Richard Gill Discusses the House Committee on the Judiciary Impeachent Inquiry, Part 2

Richard Gill Discusses the House Committee on the Judiciary Impeachent Inquiry, Part 2


bjbj Naftali: Dick, we were talking about
Gordon Liddy, and you also had occasion to interview Bud Krogh. Gill: Yeah, I did. Krogh,
as you know, was sort of second in command of the Plumbers unit, and he was my recollection
is in Allenwood, Pennsylvania prison, and we made arrangement with the bureau of prisons
again, I think it s required, John s intervention, to have Bud, or Egil Krogh was his name brought
to us, and I wanted to get his cooperation. So I asked them if they could have his wife
there, and they did arrange that, and we met at a facility, I think in Baltimore or somewhere,
and he was brought down, and of all things, he was in shackles. They had leg irons and
wrist manacles, and I thought, This is not the way to get his cooperation. So we asked
them to please un- they didn t want to. They wanted me to interview him in irons, so to
speak. But anyway, they did, and Krogh was an interesting fellow, because I think I described
him as a boy scout. He really was a true believer that anything he was asked to do by the President
was almost by definition proper and in the best interest to the country. But once this
all blew up, he took on this sort of guilt complex, and blamed himself for not stopping
it, not seeing the direction that the Plumbers were going, the break-ins they were conducting
couldn t possibly be legal, and so on, and that he should have recognized that, and put
an end to it. I think that s an unfair guilt load, but of course, we were interested in
whether or not he received instructions from the President, so that the link was there.
And he never got direction from President Nixon, Go break in something. Go do wire taps.
He just didn t get that kind of instruction. I think it was obvious from what he told us
that in some of his and he only had a few conversations with the President that the
President knew at least wiretapping was going on. I don t know that he knew about the break-ins
or when he knew, but Krogh, when he finished his sentence, I know that he applied for readmission
to the California bar, and several of us on the staff asked John Doar if it was okay for
us to write kind of letters of recommendation, because I do think he s sort of a clean-cut
character, and if anybody in the world would never go astray again, would be way on the
other side of the line, it would be him. But it was an interesting experience. He did get
a little bit of time with his wife, so maybe that gave us some goodwill. Naftali: How difficult
was it for you to determine Presidential involvement in the Plumbers? Gill: Well, some of it was
inferential. Some of it you could tell from the tapes once you heard them was that because
the President commented to Dean and to others on the tapes about activities that the Plumbers
had been doing, that he knew about it. Some instances of course, it ran through John Mitchell,
that is, the Plumbers activities and others, collateral figures, like Dr. Kissinger whose
signature or initials are on the authorizations or I say that. There s a set of authorizations
from Hoover for these wiretaps, and they recite that Dr. Kissinger called and asked me to
do this, and then he puts his sort of had a funny little scribble that was his mark.
And obviously Mitchell and Kissinger were at the very highest level of the Nixon administration,
so I don t think Dr. Kissinger was interested in the political side of it at all. I mean,
that is the wiretaps degenerated into that. He was interested in what he viewed as national
security leaks, and that was the original cover for the wiretaps, but they certainly
expanded into something quite different. But it s clear from the tapes and the testimony
of others that the President knew about that, and he was receiving reports through Haldeman
and the others about what the wiretaps were generating. So but to say that you could find
a direct order from the President, Go break in somewhere, there never was that. You couldn
t find that. Naftali: You mentioned that Dick Cates has this uncanny ability to predict
what the tapes would say. Was that because you and he were developing a theory of Presidential
responsibility? Gill: No, the query was whether or not there was Presidential responsibility.
But Dick was able to say, from both his skills and his experience, that, Look, if the parties
here on tape number one are discussing this or doing that, and over here, this event occurs,
there has to be a connecting set of events, and you could I don t know whether it s inductive
or deductive reasoning, you could say necessarily this had to have happened in-between. And
it did; it turned up on the other tapes that we got later. So that s the process. But it
certainly was not with a preconception, but that was our charge, was what was the President
s involvement? So we had to make the query, is Kennedy to be found or inferred? Naftali:
How did you come to the conclusion that the Segretti story was a side-show and irrelevant?
Gill: Well, we actually interviewed Segretti, and he was almost a college prankster. He
did things like ordering hundreds of dollars worth of pizzas delivered to the Republican
headquarter I mean, to the Democratic headquarters and charging them so they spend money and
be confused. It was really silly stuff at the end of the day. We never found anything
of consequence, frankly, in his activities. I don t want to say he was a prankster. It
was a little more than that, but it just didn t have the gravity, and certainly not the
Presidential level involvement that other things did. Naftali: Did you interview Charles
Colson? Gill: We did. Dick Cates and I interviewed Colson twice I think. Maybe have been three
times, but I have to tell you and I probably, in the public eye, this is a minority view
I guess we concluded that what Mr. Colson was doing was a kind of a scam. He was a very
high-ranking official of course. He was publically known to be high in administration, and he
had made an announcement that he had decided to tell all, to unburden his soul, so-to-speak,
and we concluded what he told us in the interviews were not matter of consequence. And we concluded
that it was deliberate. That by saying, m going to tell all, and I had the ear of the
President, it all doesn t amount to much. It infers that there wasn t much there. And
so we actually recommended at the end of these to the committee that he not be called as
a witness, because we didn t think his testimony was going to be truthful, and we thought it
was deliberately misleading in the sense that I described. But the political pressures were
terrific. The committee wanted to not only get a full picture, but certainly to be seen
to be getting a full picture, and if you don t call the highest ranking official in the
administration who has said, m going to tell all, and you don t even hear from him, it
doesn t look as if you re getting the full picture, or even interested in it. It looked
slanted. So he was called as a witness, and I remember Congressman Huntgate got a break
after Mr. Colson had testified for the morning, or some period of time, behind the committee
chamber there, there was a break room there where you could get coffee and things, and
he turned to me, and he said, Well, you and Cates told us about this. I understand though
that Mr. Colson says he s found the Lord. He said, After all that testimony in there,
under oath, that he s given, he better hope the Lord doesn t find him. So I don t think
Mr. Colson s testimony to the committee ended up accomplishing what he hoped that it would,
and I think it was an effort to exonerate the President through this appearance that
I ve told all, and all is not of an impeachable quality. But he did testify, and I don t think
the committee believed him. Naftali: What was it that gave you a sense that he was trying
to scam? Gill: s a long time. More than 30 years ago. Partly it s you observed it. And
the pieces didn t fit together. They didn t fit with some of the information that was
on tapes, they didn t fit with some of the memos and things that were in possession of
the committee. It didn the story wouldn t hold together under careful cross-examination,
which is what a trial lawyer does, and so you had to ask yourself, What is he not telling,
and why? And so that was the conclusion we reached from it. And I suspect I guess he
s still alive I suspect that he would adamantly disagree with that. Naftali: It was always
interesting, wasn t it, that he found the money for the break-in? Gill: Yeah. And the
money for – I don’t know if it was him alone, but the money for the lawyers for those people.
And of course, this is the sort of thing Dick Cates and I went to interview the lawyer for
Naftali: Bittman? Did you interview Bittman? Gill: Yes, we did. Naftali: The lawyer for
Hunt? Gill: Right. And he had plead he had agreed to plead Hunt guilty to all the charges,
and I think he got the maximum sentence, and Dick asked him, he said, You know, and he
was paid three hundred thousand dollars and he said, Mr. Bittman, let me see if I get
this right. Your paid three hundred thousand dollars to plead your client guilty on all
charges, and get sentenced to the maximum. He says, What did you do for three hundred
thousand dollars? He said, I could have done that for three hundred dollars. And so it
was pretty clearly a funnel for the money, as it turned out after everything else has
become known. Naftali: But Mr. Bittman didn t say it was a front. Gill: No, he did not.
He did not. Naftali: Tell us about what role, if any, you played in deciding how this information
would be made available to the committee? Gill: Well, I didn t play any role on that.
John Doar s code, if you will, was we re not going to make any statement of something as
being a fact unless we can document from sworn testimony or documents that it is a fact.
If it is an inference from facts, it s got to be clearly identified as such. And so he
wanted s the one who and I say he; he may have consulted with Bob Fisk and others, you
know, I mean Owen Fiss Robert Fisk who is dead now, but about the structure to call
these Statements of Information, and if you look at them, there is just that. It s a statement
of what we believed to be a fact, and then underneath it is the source, or sources, and
either testimony of somebody document of this, recording of that so I didn t have any role
in that. We were told to structure and write our reports in that format, and it was a way
to test whether what we thought were the facts. Alright, where can you prove it? Naftali:
How much time did it take you to prepare your volumes, because your work is covered in at
least one volume that I recall. Gill: I think it s two, but I don t know. I ve got that
set of those great books. I can t tell you that. I mean, it s not that I won t tell you
that, I just it was an ongoing process, because we were told to do that, and facts came in,
you had to go back and plug them in so that the story made sense, the Statements of Information
were a story as well chronologically and connectively put together all the facts about a given thing,
and for example, the wiretaps. You start with the question of how were the wiretaps authorized?
And then what did they who did they wiretap, what did they get when they wiretapped them,
how did they collate that, because only small bits of the wiretap materials went upstream
to Haldeman and to the President. They culled out a lot of it that was not deemed relevant
to why they were wiretapping. I mean, that s one of the ways that you could tell why,
was the selection process. It was a if there was four pages of a conversation, and they
only reported a paragraph s worth, then the rest of it wasn t what they were interested
in, and so you could pick out the pattern of why they were doing it. So all that was
told in a story, and with the supporting materials, and other aspects of it, which told but it
had to be able to be read through and make sense, and so that was always an on-going
thing. You were writing it and filling in the supporting materials for over a period
of weeks and months really until the process ended. Naftali: When did you start feeling
comfortable that you were getting did you get a sense that the puzzle was coming together,
or the picture was getting clearer for you? Gill: I know I went home and the only time
I went back to Montgomery during this was at Easter, and I think Easter was in April
that year, early April as opposed to March, and I went to see Judge Johnson who wanted
to see how it was going, and he had been, after all, the pathway as to why I was there,
and talked to him about it, and it was clear that we had gotten the first group of tapes,
and those of course we had to listen to, and I forget, there was six or seven of us that
were authorized to actually hear them, and we had a close room that was soundproof that
you couldn t have somebody who was across the street with a mic pick up, and you had
to listen to them through a headset, so it wasn t broadcast in the room in general. And
there was a lot of elaborate rigmarole. But those certainly confirmed much of what the
written materials had suggested, and it certainly gave a tone that is so clear in there, and
reading the tapes is pretty shocking in some ways, but hearing them is more so. And but
I know by Easter I reported to Judge Johnson that I thought the President was in trouble.
And I had no idea what the Congress that wasn t my level. We got to know and we did this
there s an incident when we get to it about Hamilton Fish who was one of the members but
I think certainly by mid-April we were pretty clear where it was going. Now, there were
things being thrown overboard that we never had any charges associated with Segretti.
In reflection, the Cambodian bombing business shouldn t have been in there. It probably
had political overtones. It just didn t seem to us. At the end of the day, it was included,
but it was not adopted as one of the arguments. That was one of Bob Sack s categories, so
we like to kid him that some of his didn t get the same vote. But I think that s accurate.
Because we started presenting the materials by the end of May, June is my recollection.
Naftali: Beginning May 9th, actually. Gill: Okay. Naftali: The tapes that you were listening
to had been brought over by the White House Special Prosecution Force, they d been given
to you by them? Gill: That s right. Naftali: So you started listening to them in early
April? Gill: That s right. Naftali: Before the White House issued its transcripts? Gill:
s the Dirty Blue Book as it s called. Naftali: So you had this experience not you necessarily
personally, but at least the staff having listened to these tapes, and then having the
White House issue its own version of the transcripts of the same tapes you d been listening to.
Gill: That s right. And it s funny, the Supreme Court decision and I can t date it; I m sorry,
I should be able to Naftali: July 24th. Gill: But we Bob Sack and I were dispatched to the
Supreme Court as the representatives of the Congress to hear the Supreme Court deliver
that opinion, and it s got to be one of the most peculiar days in history. I mean, very
solemn occasion in the court, and we didn t have anything to say, but he and I had both
been admitted to practice before the court, so we were entitled to sit inside the rails,
so-to-speak, as representatives of Congress. And we they had a little gold eagle that we
wore on lapels that gave us access. It was sort of a pass key to ask government officials
things. And when we came out after hearing it, and listening to the rationale of the
court, there were all these demonstrators out in front of the Supreme Court building,
both pro and against the President. Some of them had on those masks of the President.
A lot of them had signs and they were marching around about, Impeach the President, and Pro-Nixon,
chanting. And we didn t want the crowd to know who we were. They wouldn t have recognized
either of us, of course in any way, unless they realized we had on so we kind of hid
those, and the committee may have started the vote or the committee statements from
the representatives that night, because there was a threat of a kamikaze plane coming this
is of course long before 2011 was going to crash into the capitol, and it was a rumor;
I don t know where it came from, but there was a lot of alarm about it, and there were
questions, should they hold the session? Because they were held in the evenings. And then I
think a number of very profound things were said by a number of the Congressmen. They
didn t all speak that same night. I mean, it went on over more than one evening. But
that all occurred in a single session, and it s just an astonishing piece of history
to have been there. Naftali: Well, you said there was a threat that was reported? Gill:
There was, that someone and they called it a kamikaze, a plane was going to crash into
the Capitol, and I don t know anything about the source of the threat. Obviously there
was enough credibility about it, there was a lot of buzz and running around, questions
about whether we ought to adjourn the session, that sort of thing. It didn t turn out to
amount to anything. Naftali: Tell us about the subpoenas. You were going to tell us a
story about the issue of whether you should I guess whether you should issue subpoenas.
Gill: That s right. And a number of members of the committee and of course you have to
understand the partisan politics were ongoing. There were some members of the Republican
minority who we felt that it had been put on there for the purpose of being true partisans.
It didn t matter what the facts. They were the President s men on the committee, there
were a couple of them. Didn t want subpoenas issued. The subpoena process was cumbersome.
If a person disobeyed a Congressional subpoena, the enforcement was cumbersome. It wasn t
as if there were court proceedings readily available and a judge could snatch them in
and cite them for contempt. You had to go through a process of contempt of Congress.
So it was an awkward process. I know it came up in connection with getting the wiretap
materials, that is the actual transcripts. Justice Department, FBI did not want to turn
them over. They professed to have concerns that they were an invasion of privacy of the
people who were wiretapped, and we said, Well, it s a little late to be thinking about that.
It wasn t an invasion when you did it, as opposed to us getting it. And we said, Well,
we can subpoena them. They said, Well, that will take you weeks to sort that out. And
so finally John Doar asked me to go with him, because I was the one that at least knew what
we were asking for, and the details, so we went down and met with an Assistant I don
t know what his title was in the Justice department, but I think he s now a Federal Judge, Silverman,
and he was a friend of Doar s, they had been colleagues and John said to him, said, You
know, this is you ve got to consider what this is. We re not the criminal courts. This
s a solemn constitutional proceeding, and we need this. They didn t want to do it, and
finally I remember John saying, Well, you know, if you read the Constitution, the articles
of impeachment can be brought against any Federal official, any person holding public
office. And he says, Representative Drayman, who was one of the leading Democratic firebrands
on the committee, he said, s got impeachment resolutions made out in blank, and you re
libel to be the next one if you won t cooperate. And so they ruminated and decided to give
them to us on the condition that we obscure the names. So I was given that task, and I
have to say that my code writing was not very skillful. I gave them letter designations
and that sort of thing, and I think the press figured it out pretty quick who was who. But
we did get them, and we were able to draw conclusions as I said about why were they
doing this, and the materials they reported upstream to Haldeman gave us a clue. And what
was omitted, and there was a lot of stuff on there of people s private conduct and things
that nobody was very interested in, except sometimes it was used for political leverage,
obviously, in the political matters, memoranda, you can see evidence of that. But anyway,
that we didn t subpoena them, they turned them over under this arrangement, but it was
done under sort of coercion. Naftali: So you concluded, therefore, that though they may
have been begun for national security reasons, ultimately the wiretaps were used for political
reasons? Gill: We did. It was fairly evident that that s what it became. Naftali: Tell
us about the camaraderie on the staff. You re working so hard, you re under such pressure,
and you re all supposed to be tight-lipped. How did you blow off steam? Gill: That s interesting.
The tight-lipped is fascinating because I think it s the only major investigation in
Congressional history from which there were no leaks. Doar had told us at the outset that
he did not want any, that we had a duty. Our client was the Congress. Lawyers don t discuss
client s business, and we didn t. Nobody although we got calls several of us got calls. I got
one from somebody on Jack Anderson s staff. We immediately referred it to our security
officer, and didn t respond to them. But all of the lawyers were young, or youngish. Bert
Jenner and John Doar were senior, obviously, and Bernie Nussbaum was maybe three years
older than Bob and Evan, and Evan s actually a year or two younger than I am. And then
many of the staff people, like Hilary, were younger still. But everybody was it was an
amazing group. They were clever people, they were bright people, they were dedicated people.
But they also had Bob particularly had a wonderful sense of humor and kept everybody kind of
together, because it did get long. If you re there until four in the morning, day after
day, and you re getting three, four, five hours of sleep and coming back to it, weekends
included, it got wearing, but I think it s a tribute to the people John chose and how
he reminded us that we had an important duty and a purpose of why we were there. So it
s been a I told him I had occasion to have dinner with him he actually came to Montgomery
on some business a few months ago and I said, You know, among other things that you did,
– and I think he s a great man, he did great things I said, You forged a network of friends
that exists to this day where we all regard each other as special, lifetime friends. And
that s a tribute to him and his leadership. But we had funny things. We had a quasi Easter
day Easter weekend, because I went home for two days that weekend, but observance and
but it is interesting about camaraderie at the very end, when the President announced
his resignation, and we realized that that part at least was over, and although we were
going to stay to put it all into some meaningful form – and some of us had thought we were
going to stay for the Senate trial I wouldn t have been, I wasn t senior enough to lead
any kind of counsel, but we would have assisted we went around to a number of little places
there up behind the Capitol, beer joints and things, and I remember there was a group of
people that I would have described as hippies, long hair and beads and things, and they were
whopping it up. We got him! We got him! All of us were kind of saddened about that, and
thought, That s not the right reaction. However you view it, it s a tragedy, and this outcome.
It may have been necessary, and it may have been appropriate in the Constitutional system,
but it s still a tragedy, and it s not the, We got him, business. That s wrong. And we
didn t stay very long. They didn t know who we were, of course, we left. hch [Content_Types].xml
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