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Bob Woodward: we'll never know all of Nixon's crimes

President Richard Nixon (USA) toasts Zhou Enlai the Chinese Prime Minister during a state banquet in Beijing in1972.
President Richard Nixon (USA) toasts Zhou Enlai the Chinese Prime Minister during a state banquet in Beijing in1972.
Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Forty years after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, we still don't know the full extent of his crimes — and we likely never will. In a review of John Dean's new book "The Nixon Defense", Bob Woodward writes, "the full story of the Nixon administration's secret operations may forever remain buried along with their now-deceased perpetrators."

As an example, he recounts a taped conversation between Nixon and his Special Counsel Charles Coulson the day after one of the Washington Post's most explosive Watergate stories was published. "Nothing in that article this morning has anything to do with my office," Coulson brags. "The things that I have done that could be explosive in the newspaper will never come out, because nobody knows about them. I don't trust anybody in my office."

In another taped conversation a few months later, Coulson goes even further:

"But you see, I did things out of Boston," Colson said, referring to his home town. "We did some blackmail and - "

"My God," Nixon interrupted. Even he was apparently surprised.

"I'll go to my grave before I ever disclose it," Colson continued. "But we did a hell of a lot of things and never got caught."

Coulson was as good as his word: he died in 2012, and as far as anyone knows, he took the full story of his crimes to his grave. You can read Woodward's full review of "The Nixon Defense" at the Washington Post.