear. I'm not saying the FBI shouldn't investigate the burglary. We just want to make sure you're investigating it the right way. The right way? Yes, the right way. If you and your agents get any leads in the case, hold on to them for the timing. Don't share them with any lawyers prosecuting burglars. That'll just make the distraction worse. Gray shifts in his seat. Dean can tell that this request made the FBI's leader uncomfortable. But Dean has orders and can't back down. I am Patrick. There's another thing. No more re-interviews of White House staff. Put a hold on that, too, until further notice. Well, I hear you, but... But understand, I also have to consider the FBI's reputation. I don't want to do anything that could turn out to be an embarrassment to the Bureau. I don't want to do anything illegal. You wouldn't be. But you would be acting in the interest of the country. Are we on the same page? Gray, not. Good. Now I'm going to get back to the White House. But I'm going to tell the president that he can count on you. Dean exits the office and steps back into the hallway. But as he makes his way out of the FBI headquarters, he suddenly feels very exhausted. He stops and takes a moment to breathe and compose himself. Dean knows he was just following orders. He was only trying to help the president. Still, it does not feel right. And Dean has the sinking feeling that this troubling conversation was only the first of many more to come. It's June 23rd, 1972, two days later, inside the Oval Office. Richard Nixon paces in circles scowling as he takes in the latest in a string of terrible news. Sitting across from him, Nixon's chief of staff, HR Hallerman, is explaining how the White House has failed to control the FBI. The Bureau's acting director, El Patrick Gray, promised to follow orders. He assured the White House that he'd place limits on the investigation into Watergate. But those assurances have already proven to be hollow. Federal agents have just uncovered the money trail, connecting Watergate and the president's reelection committee. That means any attempt to pin the blame on G Gordon Litty will fall flat. Nixon shakes his head in disbelief. Litty was at the center of their plan. He was supposed to be the fall guy, the one who would take all the blame and protect the administration. But with this new FBI discovery, that plan's off the table. Nixon continues pacing the Oval Office, furious. With this failure, his political future is once again on the line and he can't see a way to remedy it. The FBI is going to keep digging. And soon they'll discover how senior members of Nixon's reelection committee were responsible for the burglary. It's a disaster. Nixon's chief of staff takes a deep breath and says there is a plan B. It comes from John Mitchell, the head of the reelection committee. Nixon's close confidant. Nixon stops pacing. He trusts Mitchell. And if his longtime friend has an idea, it's worth pursuing. So Halldemann explains the details. They'll get in contact with the CIA and ask for a favor. That agency's deputy director will need to speak with Patrick Gray, the head of the FBI. He'll imply that the FBI needs to call off its investigation of Watergate that there are highly classified details relevant to the CIA, which need to remain secret. That kind of warning is likely to stop the FBI's investigation in its tracks. Nixon gazes at his chief of staff as he thinks over this new plan. It does make sense. It's not pretty. It's not clean. So it seems like a way forward. So Nixon nods and tells Halldemann get moving with a new plan. They'll bring in the CIA. And with the help of that agency, they'll shut down any investigation into Watergate. It's the evening of September 14, 1972. Carl Bernstein walks down a tree-lined street in a suburban neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The night is getting late, Bernstein is making his way past a series of middle-class homes, cars in the driveways and TVs lighting up the living rooms. Soon, Bernstein reaches a track house. He glances down at his notebook, double checking the address. This is the home he's been looking for. Bernstein tucks away the notebook. Then he begins walking up the driveway, approaching the front door, and preparing for a conversation that could turn volatile. Bernstein is hoping it won't come to that, and that this meeting will prove to be a big break. A 28-year-old is an investigative journalist with a Washington Post. He covers major stories involving corruption. And recently, nothing's been a bigger story than the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Bernstein has been teaming up with Bob Woodward, another reporter at the post, and together the two have been feverishly covering the twists and turns of the burglary. They've written about John Mitchell's surprise resignation as the head of the president's re-election committee. They reported on another sensational arrest with law enforcement booking eHoward Hunt and G Gordon Litty, the suspected leaders of the team of burglars. And then just days ago, Bernstein made a new and exciting discovery. He learned from a source about a strange back and forth involving the FBI and a bookkeeper from Nixon's re-election committee. Apparently, the bookkeeper was questioned by federal agents investigating Watergate. But the bookkeeper wasn't satisfied with her interrogation. She thought the agents didn't ask her hard enough questions. So she went back to the FBI and volunteered to be questioned a second time. Apparently, she sincerely wanted to help the bureau and expose corruption inside the president's re-election committee. It's an incredible lead for a story, and it's why Bernstein is approaching this suburban house right now. He's going to surprise the bookkeeper with a visit. And if she's willing to open up, Bernstein and Woodward have another piece on the front page. The woman opening the door has a weary look on her face. Someone else, you must be here for my sister. Come on in. Bernstein nods and follows her into a living room. A moment later, a young woman with brown hair and glasses emerges from the kitchen. This must be the bookkeeper. Good evening, ma'am. My name's Carl Bernstein. I'm a reporter. Oh my god, you're from the Washington Post. That's right. The newspaper. Yes, ma'am. You'll have to go, I'm sorry, but it's late. Now it's not the time. Well, I promise I'll be fast. I only need a couple of minutes. No, I'm sorry. I can't. I can't talk with you. You can't talk? Or you don't feel comfortable talking? The bookkeeper sighs as she looks off into the distance. Ma'am, look, I need your help. And I think you want to help. That's why you went back to the FBI, right? That's why you asked for a second interview. Maybe you don't trust them. Maybe you don't think they've got the right intentions. But I promise you, I'm only concerned with one thing that's getting to the truth. The truth. Where do you reporters get your information anyhow? That's what nobody at the committee can figure out. It's my job to know things. Well, somebody is certainly giving you good information if you knew I went back to the prosecutors. But if you wouldn't mind, can you tell me more? Look, I counted the money at the reelection to me. My boss, Mr. Stans, he kept a bunch of cash in the safe. It was a lot. That would be Marie Stans, CRP Finance Chairman. Yeah, that's right. And at first, I thought, all this cash must be some kind of all-purpose political fund. Like to take people out to dinner. But that's not what it was. Some kind of slush fund, huh? Secret? Yeah, it was secret. I saw who got the money, though. And then after Watergate, I realized they must have used that cash to fund the bugging operation. And who were they? Who got the money? They were the top officials. The same people working alongside John Mitchell. But I can't give you names. What about initials? Give me their initials, and you can truthfully say that you never name to names. The bookkeeper hesitates for a moment. L, an M, and P. And that's all I'm going to give you. It's time for you to go. Bernstein is vibrating with excitement. He wants to ask for more. But he can see that he's already outstayed as welcome. So he nods, and the bookkeeper leads him to the door. As he hurries down the walkway, Bernstein feels his heart is about to leap into his throat. He's just confirmed that the president's reelection committee played a role in funding the Watergate break-in, a burglary that appears to have targeted their political opponents. And with the bookkeeper's clues, he now knows the names of two people who receive the money. G Gordon Litty, the council for the reelection committee, and Jed McGruder, the committee's deputy director. It's a huge development. And so on his way back to Washington, Bernstein stops at a payphone. He wants to tell Woodward everything he just learned from the bookkeeper. But after Woodward picks up the phone, reality begins to sink in. The two reporters are now in dangerous territory. They need to be more careful. So Bernstein decides not to say everything over the phone. Instead, he tells Woodward that he's coming over so they can talk in person. He learns something big, and they may be one step closer to identifying the top officials behind Watergate. Two days later, Bob Woodward picks up his phone in the Washington Post newsroom. He's getting ready to make a call, one that should allow him and Carl Bernstein to publish a shocking story. It's coming on the heels of a troubling announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice. Yesterday, the DOJ charged the five Watergate burglars with federal crimes. Prosecutors also charged the two supposed architects of the burglary, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon-Liddy. President Nixon's attorney general made clear that the indictments were the result of a thorough and objective investigation. But there weren't any more charges. And that left Woodward and Bernstein in shock. After speaking with the bookkeeper from the President's Re-election Committee, Bernstein learned that higher up officials working to re-elect the president were responsible for the burglary. Those men should have been charged, but they weren't, and the two reporters were outraged. They were all but ready to publish their story about the bookkeeper and her meetings with the FBI, but first Woodward knew he had to do his due diligence. He had to speak with his secretive source inside the government, someone who can confirm that they're reporting his accurate. So Woodward dials his phone and cradles the handset against his ear. Phone rings and keeps ringing. Woodward is about to hang up when suddenly he hears the gravely voice of his confidential government contact. Man who Woodward and his new editor now call deep throat. The nickname is a bit of wordplay. The source won't let himself be identified or quoted in print even anonymously. He'll only confirm information that Woodward has acquired elsewhere. Reporters refer to these kind of conversations as taking place on deep background. Woodward's managing editors spun that into the nickname Deep Throat, also a play on the title of a recent adult film. Ever since, Woodward, Bernstein and their editors have used the nickname for the source. So now, having him on the phone, Woodward launches into a conversation with Deep Throat, saying that he and Bernstein are writing an article about a secret slush fund at the president's re-election committee. They got the information from a bookkeeper. Woodward continues explaining the gist of their upcoming article. They'll claim that Nixon campaign workers spoke to federal investigators looking into Watergate, and these campaign employees made a big accusation that the Watergate Berglers received financial backing from top officials in Nixon's re-election committee. Woodward then picks up a draft of the story and begins reading it out loud to Deep Throat. When he finishes, he waits for his source to respond and confirm whether the story is accurate. Right away, Deep Throat offers a stinging assessment. But it's not about accuracy. Deep Throat says the story is too soft. Woodward and Bernstein can hit the re-election campaign much harder. Woodward sits up excited. He'd love to be more aggressive, but he wants to know what Deep Throat has in mind. Deep Throat says they're thinking too narrowly. Watergate wasn't the only espionage operation funded by Nixon's re-election committee. And there were more people approving payments than just the associates of John Mitchell, former attorney general, and the former head of the committee. All of this runs much deeper. Woodward scribbles down notes his heart beating quickly. This is a huge break. If Deep Throat is right, this is a much bigger story than they could ever have imagined. Woodward pauses to thank his source for the help. Then he asks if there's anything else he can reveal. Deep Throat pauses, before admitting that there is more. He doesn't want to continue talking over the phone though. Woodward and Bernstein are entering dangerous territory. From now on, they should only meet in person. Woodward tenses up. He asks Deep Throat what he means. How are they in dangerous territory? Deep Throat responds that Watergate involves enormous stakes for the White House, much bigger than anyone on the outside realizes. Their investigation poses a real threat to people in power. People who want to stay in power. And with that, Woodward hears a click. And the phone line goes dead. For a moment, Woodward sits completely still, as hand trembling. He's doing his job as a journalist, a profession that's protected by the United States Constitution. And yet it's clear that someone in the Nixon administration does not want him and Bernstein to pursue the story. Watergate must run very deep. It must involve senior members of Nixon administration, maybe even the president of the United States himself. From Wondry, this is Episode 2 of Watergate from America's Guild. In our next episode, President Nixon doubles down in his attempt to control the FBI and taking aim at the White House. Woodward and Bernstein make a costly mistake. 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. You can follow on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now, or you can listen to new episodes early and add free by subscribing to Wondry Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondry app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support this show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come 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 Watergate by Fred Emory and all the presidents men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham, for airship. On you editing by Molly Bach, sound assigned by Derek Barons, music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal DS, edited by Christina Malsberger. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven. Execute producers are Stephanie Chenz, Jenny Lauer Beppman, and Marshall Louis for Wondry.