Bernstein reached Segretti by phone late that afternoon. "Hi, Carl," he answered. "I wondered when we'd meet up with each other." His tone was cheerful and chipper, but not flip. He agreed to let Bernstein and Meyers come over. "I won't discuss any specifics, and everything has to be off the record"
Segretti was dressed in corduroy jeans and Scandinavian sweater and had a grin on his face when they arrived. He shook hands with Bernstein warmly. "How've you been?" he asked. Bernstein was struck by the fact that he was only about five foot four This was the master spy? Secret agent with a White House badge? Segretti had a baby face, a slightly toothy smile and traces of a cowlick.
Segretti invited Bernstein and Meyers to sit down on the living-room couch and chatted about his hi-fi equipment.
"The fact is that I'm about broke," he said after a while, "out of a job and I still have payments on the car - and there will be legal fees."
Segretti was, by his own account, confused, scared, angry, and with friends. Bernstein found him likable, and his situation pathetic.
"I really want to tell the whole story and get this thing over with," Segretti said."I don't understand how I got in over my head. I didn't know what it was all about. They never told me anything except my own role. I had to read the papers to find out."
"The White House"
Segretti was agitated about the inquiries made to his family, friends and acquaintances by the press, and by the investigators from Senator Edward Kennedy's subcommittee.
"Kennedy is out for blood and I'm the one treading water and bleeding," Segretti said. "Kennedy will tear me to shreds. Some people even asked my friends if I knew Arthur Bremer." Segretti's eyes filled with tears. "How could anybody even ask something like that? It's terrible. It's horrible. I didn't do anything to deserve that. What do people think I am? If that's the kind of thing Kennedy gets into, that might just be the point where I say 'F*** the whole thing' and getup and walk out and let them put me in jail... I've been dragged through the mud, maligned you'd think I was making bombs or something. I haven't done anything illegal, or even that bad. My friends have been harassed, my parents, my girlfriends; my privacy has been invaded; my phone is tapped, it clicks all the time; people have been following me; everybody I ever telephoned has been bothered."
Segretti's naiveté was compelling. He traced most of his difficulties to the press. He was particularly angry with the New York Times and Newsweek for getting his phone records and badgering his family. So Meyers and Bernstein calculatedly dumped on the opposition.
The process was excruciatingly slow. Segretti wouldn't volunteer any information without prodding and refused to discuss his activities except in general terms.
"What I did was mostly nickel dime stuff," he said. "Maybe fifteen cents or a quarter every once in a while."
Finally, Segretti admitted he had been hired by Chapin. Strachan also had discussed the job with him. Kalmbach had paid him. The first approach had been from Dwight Chapin to Segretti, not vice versa.
"I didn't go looking for the job," Segretti said bitterly. "What would you do if you were just getting out of the Army, if you had been away from the real world for four years, you didn't know what kind of law you wanted to practice, and you got a call to go to work for the President of the United States? If the really sinister things actually happened, I don't think Dwight knew about them," Segretti said. "Dwight just did what he was told."
Told by whom?
"Well, I'd sure like to meet Haldeman," he suggested.
Did Segretti have any hard evidence that it was Haldeman? Had Chapin ever said so?
"No, but I understand that Dwight generally takes his orders on everything from Haldeman."
Segretti confirmed meeting Howard Hunt and a man he thought was Gordon Liddy in Miami; Hunt had asked him to organize an anti-Nixon demonstration to embarrass McGovern. He would not say what the plan was, "but it sounded illegal to me, and I didn't want anything to do with being violent or breaking the law."
After each visit from the FBI, Segretti acknowledged, he had called Chapin for advice, but he would not say who had counseled him just before his grand-jury appearance. He denied that his testimony had been prompted or rehearsed, or that he had been shown FBI reports. "That's an example of some of the lies and bullshit that have been written," he said. "That would be as bad as the Watergate bugging." He had "discussed" his upcoming testimony with someone from the White House; they had agreed that every question asked by the grand jury would be answered truthfully. Bernstein got the impression that the discussion had been with John Dean. Segretti said he had been interviewed for what he presumed was the "Dean investigation." " But he wouldn't say whether the interview had been conducted by Dean himself or a member of his staff, or whether it had occurred immediately prior to the grand-jury appearance. "I won't discuss John Dean," he said, and he would not say whether he had ever met him.
Segretti said he was through being a pawn of the White House. "They're going to have to break down my door and drag me to get me out of here again. All I want is to get my life back in order. I think the lowest point was when the mother of an old girlfriend told me she didn't want her daughter to see me any more. People can really be cruel."
Again Segretti's eyes glazed over and filled with tears. "Everyone is out to rip me apart and crucify me - Kennedy, the White House, the press."