Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Rick Perlstein; Richard Nixon | Go to book overview

27.
“There can be no whitewash at the
White House” (April 30, 1973)

Nixon spoke on the unfolding Watergate scandal as in-
frequently as possible. That made this nationally tele-
vised address hardly three months after his triumphant
second inauguration especially dramatic. It was an at-
tempt to contain the scandal by firing his two closest
White House aides, Bob Haldeman and John Ehr-
lichman, and appointing a new attorney general with
the charge of “uncovering the whole truth” about Wa-
tergate. Politically, the scapegoating move helped;
House minority leader Gerald Ford announced after-
ward, “I am absolutely positive he had nothing to do
with this mess.” But some Democratic politicians, not-
ing that the president's extraordinary closeness to these
two aides rendered this notion unlikely, began calling
for impeachment proceedings. As well, a lesser-noticed
portion of the speech—the firing of staff council John
Dean, whom Nixon had publicly given the role of in-
vestigating the scandal, with the private role of helping
cover it up—portended a dire outcome for Nixon:
Dean's sworn testimony three months later relating, in
great detail, Nixon's active involvement with “this
mess.” The speech below was full of outright fabrica-
tions—such as Nixon's claim that he had delegated

-242-

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