Who approved Liddy’s campaign intelligence plan, Mitchell or Magruder?

June 16, 2015
  • It is clear Liddy’s plan was not approved in the January and February meetings in Mitchell’s office when he was still Attorney General. The issue is whether he approved it at the March meeting in Miami, when Magruder brought it up for a third time.
  • Magruder swore he did. Both Mitchell and LaRue swore he didn’t.
  • Arguments favoring Mitchell’s position:
    • Magruder feared physical harm from Liddy, who had already incurred substantial expenses in anticipation of the plan’s approval.
    • Magruder paid Liddy some $36,000 before going to the Miami meeting.
    • Magruder never used Mitchell’s actual name in conveying the plan’s approval to his colleagues.
    • Mitchell refused to help raise support money for the defendants.
    • Apart from the one meeting in his apartment the week following the break-in arrests, he does not seem to have been involved at all in the cover-up.
    • Mitchell devoted about half his trial defense to contesting the idea that he had approved Liddy’s plan.
  • Arguments against Mitchell’s position
    • It does not seem reasonable that anyone else had the authority to approve the Liddy plan.
    • Stans double checked with Mitchell on Liddy’s large cash withdrawal request and Mitchell did not object. His response, however, is ambiguous: He told Stans that Magruder was responsible for approving financial disbursements.
    • The tapes suggest that Haldeman urged Mitchell to resign as head of CRP to avoid future questions.
    • Almost all White House officials, including Nixon’s defense team, just assumed Mitchell was responsible.
  • Additional Arguments Suggesting it was Magruder:
    • Magruder had gotten the phone call from Colson, urging he make better use of Liddy and Hunt.
    • When Magruder tried to fire Liddy for threatening his life, he was told that Liddy’s role was too important to lose him.
    • Haldeman’s infamous tickler system kept reminding him that a campaign intelligence plan had been promised.
    • Faced with these indicators, he may well have concluded the White House wanted Liddy’s plan approved with or without Mitchell’s involvement.
  • It is possible that Mitchell assumed the Liddy plan was a White House initiative, particularly because everyone involved (Liddy, Hunt, Magruder and Dean) all came from the White House, and that the less he knew about it the better.
  • At this point, however, we will never really know for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *