004-066

Date: 
Tuesday, June 8, 1971 - 7:59am - 8:02am
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, John Ehrlichman, Henry Kissinger
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


Nixon is conferring with Chief Domestic Policy Adviser John D. Ehrlichman.
President Nixon: Oh, well, then . . .
Henry A. Kissinger: Hello?
President Nixon: Yeah, I'd cut it some more then.
Kissinger: Mr. President.
President Nixon: [to National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger] Just a second.
Nixon continues to confer with Ehrlichman.
President Nixon: Do you want to do some cutting, or want me to take another look at it? Maybe I'll take a look.
John D. Erhlichman: I'll get it back to you, and then [Unclear.].
President Nixon: Yeah, well, maybe I'll read it more carefully the second time because I just thought of it last night, generally speaking.
Erhlichman: Let me arrange to get it back--”
President Nixon: On this Amtrak thing, let me just make that goddamn brief, you know. That's a bunch of assholes. And they've got 30 minutes. That means an hour with that son of a bitch. Is it [Unclear.]?
Ehrlichman: Yeah.
President Nixon: You're not in on it?
Ehrlichman: Well, I understand I was supposed to be, but it can't be done [Unclear.].
President Nixon: Would you tell him to get--”I mean I think it's so ridiculous [Unclear.]. I don't like the conflict and all.
Ehrlichman: [Unclear.]
President Nixon: Yeah, I know it. I know. OK, you get that to me.
Nixon ends the conferral and speaks to Kissinger.
President Nixon: Hello.
Kissinger: Hello, Mr. President.
President Nixon: Yeah, what I was calling about . . . on this [Senator W. Stuart] Symington [D-Missouri] presentation on Laos.1 You have . . . Did we have anybody there that was trying to take up our side? Or what . . . was there any preparation?
Kissinger: Well, of course, this was a secret meeting.
President Nixon: I understand, but I mean--”
Kissinger: But we had . . . no, we had people on the floor to take up our side, and we had State put out a statement at noon that--”
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: --”pointed out that this was an operation that had started . . . actually, it started in March '64 . . . but also dated back some of the other origins to a previous period. And . . .
President Nixon: Well, the point is, they asked about the disclosure on Laos and so forth and so on. As a matter of fact, we disclosed the whole goddamn thing.
Kissinger: That's right. We pointed that out too. In your March 6 statement.
President Nixon: Because I noticed that [Senator Clifford P.] Case [R-New Jersey]--”what was I saying--”calls upon the administration to disclose what we're doing. Well, goddamn it, we've disclosed it. And I . . . it seems to me that . . . did--”when--”we got somebody that can take the offensive on the thing for us? Or what have you--”what's been done on that? Anything? Who'd you talk to? [White House Political Operative Charles W.] Colson or who? [Congressional Liaison Clark] MacGregor?
Kissinger: I talked to Colson, MacGregor, [John] Lehman on my staff, who has been working the Hill. I got together with [CIA Director Richard M.] Helms, [Under Secretary of State John N.] Irwin, and [Defense Secretary Melvin R.] Laird. And Laird's strong recommendation was that yesterday we just put out what we did.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: And that today we counterattack.
President Nixon: Yeah. [Pause.] Well, there isn't a hell of a lot to--”What are you going to counterattack about, Henry? What are you going to say?
Kissinger: Well, actually, it hasn't played so loudly.
President Nixon: Except in the [Washington]Post, I guess, and the [New York]Times, yeah.
Kissinger: On TV it's disappeared.
President Nixon: Well, the airplane crash is [chuckling] a terrible thing, but they always dominate news, don't they?
Kissinger: That's right.
President Nixon: The other thing, did you get that final [Vietnam] casualty figure, Henry?
Kissinger: It's 19.
President Nixon: It is 19.
Kissinger: Right, Mr. President.
President Nixon: And that's sure?
Kissinger: That is positive.
President Nixon: Now, I want you to pass that, if you would, immediately to [White House media consultant John A.] Scali.
Kissinger: Right.
President Nixon: And tell him to develop a plan as to how we can get maximum impact from that. It should say, "The President again proves right." You know, the casualties are the lowest--”what did you say they were? This was [Unclear.].
Kissinger: October 25, 1965.
President Nixon: OK. It really gets down, isn't it?
Kissinger: That's right.
President Nixon: Five and a half years. Because we might as well crow on one, don't you?
Kissinger: That's right.
President Nixon: This is the first time it's been below 20, isn't it?
Kissinger: That's right. We had one 16, but then they put in some missing in action that brought it up.
President Nixon: Fine, Henry. Thank you a lot.
Kissinger: Mr. President, there's one problem I want to mention to you.
President Nixon: Yeah, yeah.
Kissinger: Laird is planning a trip to Asia.
President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah, we heard about it yesterday.
Kissinger: And he's planning to be in Taiwan at the exact moment that I'm going to be in the other place.
President Nixon: Yeah . . . yeah. Well.
Kissinger: And I began yesterday turning it off just in case he hits you at the same time.
President Nixon: Yeah . . . yeah. Well, why don't we just say that I'd like for him to go a later time? It'll fit in to something we're doing with the Russians or some damn thing.
Kissinger: Well, and I put it also on the ground that you turned off [Vice President Spiro T.] Agnew.
President Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: And that this would create a very bad feeling.
President Nixon: Right. OK, good.
Kissinger: Right.
President Nixon: Good.

1Symington had said the Nixon administration was spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" on covert warfare in Laos. "Two Senators Assail U.S. on Laos War," 7 June 1971, New York Times. ↑

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