The Work Of Modern-Day Woodward And Bernstein

Growing up during the Watergate era meant Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were household names.  In high school, I read their famed All The President’s Men about President Nixon and the illegal activity taking place in the White House.  Due in part to the journalistic duo, my fascination with Nixon, turned into a decades-long history lesson. My bookshelves contain over 70 Nixon books.  Dinner guests know to expect at least one Nixon story before the evening is completed.

Today there are reporters who are cutting their teeth on the impeachment process of Donald Trump.  There are surely new ‘Gregorys’ around the nation just starting to take an interest in national events.  The cycle of reporting on this political story with historical implications will create yet another generation of engaged citizens.

That is why I found this story from Politico to be perfectly toned as it made me reflect back to the journalistic heroes from my teenage years.  The work today’s intrepid reporters are doing for their newspapers and publications will leave our citizens informed and our nation stronger.

This is the proverbial room where it happens — a storied and mysterious place in which witnesses spill secrets that could lead to the third impeachment in U.S. history — and no one on the outside will ever know the full extent of what transpired.

As Republicans gleefully point out, the Trump impeachment inquiry can best be understood by those doors, emblazoned with a scarlet sign reading “Restricted Area — No public or media access.”

For weeks, we’ve spent entire days stationed outside the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, pronounced skiff) waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of the men and women who submit to lawmakers’ interrogation and, if we’re lucky, a morsel of new information from a lawyer or a lawmaker who might be in the mood to dish.

There’s a code of camaraderie outside the SCIF, too. When lawmakers or witnesses are spotted heading toward the facility or exiting, those of us closest to the action will call ahead to our colleagues on other floors to let them know where to station themselves for a second chance to ask a crucial question. Shouts of “heads-up!” reverberating up those spiral stairs jolt everyone to attention.

When it’s clear a lawmaker isn’t going to spill his or her guts about that day’s testimony, we often ask the only thing likely to get a substantive response: How much longer will the interview go? We’ve become so jaded that even when the answer is “almost done,” we brace ourselves for several more hours of waiting and use the time to replenish our depleted caffeine.

What Books Are On Bob Woodward’s Nightstand?

From this past Sunday’s New York Times Book section comes a question and answer I love.

What books are on your nightstand?

My nightstand is crowded. It holds books I’ve recently read, partially read, am waiting to read, and occasionally consult:

The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,” Ken Gormley’s exhaustive study of the controversial and historic Whitewater and Lewinsky investigation by special counsel Kenneth W. Starr; “The Line of Fire,” a memoir by Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. (written with David Chanoff), the underappreciated chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Reagan, who took bold and secret steps to avoid accidental war with the Soviet Union; “Alfred Kazin’s Journals,” by the postwar intellectual and great literary critic, edited by Richard M. Cook; “Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar,” the biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore that holds little back about Soviet brutality; “Traps,” MacKenzie Bezos’ novel on the struggles of four modern women; “Genius,” short essays by Harold Bloom on 100 creative writers from Tolstoy to Henry James; the galleys of Steve Luxenberg’s forthcoming book “Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey From Slavery to Segregation,” to be published in February; “Once an Eagle,” Anton Myrer’s massive 1968 novel of 20th-century war; “All the King’s Men,” Robert Penn Warren’s epic 1946 novel about a cynical populist Southern governor in the 1930s narrated by a former reporter (my first read in college helped draw me to journalism); “Crossing to Safety,” Wallace Stegner’s 1987 novel showing the lasting power of long-term friendships between two couples in academia; “Cutting for Stone,” Abraham Verghese’s 2009 novel on empathy as a necessary force in the practice of medicine and life; and, lastly and valuably, “Muscle Pain Relief in 90 Seconds,” by Dr. Dale L. Anderson.

Which Emotion Should I Have?

My favorite bookstore, Amazon, made a delivery today.

Bob Woodward Book: National Security Threats Not Understood By Donald Trump

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

In Woodward’s telling, many top advisers were repeatedly unnerved by Trump’s actions and expressed dim views of him. “Secretaries of defense don’t always get to choose the president they work for,” Mattis told friends at one point, prompting laughter as he explained Trump’s tendency to go off on tangents about subjects such as immigration and the news media.

Protecting Nation From Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s closest aides have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them, according to a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward.

Woodward’s 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” provides an unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President’s inner circle. From the Oval Office to the Situation Room to the White House residence, Woodward uses confidential background interviews to illustrate how some of the President’s top advisers view him as a danger to national security and have sought to circumvent the commander in chief.

Why Bob Woodward Does Not Vote

This morning while eating breakfast I watched an interview off the DVR with famed reporter and author Bob Woodward.  He was part of last weekends National Book Festival which took place in Washington, D.C.

His latest book is The Last Of The President’s Men which deals with Alexander Butterfield who is now 90.  It was the testimony of Butterfield which alerted investigators to the secret recording President Nixon had made inside the White House and Executive Office Building.

In one of the phoned-in questions taken by the Washington Post reporter something was noted that I think is rather important to note, again.

When asked about his intentions come November Woodward stated he does not vote due to the need to be an objective journalist at a time when so many question reporters and biases.   It is easier for him to do his job and search for the truth if he has not taken a ballot and filled it out.

I have always been a Woodard fan since high school when reading All The President’s Men (co-authored by Carl Bernstein).  When I was a boy these two reporters made me take notice as they were in the news daily, (or so it seemed) while undertaking what I thought was an adventurous role.  As reporters they were at the center of the political explosion of Watergate and cracked the White House of President Nixon into pieces that the nation could better understand.    They were intrepid reporters and made many younger people, such as myself, think about the journalism route.

I posted about this topic also in June 2009 where it was reported that the last candidate Woodward cast a ballot for was Richard Nixon.

New Details About The Watergate Cover-Up

There is never an end to the intrigue and new information that can be obtained about Watergate.

“I am the linchpin of the conspiracy, because [John] Ehrlichman and [John] Mitchell can barely communicate,” Dean said of his role in the scandal at the time. “I’m the glue right between them all that holds it together.”

But in April of 1973, Dean dropped his allegiance to Nixon to cooperate with prosecutors and confessed to his involvement in the cover-up, in exchange for immunity and an agreement that they would not report his testimony back to the Department of Justice.

“I knew from my own dealing from Justice exactly what would happen,” Dean said, explaining the need to stay “off the record” with prosecutors. “It would go to Henry Peterson, the head of the criminal division, he would report to the Attorney General Dick Kleindienst, who would report it back to the White House.”

That same week, Nixon’s former re-election campaign deputy manager Jeb Magruder, who cooperated in planning the break-in, also cut a deal with prosecutors. And by the week’s end, prosecutors broke their deal with Dean and reported back to the Department of Justice to close in on the investigation.

Adding to the drama of the prosecution’s new discoveries was the fact that they came to a head during the same weekend of White House Correspondents Dinner on April 14, 1973.

President Nixon made an appearance at the dinner, unaware that his cover-up was falling apart, while Woodward and Post colleague Carl Bernstein took the stage for an award for their reporting on the scandal.

“Richard Kleindienst, who’s the attorney general, was at the correspondents dinner, and Carl and I went up and … he said, ‘Follow your convictions,’ In other words, he was very encouraging. And then he said, ‘Watergate’s about to explode,’” Woodward remembered Kleindienst telling him.

At the time of the dinner, Kleindienst did not know the details of what prosecutors had learned from Dean and Magruder, which included the implication of his predecessor, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, in the cover-up.

But later that night, the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division came to his house, staying until the early hours of the morning to fill him in on the details on the unraveling cover-up.

Kleindienst reported back to the president that Sunday morning. And later in the day, Nixon met with Dean one-on-one in the White House Executive Office Building, and according to Dean, essentially confessed to his crimes.

But that piece of history has been lost, Dean said, because the recording of that meeting “disappeared.”

“What we know today … is the tape really didn’t disappear,” said Dean.

Though the official explanation is that the White House taping system failed to record the meeting, Dean said that such a failure is very unlikely, and would have been the only such failing in the history of the Nixon White House recording system. In his book “The Nixon Defense,” Dean points to additional evidence that suggests Nixon had the tape pulled, to prevent it  from becoming part of the official record.

“It might be in the Haldeman attic, for all I know,” Dean said of the tape in question.

In this meeting, he takes me through different things that are very troubling,” Dean recalled. “We had talked on March 21 about the fact, he had asked me how much money could it cost to pay these guys off, to keep them quiet,” Dean said. “He said, ‘Do you remember that conversation?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I do.’ He said, ‘Of course, you knew, when I said we could get it, I was just joking?’ And I said, ‘Well I didn’t read it that way, but if that’s what you say, Mr. President.”

At another point in the meeting, Dean said Nixon got out of his chair and crossed to corner of the office.

“In a stage whisper he says, ‘I was foolish to talk to Chuck Colson about clemency for Hunt, wasn’t I?’ And I said, ‘Yes Mr. President, that was probably an obstruction of justice.’” Dean said. “So he, in essence, is confessing, a combination of the money … and the clemency that he had authorized, clemency for Hunt. This tape was obviously deadly.”

Bob Woodward’s Notes About “Deep Throat” Mark Felt Revealed To Public

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This is really most incredible to be able to read.  For Nixon history buffs this is a treat.

Bob Woodward’s notes of his discussions with “Deep Throat” during the Watergate crisis are now posted online.

Here is one example.

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