Mitchell Controlled Secret GOP Fund

By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 29, 1972

John N. Mitchell, while serving as U.S. Attorney General, personally controlled a secret Republican fund that was used to gather information about the Democrats, according to sources involved in the Watergate investigation.

Beginning in the spring of 1971, almost a year before he left the Justice Department to become President Nixon's campaign manager on March 1, Mitchell personally approved withdrawals from the fund, several reliable sources have told The Washington Post.

Those sources have provided almost identical, detailed accounts of Mitchell's role as comptroller of the secret intelligence fund and its fluctuating $350,000 -$700,000 balance.

Four persons other than Mitchell were later authorized to approve payments from the secret fund, the sources said.

Two of them were identified as former Secretary of Commerce Maurice H.Stans, now finance chairman of the President's campaign, and Jeb Stuart Magruder, manager of the Nixon campaign before Mitchell took over and now a deputy director of the campaign. The other two, according to the sources, are a high White House official now involved in the campaign and a campaign aide outside of Washington.

The sources of The Post's information on the secret fund and its relationship to Mitchell and other campaign officials include law enforcement officers and persons on the staff of the Committee for the Re-election of the President.

Last night, Mitchell was reached by telephone in New York and read the beginning of The Post's story. He said: "All that crap, you're putting it in the paper? It's all been denied. Jesus. Katie Graham (Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post) is gonna get caught in a big fat wringer if that's published. Good Christ. That's the most sickening thing I've ever heard."

Told that the Committee for the Re-election of the President had issued a statement about the story, Mitchell interjected: "Did the committee tell you to go ahead and publish that story? You fellows got a great ball game going. As soon as you're through paying Williams (Edward Bennett Williams, whose law firm represents the Democratic Party, as well as The Washington Post), we're going to do a story on all of you." Mitchell then hung up the phone.

Asked to comment on the Post report, a spokesman for President Nixon's re-election committee, Powell Moore, said, "I think your sources are bad; they're providing misinformation. We're not going to comment beyond that."

Asked if the committee was therefore denying the contents of the story, Moore responded: "We're just not going to comment."

Later, Moore issued a formal statement that read: "There is absolutely no truth to the charges in the Post story. Neither Mr. Mitchell nor Mr. Stans has any knowledge of any disbursement from an alleged fund as described by the Post and neither of them controlled any committee expenditures while serving as government officials."

Asked to discuss specific allegations in the story, Moore declined, saying: "The statement speaks for itself."

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