Wondering whether Richard Nixon authorized the Watergate Hotel burglary in 1972 is at the center of the least interesting whodunit in recent American political history (the second: whether Ronald Reagan okayed the diversion of funds from the sale of TOW missiles to the Contras). A president who discussed the possibility of firebombing the Brookings Institute is not one for whom the moral disquietude of a break-in would cause him much sleep or time in the Old Executive Building with his grumblings and yellow legal pads. In anticipation of Robert Redford’s upcoming documentary, Ron Rosenbaum, however, dissects the evidence and affirms the principle of Occam’s Razor:
Magruder is referring here to evidence that ace Senate Watergate Committee investigator Terry Lenzner had turned up, evidence that there had been a $100,000 illegal “campaign contribution” (read: bribe) paid to Nixon by Howard Hughes through Rebozo, purportedly to influence government decisions about his business interests. In other words, Nixon feared that O’Brien, as Hughes’ minion, might have learned about a Hughes’ payoff to Nixon and have evidence of it in his files at his office at the Watergate. In which case, the potential revelation could sink Nixon’s re-election campaign.
Magruder is Jeb, a flak for the Committee To Reelect The President; O’Brien is Lawrence, chairman of the Democratic Party. Howard Hughes — Howard Hughes everywhere.