Senator Howard Baker, President Nixon, President Trump discussed on MSNBC Rachel Maddow (audio)
Kind of two garbled to hear. This is the kind of sounds like a coin operated version of space invaders. Here's being played inside a washing machine. But it is Senator Howard Baker and Richard Nixon on that tape Nixon at one point on the tape can be heard saying and if it does get rough you may have to turn and get away from this. You were going to have to get away from this. That's President Nixon essentially coaching the top Republican on the Senate Watergate incre- agree Howard Baker that Baker's going to have to figure out a way to shut the Watergate investigation down if it goes in a way that's to adverse to Nixon at any point all right so this a secret meeting at the White House Top Republican on the committee and the President WHO's under investigation. That's bad right in terms of this idea that this was going to be an impartial openminded. You just seeking the facts inquiry. Mayors the top Republican on that inquiry later admitting that he considered himself to be secretly in cahoots with President Nixon from the outset and he was intending to steer the thing as much as he could to protect Nixon's interests except as Howard Baker would later. Explain things veered off for him in an unexpected direction. Notwithstanding that initial the attitude that he had toward the Watergate scandal the initial way that he saw his own role as a Nixon loyalist Republican on that committee. Things didn't work out that way because at that secret meeting at the White House were Howard. Baker went up there to tell president. Nixon hey listen. Don't put this this on your schedule. Let's just meet off the books I just want to assure you. I'm GonNa Take Care of you on this committee when he went up to the White House to go meet with Nixon in that meeting something happened. That changed Howard Bakers on course when it came to Watergate. Something happened about meeting that. In fact change the course of American history. Watch this When the Committee was constituted I felt well? You know it's not gonna about device just just democratic effort to embarrass him but the election's over and That's what I thought and indeed I called President Action on the telephone. I said Mr Mr President. I am the senior Republican on this committee and I would like to come down and talk to you and he said of course. I did the next day I remember and he was in his his office. said the old eob the old executive office building across the street from the Oval Office Edward. I walked in. I said something like Mr President. macedon remember this comedian needed. I want to protect your rights. I'm your friend and I'm the senior pub. He said I thank you and we chatted for a few minutes and then I said this I guess yes. It was important point in my life because then I said That I do hope my friend John Mitchell have any problems and mix. It said well Howard he may at a light bulb went off in my head and I decided you know Baker. You don't know as much about the situation as you think queued. And you'd better put your head down and charge into this thing and let the facts fall where they will. That was not offered. When you find a single moment hold a defining moment when you make a decision of that magnitude but that was such a moment and I decided that notwithstanding personal friendship with Dixon that he had campaigned for me and my racist for the Senate that he was a Republican president? I was a cedar notwithstanding all of that this was a very serious matter that I know much about it. I'd better better find out and that's what I decided to do that. And I hope it does not something to me to say that but I think we did a pretty good job with it. Hope it doesn't sound vain one of me to say it but I think we did a pretty good job with it. We all know how it worked out. Terms of that investigation right that was Senator Howard Baker speaking more than thirty years after after Watergate in an interview looking back at two thousand five talking about that defining moment when he realized that his preconceptions about Watergate his hope and his expectation his old friend John Mitchell wasn't implicated in this scandal his sort of partisan self-assurance about the president's innocence and the scandal handle being some democratic invention. This moment when he realized you know what. Maybe I'm wrong about all of that. And so he decided to drop his preconceived Steve Notions and his plans to use the inquiry to try to protect the president and instead he decided in that moment he said like a light bulb went off. He decided in that moment that he would actually be humble about it that he would stop assuming that he knew everything there was to know about this and instead he would try to find out the facts and follow them wherever they would leave. The central question at this point is simply put. What did the president know? No and when did he know it. That's the same Howard. Baker has famous crystallizing question from the Watergate inquiry. What did the president know? And when did he know it you know. Even at the time he asked that in the Watergate trial a Watergate investigation Howard Baker didn't know the answer. He didn't know at that point when he asked that question. What Nixon when Nixon knew it at that point in the investigation Howard Baker was still hoping that Nixon would be shown to be out of loop that the facts would prove that Nixon was unaware of what was going on in this scandal but in fact he agreed to follow the evidence as it came to light and Howard Baker the rest of the Watergate Committee Republicans and Democrats would go on to discover that there was important new evidence? They needed to look at that. Shed light on the president's direct involvement involvement in the scandal including the tapes that were made at the White House and despite all of his preconceptions which he later copped to his preconceptions is prejudices his intentions coming into it. Howard Baker followed the facts and ended up joining with the Democratic leadership? The Watergate Committee to demand that the White House tapes be handed over and in so doing the Watergate inquiry produced evidence of the president's guilt beyond any reasonable doubt and that is why Richard Nixon resigned the presidency rather than be forced out of office by a certain bipartisan vote in the US Senate Baker. You don't know as much about the situation issue as you think you do and you.