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Felt Was Asked Under Oath in 1975 If He Was "Deep Throat"

On April 17, 1990, as I was interviewing John Ehrlichman for my book SILENT COUP (1991, St Martin’s Press), the former top White House aide to President Richard M. Nixon told me an incredible story — which current headlines now verify. He said that he had dinner the previous night with a former Justice Department Official who had worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office for Washington, D.C. in the mid-1970s. This friend told Ehrlichman of an event that he had witnessed, and of a relationship between Mark Felt, formerly of the FBI, and reporter Bob Woodward.

According to Ehrlichman’s friend, in the aftermath of the Church hearings, a senatorial inquiry into earlier activities of the FBI and the CIA involving illegal entries — black bag jobs — Mark Felt had been called to testify on this subject to a Grand Jury. (Felt would later be convicted of a crime related to such illegal entries, and in April of 1981 was pardoned by President Reagan.)

As the transcript (see below) of my Ehrlichman interview relates, his friend told the former presidential counselor:

“They had, had Felt for, I guess, an hour and a half, two hours [before the Grand Jury] and he was testifying rather evasively but somewhat responsively; and they turned to his contacts in the White House and said, ‘Did you have much contact with the White House?’ Well, he had some, and he was a little bit sort of bobbing and weaving about who he had contacts with, and so forth; and they asked him a question and he said, well, he didn’t have intimate contact, and then, and smiled rather grandly and said, ‘Well, the next thing I know you’re gonna be accusing me of being Deep Throat.’ And at that point the Grand Juror raisedhis hand and said, ‘Are you?'” My friend said “Felt’s face just collapsed, and he was obviously struggling with the quandary of how to answer that question under oath.” The U.S. Attorney — stopped the proceedings, and advised Felt that he didn’t need to answer that, that the question was not germane to their inquiry, and then they took a recess. And Felt made a bee-line for a telephone booth.Ehrlichman continued “Later on, my friend ran into Bob Woodward at aparty, and Woodward said, ‘I understand you’ve been giving my friend Felt a hard time,’ and the U.S. Attorney’s guy said, ‘Well, those are secret proceedings. How do you know about that?’ ‘Well,” he (Woodward) said, ‘there’s nothing in the law that prevents a witness from telling what went on.’ And they talked a little more and it came out that the one that Felt had telephoned from the booth was Woodward.”

Ehrlichman related that in his friend’s conversation with Woodward at that party, Woodward had confirmed that Felt had been “a source” for him.

My conversations with John Ehrlichman took place over many years, from the late 1980s until near the time of his death in 1999. John had long been involved in trying to figure out the identity of Deep Throat. He suspected it was Mark Felt, but could not reconcile that idea with the one, put forth in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, that Deep Throat had been Woodward’s source for information about the infamous “Deliberate Tape Erasure” that Throat told Woodward about in early November of 1973, since Ehrlichman knew that Felt had resigned from the FBI in April of 1973.

Moreover, Ehrlichman knew that only a small handful of people within the White House had known about that tape gap at the time it was discovered. Ehrlichman later came to believe, therefore, that Deep Throat was a name used to cover several different sources tapped by Woodward, Felt among them.

CONFIDENTIAL

EHRLICHMAN/COLODNY INTERVIEW EXCERPT 4/17/90

EHRLICHMAN: I’ve got a Bob Woodward anecdote for you.

COLODNY: Yeah?

EHRLICHMAN: Yes. I had dinner with a guy last night who used to work for the Justice Department. At some time, I guess in ’74, maybe ’75, they had Mark Felt from the FBI in the Grand Jury room and they were investigating as a result of Frank Church’s hearings about the CIA and so forth. They were investigating illegal entries by the FBI and they had, had

Felt for, I guess an hour and a half, two hours, and he was testifying rather evasively but, uh, somewhat responsively and, um, [papers being shuffled in the background] they turned to his contacts in the White House and said, “Did you have much contact in the White House?” Well, he had some and, uh, he was a little bit sort of bobbing and weaving a little bit about who he had contacts with and so forth and they asked him a question and he said, well, he didn’t have, uh, intimate contact and then and smiled rather grandly and said, “After all, next thing I know you’re gonna be accusing me of being Deep Throat.” And a grand juror raised his hand and asked a question and said, “Are you?” My friend said Felt’s face just collapsed and he was obviously struggling with the quandary of how to answer that question under oath. Uh, they — the — the U.S. Attorney stopped the proceedings and advised Felt that he didn’t need to answer that, that the question was not germane to their inquiry and then they took a recess. And Felt made a B-line for a telephone booth. Later on, my friend ran into Bob Woodward at a party and Woodward said, “I understand you’ve been giving my friend Felt a hard time,” and the U.S. Attorney’s guy said, “Well, those are secret proceedings. How do you know about that?” Well, he says, “There’s nothing in the law that prevents a witness from telling what went on.” And they talked a little more and it came out that the one that Felt had phoned from the phone booth was Woodward.

COLODNY: Great! Felt must have been worried, I guess.

EHRLICHMAN: Evidently.

COLODNY: I don’t — I can’t imagine why except that he was feeding Woodward some information during that period.

EHRLICHMAN: Yeah, Woodward said he was a source.

LEN COLODNY wrote Silent Coup: the Removal of a President and is a regular contributor to watergate.com. He can be reached at: len@colodny.com

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