Mr. John Ehrlichman, a former senior advisor to President Nixon, began his testimony before the?
GV Ehrlichman enters committee room with lawyers
LV Senator Ervin calls for order
SCU Ehrlichman interviewed
SV People listening
EHRLICHMAN: "Let's look at what I did do when the President gave me the introductions back in the first of 1972 with regard to holding confidential the activities of that special unit. What I did do was to contact the people who were involved -- that is Krogh and Young primarily -- and say -- this is the President's decision -- this is his determination -- he does not want this talked about. It is confidential, it is secret, it is not to be discussed."
ERVIN: "Before the Watergate?"
EHRLICHMAN: "Oh yes six months before. But the point is, I didn't run around trying to bribe anyone -- I didn't run around trying to shred documents -- as a matter of fact we preserved the documents for historical purposes, because this was an important interlude in the history of this country. We'd never had such a wholesale raid on the nation's defence secrets as we had in that six-month period. (LAUGHTER) -- That's right."
ERVIN: "Mr. Ehrlichman, do I understand that you are testifying that the Committee to Re-elect the President and those associated with them constituted a (INDISTINCT) institution that gave $450,000 to some burglars and their lawyers merely because they felt sorry for them." (LAUGHTER)
EHRLICHMAN: "I'm afraid I'm not your best witness on that Mr. Chairman, I don't know what their motives were -- those will appear in the course of the procedure.
ERVIN: "You say this was a defence fund just like that given to Angela Davis and to Daniel Ellsberg, then you...."
EHRLICHMAN: "I stated that that was my understanding of it."
ERVIN: "Well the Daniel Ellsberg and the Angela Davis defence funds were raised at public meetings and the newspapers carried items about it, didn't they?"
EHRLICHMAN: "I'm not sure that we know who the donors to those funds were, I dare say there are many people in this country who contributed to these funds who wouldn't want it known."
ERVIN: "Yes, but don't you think most of the peoples contributed to their funds because they believed in the causes they stood or?"
EHRLICHMAN: "I assume that."
ERVIN: "Well aside from the Committee to Re-elect the President and the White House Aides like yourself, they might believe in the cause of burglars and wire-tappers (INDISTINCT) - (LAUGHTER)
EHRLICHMAN: "No sir, I didn't contribute a nickel, Mr. Chairman."
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Background: Mr. John Ehrlichman, a former senior advisor to President Nixon, began his testimony before the Senate Committee investigating the Watergate bugging scandal on Tuesday (July 24th). Reading from a 30-page prepared statement, he set the tone of his evidence on the first page by saying "I am here to refute every charge of illegal conduct on my part which has been made during the course of these hearings".
The Committee Chairman, Senator Sam Ervin, questioned Mr. Ehrlichman on the activities of Mr. Bud Krogh and Mr. David Young -- directors of the "special unit" or "Plumbers Group" in the White House, They sent a memorandum to Mr. Ehrlichman in August 1971, recommending that "a covert operation" be undertaken to examine the medical films on Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, who later stood trial accused of leaking the Pentagon Papers to the press.
Senator Ervin also questioned Mr. Ehrlichman on the funds which were carmarked for the clandestine "Plumbers". They were apparently employed to plug leaks of confidential government information.