I covered this last week, but the White House coverup of Watergate was about ending a story that the Nixon White House thought could explode in their faces. Which was an attempted burglary of Democratic National Headquarters. Even though the President, Vice President or White House Chief of Staff weren’t directly involved in the operation. But they were worried that this story would play in the media as if the Nixon Campaign in 1972 was involved in the Watergate burglary. When what they should’ve done was to say, “here’s this local Washington burglary of Democratic National Headquarters, lets let the Washington Police handle it. Because we’re not involved.”
Had Richard Nixon had a sounder more sober mind, not as far as intelligence, because he was really a brilliant man and perhaps the smartest president we’ve ever had, but a more sober mind in the sense that he could see things for what they are and act accordingly, he would’ve said, “Watergate is not our problem. And even if some of our people on the campaign are involved in it, the police will find those people and act accordingly.” Now President Nixon didn’t know that his own Attorney General John Mitchell was involved in Watergate. And I and others believed he ordered the operation when he was running the reelection campaign. But again the police would’ve figured that out and the President would’ve fired him.
But that is not what President Nixon and his White House team did. They played it like they were ones who not only knew about the Watergate operation, but ordered it. They acted as if they were the criminals in this story and because of their behavior they became the criminals and defendants in this story. All of the career lawyers and some of them former prosecutors who became defendants in this case and did time in prison. Like John Erlichman, John Dean, Chuck Colson and perhaps some others. Instead of just letting the story play to its natural conclusion and moving on with the business of the country.