Status: Complete


lesser stature were to establish the groundwork for
future testimony and to enable the public to understand the
context in which the Watergate affair unfolded. In a sense, the
Committee proceeded on a "building block" approach. The Chief
Counsel and staff recommended this procedure to the Committee
and the Committee unanimously adopted it.

The Committee followed a practice which had not been
typical of many Congressional hearings. It refrained from calling
a witness in public session who it knew would refuse to testify on the
assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Whenever a witness in executive session before the Committee informed the
Committee that he claimed his constitutional right under the Fifth
Amendment and would not answer the Committee's queries, the matter ended
and the witness was not required to assert his privilege in public
session. This policy was instituted upon the Recommendation of the
Chief Counsel, with which the Committee agreed. The Committee and
staff believed that no legislative purpose would be served by public
exhibitions of witnesses who claimed this privilege, since no information
would be thus received by the Committee upon which it could base legislative
recommendations. The Committee therefore only called witnesses in public
session who would give testimony willingly or upon the grant of immunity.

The Committee believed that it was of the utmost importance
that its public hearings be televised. Live TV coverage was of special

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