Saturday, April 17, 1971 - 10:45am - 10:52am
Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Kissinger
White House Telephone


White House Operator: Sir.

President Nixon: Is [National Security Adviser Henry A.] Kissinger coming over? Could you get me [White House Communications Director] Mr. [Herbert G.] Klein, please?

White House Operator: Yes, sir. And I have [Federal Bureau of Investigation Director] Mr. [J. Edgar] Hoover on the line.

President Nixon: All right, I'll take it. [Pause.] Hello?

J. Edgar Hoover: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Hello, Edgar. How are you?

Hoover: I can't tell you how grateful I am for the remarks you made last night.1

President Nixon: Oh, well, what the hell. I—

Hoover: They were terrific.

President Nixon: I always stick by my friends. You know that.

Hoover: You always have.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Hoover: And you certainly did it before a very effective audience, too—

President Nixon: Yeah. [Laughs.]

Hoover: —because they're the—

President Nixon: Well, you know, they're all badgering and so forth, but you know they nearly gave me a set-up question when this fellow said, “In view of the increasing attacks that Mr. Hoover is coming under, do you think he will now . . . resign?”

And I said, “No, it's going to have exactly the opposite effect,” I said, “He hasn't even discussed resignation with me.” And I said, “Certainly, when he's being under vicious and malicious attack, a man that's given 50 years of service is, isn't, and he certainly is not going to.” [laughing] You know, I thought that gave it a good chance.

Hoover: You know, as a matter of—

President Nixon: Well, it's true. Hell, I mean I—none of us are—I won't even—frankly, if they'd ever put it to me, I'd just say I wouldn't even consider it if I were in his place.

Hoover: It was wonderful of you, Mr. President. And you did magnificent on all the other questions.

President Nixon: You weren't there, were you?

Hoover: No, I listened to it on the radio.

President Nixon: Oh, you heard it. Yeah, well—

Hoover: On radio, and it came over excellently—

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.

Hoover: —and you sounded more relaxed than you do on TV.

President Nixon: Well, it was more editors, so I could be a little bit—

Hoover: There were a few little jabs of humor that were very good, too.

President Nixon: Well—

Hoover: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: —the main thing is, as they say, to let your friends support you in this and that—

Deletion #1, 01:15, “Federal Statute”

President Nixon: Fine, well, that's fine. I just—Edgar, I was just going to say, Henry Kissinger just walked in, and he disagrees. He says I shouldn't have defended you.

President Nixon and Hoover both laugh.

President Nixon: No, here he is. I'll let you say hello to him.

Hoover: Thank you so much. [Pause.]

Henry Kissinger: Hello?

Hoover: Hello, Doctor.

Kissinger: Mr. Hoover. Well, you know you have many admirers in this building.

Hoover: Well, I thought the President was magnificent last night. I just can't find words to express my appreciation for what he said.

Kissinger: Well, anyone who's done your service to the country, you should not be exposed to these sort of malicious attacks.

Hoover: Oh, but you did, and I am also . . . they are just trying to bait anybody who's a member of the establishment.

Kissinger: [Unclear.]

Hoover: I think that the statement of the President last night and all the answers he made—some of them were loaded questions—were magnificent.

Kissinger: Well, that's what I thought, and I thought it was—it came out very, very well.

Hoover: I thought it was excellent. And it's awful nice to have you tell me what you just said.

Kissinger: Well, it's a privilege to be able to work with you.

Hoover: Thank you so much, Doctor.

Kissinger: Good-bye.

Hoover: Bye.


1 Taking questions before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Nixon was asked whether increasing public criticism of Hoover would hasten his retirement. Nixon said it would probably have the opposite effect. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.