Testimony at the United States hearings on the Watergate affair was interrupted on Thursday (July 19th) by a bizarre hoax.
CU ZOOM OUT Newspaper headline to senate committee hearing.
SCU Ervin makes an announcement.
SV Public gallery
SCU Mardian giving evidence.
SCU Ervin making second announcement
SCU Ervin speaking
SAM ERVIN: "Secretary Shultz has further advised me that the President will meet with me at a convenient time - meet with me in my character as Chairman of he Committee, at a convenient time next week and arrange procedures by which these tapes can be made available to the Committee. I am very much gratified by this information. I think the information will enable the committee to expedite this investigation, and I think it was a very wise decision on the part of the president."
This was how Senator Ervin broke into the proceedings to announce the hoax:
GENERAL ROBERT MARDIAN: (FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL)
"although he and Mr. Hunt were against the entry that Mr. Magruder"...
ERVIN: "A hoax has been perpetrated upon the Committee, at least upon the Chairman of the Committee. I was called to the telephone just before the lunch period. I was told before I went to the telephone that Secretary of the Treasury Shultz was calling and wanted to speak to me. I went to the telephone and the voice at the other and of the line informed me that it was Secretary of the Treasury Shultz.
But I was called to the hone and was informed that Secretary Shultz was indeed on the phone and I went to the phone and had a conversation with a man who really assured me that he was the real Secretary Shultz, and he informed me he had had no conversation with me today - that whoever did it was somebody else - that the only conversation he had with me recently by telephone - rather he had called me yesterday to tell me something about the White House - the witnesses form the Secret Service - so it's just an awful thing for a very trusting soul like me (laughter) to find that there are human beings - if you can call them such - who would perpetrate a hoax like this."
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Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Testimony at the United States hearings on the Watergate affair was interrupted on Thursday (July 19th) by a bizarre hoax.
The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Sam Ervin broke off the proceedings to announce that President Nixon had agreed to release tape recordings of his conversations in the White House with senior aides. Senator Ervin said the news had been telephoned to him by the Secretary of the Treasury, George Shultz. The tapes could provide vital evidence on the extent of the President's involvement in the Watergate scandal, and news of their "release" was immediately flashed around the world.
Half an hour later, Senator Ervin again interrupted the hearings (while the former assistant Attorney-General General Robert Mardian was giving evidence) to announce that the telephone call was a hoax. The call, he explained, had come through on a confidential committee room number, and as he did not know Mr. Shultz's voice very well, Senator Ervin said he had assumed the call was genuine.
The White House has said that Mr. Nixon is drawing up a letter of reply this weekend to the Committee's request for the tapes. The President is recuperating from his recent illness at his Camp David retreat.