002-043

Date: 
Monday, April 26, 1971 - 7:55pm - 8:01pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


 

President Nixon: Hello?
Operator: [White House Chief of Staff] Mr. [H.R. “Bob”] Haldeman, Mr. President. There you are.
President Nixon: Hello, Bob?
Bob Haldeman: Yes, sir.
President Nixon: I just talked to [Chief Domestic Policy Adviser] John Ehrlichman and I agree I should come back Monday. Here's the view I have on the thing, is that we announce tomorrow that I'm going out for this, you know, they don't know how long they're planning to stay anyway, do they?
Haldeman: We haven't set any—
President Nixon: Fine.
Haldeman: —specific time, no.
President Nixon: Fine. We just say that we're going out for this and I'll come back, plan to come back on Monday morning, you see. So then I'll be here during this period. You know, if the damn Capitol is, you know—
Haldeman: Well—
President Nixon: —stirred up, I ought to be here. I shouldn't be out in the hinterlands.
Haldeman: OK. Well, the view of everybody but Ehrlichman, and I thought he shared it, was that you should not come home on Monday unless that happens and then you should only come home, you know, at the last minute on Monday.
President Nixon: On the other hand-–
Haldeman: There is—
President Nixon: —if we announce we are going to stay for a week and then come back, I don't think that's a good idea. That is, we create a national crisis then that I rushed back because of this and that. I don't want the press to go out there with their wives and everything and then plan to stay a week and then . . . how are we going to handle the announcement?
Haldeman: We haven't set any specific time. We weren't going to. We were just going to leave it that you'd be back—they've already said that, obviously, that you haven't set a return time, that you will have to be back for the agriculture thing on Friday.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: We've just left it at that.
President Nixon: Well, I'd like to be in a position, though, that I don't appear to be doing something because of pressure. Tat we sort of planned it this way.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: How, how can we—well, think about it.
Haldeman: [Unclear] we can.
President Nixon: Tomorrow we'll, before [White House Press Secretary Ronald L.] Ziegler makes his press announce—tells the press that I'm going out and—
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: —I'll be there for the weekend and then I'll, you know, be returning to Washington after the, you know . . . I just don't think we ought to—
Haldeman: Yeah, I can see your point.
President Nixon: See, I don't want to be in a position where we have announced we're going to be there a week and then we rush back because the Capitol is under siege and all that sort of thing. I feel that he may have a point there.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: But we'll think about it, sleep on it overnight, and then in the morning sort of develop a plan.
Haldeman: The thing right now is this, looking at the TV news tonight, a bunch of people [unclear]—
President Nixon: I understand, according to John, they sort of, they didn't play up the profanity or anything of that.
Haldeman: No.
President Nixon: They just sort of made them look awful good, really.
Haldeman: They didn't do that. They didn't make them look good, but they sure didn't make it look bad.
President Nixon: They didn't?
Haldeman: And I don't think that—I'm sure that folks at home didn't get the impression that there was anything very important going on, that—
President Nixon: Is that right?
Haldeman: It was the same old stuff with people running around [unclear].
President Nixon: Boy, isn't it something? I hope that—well, I guess there's nothing we can do to . . . The networks really ought to be taken to task for not reporting the whole thing. Well, what the hell. [Unclear.]
Haldeman: We'll see what stirs up now tomorrow. And they may get discipline of their people, and I don't think they want this to get that far out of control yet, because what they're trying to do is build up.
President Nixon: Mmm-hmm.
Haldeman: And—
President Nixon: In other words they think they may have moved a little too fast too soon?
Haldeman: Could be. That's what some of them were saying today and were trying to turn the others off.
President Nixon: They may not be able to control them though.
Haldeman: No, they may not. That's—
President Nixon: Well, let's think in terms of not getting, you know, tied in to—I mean, I don't want any—I do think we do not want to leave an announcement in the way that we're planning to stay a week, you see.
Haldeman: Yeah. Yeah. I agree.
President Nixon: I'm just going out for this event, and I'll be there over the weekend and be returning to Washington early next week.
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: Right?
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: And then we'll come back Monday if I feel like it. Fine?
Haldeman: Right.
President Nixon: But I don't know whether we're going to know much more. You mean, you think we'll know more on Monday, do [unclear]—
Haldeman: Oh, sure, we'll know. See, the tie-in type stuff hits on Monday morning. We may know a lot more. We've got much better intelligence on this whole thing than we have had before, because we got four informers in the top levels of the operation and—
President Nixon: Oh, really.
Haldeman: —a whole bunch, I think 23, in the organization.
President Nixon: Good.
Haldeman: And in the next few days we'll know a lot more about what they're really going to do.
President Nixon: Right.
Haldeman: And their capability of doing it and by Sunday we'll know—
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: —pretty much precisely, because their crowd, their people will all gather Saturday.
President Nixon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Haldeman: And then anything they do on Monday morning, the effect that they have there Monday morning, will be between seven and eight or seven and nine which is six o'clock in the morning [in California].
President Nixon: Tomorrow they're going to work over the agencies, are they?
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: Well, that's all right. Let's just let it develop and then—
Haldeman: They're going to move around to departments.
President Nixon: And if it gets . . . the departments though should take a hard line. I don't want them inviting them in to, you know, to sit in and all that sort of stuff.
Haldeman: Yeah.
President Nixon: None of this sort of stuff. Not even at HEW [Health, Education and Welfare], huh?
Haldeman: Right. Well, we definitely should.
President Nixon: Because you know the people may . . . it's too bad the networks didn't carry what really happened. Well, one thing for sure, the senators know it, don't they?
Haldeman: Yep. So they promptly adjourned, apparently.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Haldeman: They recessed.
President Nixon: Until Thursday. [laughs] All right. OK. Well, we'll play it that way, then. Fine.
Haldeman: OK. Right.

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