Former Nixon counsel tells story of scandal

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What Lolly Burns remembers most about Watergate is Maureen Dean, sitting behind her husband John Dean, in the congressional chamber where the Watergate hearings were held in 1973.

“I remember his gorgeous wife,” Burns said Saturday. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, to look like that.' I thought it was major.”

Burns, 70, was one of about 80 Palm Springs Rotary Club members who turned out Saturday for a spaghetti lunch and a chance to grill the former White House counsel, who accused Nixon of attempting to cover up the Watergate scandal, with questions of their own....

“When I've been a guest lecturer, students today don't have a clue what I'm talking about when I talk about Watergate,” he said. “Our collective memory will fade.”

He also wanted to answer some questions that had remained unanswered in 1976, such as what the president knew about the Watergate break-in and when he knew it.

After years of research, Dean said he found out Nixon was looking for information on a supposed kickback scheme at the Democratic convention.

The president wanted to counter bad publicity he was getting for purportedly settling an anti-trust case against the ITT Corporation in return for a sizable campaign contribution, Dean said.

“There's no evidence, and I don't think it happened that Nixon ordered the Watergate break-in,” he said. “But what he did do was demand information that the only place you were going to find it was someplace like where (Watergate burglars G. Gordon) Liddy and (Howard) Hunt and his team got arrested.

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