005-058

Date: 
Sunday, June 13, 1971 - 1:28pm - 1:35pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, William Rogers
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


President Nixon: Hello.

White House Operator: Secretary [of State William P.] Rogers--”

William P. Rogers: Hi, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Hi, Bill.

NARA Excision

Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 4s

President Nixon: [Unclear]--”

Rogers: Hey, that wedding was just great.

President Nixon: Well, it was the . . . you've got to give Pat and Tricia the credit. They really worked. And that White House staff, weren't they great?

Rogers: Everything, it was absolutely superb.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: And I thought the press coverage was--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: --”excellent.

President Nixon: The TV was, really--”you didn't see it, probably?

Rogers: I saw some of it. I thought it was great.

President Nixon: It was really--”really came out--”all three networks did a--”just really couldn't have done better.

Rogers: I don't know how you could have done any better.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: I mean, there were no snide remarks or anything, just great.

President Nixon: Yeah. Really, really handled it well.

The two men chuckle.

Rogers: It couldn't have been better.

NARA Excision

Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 11s

President Nixon: Incidentally, one thing I was going to mention that the casualties this week are going to be less than 20 again, unless they have some . . . something they haven't--”

Rogers: Hmm.

President Nixon: Unless something has come up, unless they have some MIAs [missing in action] that they're putting in. In fact, it could be 15, I think.

Rogers: Is that right?

President Nixon: Yeah. So we're now coming into that period which we said we would. [Chuckles.]

Rogers: I know. You know, I heard on the radio a little while ago that this is the first time that there's been no combat activity involving United States troops in South Vietnam.

President Nixon: Today?

Rogers: In the last 24 hours. No combat at all.

President Nixon: Good, good.

Rogers: Wasn't that good?

President Nixon: Well, there were three days last week, apparently. I just talked--”calling--”talking to [Deputy National Security Adviser Alexander M.] Haig, and he said there were three days there were no killed-in-action at all.

Rogers: Isn't that wonderful?

President Nixon: And as of--”through Thursday there were only four. So, Friday, Saturday may have picked up some. But as I said they all--”they sometimes pick up some who have been missing and that they just decide that--”

Rogers: Sure.

President Nixon: --”they're gone now and they just let them go.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: Yeah, you know I was . . . I don't know whether you--”I didn't read the piece, but Haig was talking to me about it--”that piece in the [New York] Times is, of course, a massive security leak from the Pentagon, you know.

Rogers: Is that [unclear]--”

President Nixon: It all relates to--”it all relates, of course, to everything up until we came in.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: And it's hard on [President Lyndon B.] Johnson, it's hard on [President John F.] Kennedy, it's hard on [former Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot] Lodge. Of course, the difficulty from our standpoint--”and I suppose the Times is running it now because of McGovern-Hatfield--”it's also hard on the Vietnamese, you know, the covert--”but apparently, the--”2

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: [Former Defense Secretary Robert S.] McNamara had the study made--”started--”and then it was continued by Clifford. But it's really something. They said, according to Haig, 4,000 secure documents were apparently just leaked to the Times.3

Rogers: Isn't that awful?

President Nixon: Goddamn.

Rogers: Of course, McNamara looks lousy too. He comes out looking--”

President Nixon: Yeah, I didn't read the piece--”but he looks, apparently--”

Rogers: He looks bad.

President Nixon: By the time, you see, the difficulty was McNamara started. Then [former Defense Secretary Clark M.] Clifford got in, he makes McNamara look bad.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: And trying to make him[self] look good.

Rogers: God, they're a bunch of scoundrels, aren't they?

President Nixon: This goddamn Clifford you know, his talking around. If he's got something he ought to say, he ought to tell us.4

Rogers: Well, I'll talk to you--”

President Nixon: I know he's going to see your fellow Wednesday, but--”

Rogers: Who is? He's going to see who?

President Nixon: Clifford. Well, I hear he's going to--”he said he was--”he told the press that he was going to see [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William H.] Sullivan or . . . to report to him, you know, --˜cause you--”we asked for it. In other words, we said, --œLook, if you've got anything, what is it?--

Rogers: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: And he said, --œWell, I'll talk to Sullivan.--

Rogers: Well--”

President Nixon: Sullivan called him.

Rogers: I . . . Christ, I didn't know that Sullivan called him.

President Nixon: No, no, he didn't--”at our suggestion.5

Rogers: Oh, at our suggestion?

President Nixon: Oh, no, sure, sure.

Rogers: Oh, I see.

President Nixon: Because, see, when it came up, Ron--”I didn't want any interest shown in the White House, so we just said, --œWell, have Sullivan say, --˜Well look, we're negotiating here, if you've got something to pass on to [chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks] David K.E.] Bruce, let us know.'--

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: But, he's [chuckles] . . .

Rogers: Well, I thought that I could take him on a little Tuesday. Did [Defense Secretary] Mel [Laird]--”was Mel on television today? Somebody--”

President Nixon: He had--”I think he was supposed to have been on one of the talk shows, but I . . . Yes, I think he was, yeah. I didn't see it.

Rogers: Maybe you and I'll have a chance to talk a bit tomorrow about what I should say Tuesday. I'll take him on as hard as you want me to.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, I would say this, that the real problem is, of course, how much we want to build him.

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: But on the other hand, others may build him so that he has to be taken on. But we'll see what Mel did, too--”Mel may have--”

Rogers: Right, right.

President Nixon: Mel said he was going to take him on, but--”

Rogers: Well, I think that if I take him on, I should do it with a flick of my wrist [unclear]--”

President Nixon: Well, that's the--”and more in sorrow than in anger.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: My view--”the view being, look, after all he was in this whole thing, and he left us with--”

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: --”550,000 men there, and so forth, and casualties at 300 a week. Now if he's--”we--”under those circumstances, of course, if he's got information, that he should--”that he owes it to pass it on.

Rogers: Right, right.

President Nixon: We--”we're--”and I think the idea, too, that my God, we're exploring every possible thing. You know, Bruce brings up everything he can, every damn thing.

Rogers: Of course. Well, I can, I can--”

President Nixon: [Unclear] get a nibble.

Rogers: I can hit him pretty hard if I have to, because he's very vulnerable.

President Nixon: I don't know what he has, I--”

Rogers: Oh, he doesn't have any--”

President Nixon: It's probably through--”don't you think--”through some embassy or something?

Rogers: Oh, I don't know. It's a political move, that's all it is.

President Nixon: You think so?

Rogers: Sure.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: He doesn't have anything.

NARA Excision

Category: Unknown
Duration: Unknown

President Nixon: They tell me that Johnson is furious at him now. Johnson was at--”in New York speaking to--”talking at some sort of a party he was attending, and apparently he said, --œDamn it,-- he says, --œThe trouble with Clifford is that he can talk like this and go out to Burning Tree.--6 And he says --œThe President's got to go back to the damn office,-- and he says, --œhe ought to tell him.--

Rogers: Yeah. [Chuckles.] That's a good boy.

President Nixon: Not bad.

Rogers: That's really pretty good isn't it?

President Nixon: It's so true of Clifford.

Rogers: Well--”

President Nixon: Well, let's talk about it tomorrow.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: And let's see what Mel said, and get a line. Where--”I'm deliberately having . . . well, [White House Press Secretary Ronald L.] Ziegler has played it, as you know, rather cool.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: And will continue to tomorrow, but--”

Rogers: Right. Well, we can decide--”I don't think--”

President Nixon: Right.

Rogers: And we want to be sure we don't build him up as an individual--”

President Nixon: No. Never--”

Rogers: --”'cause he's not known in the country.

President Nixon: He's not known, and the story, from what I have heard, is not getting a hell of a lot of attention nationally.

Rogers: No.

President Nixon: It's more of a Washington/New York story.

Rogers: Even in Washington, though, the papers are sort of criticizing him.

President Nixon: Yeah. I understand [columnist William S.] White took him on. [Chuckles.]

Rogers: Well, even a fellow like [Washington Post Chief Diplomatic Correspondent] Chal[mers] Roberts who's--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: --”against us took him on.

President Nixon: Of course he was over there, too. Roberts got the other--”had that interview,
which . . .

Rogers: That's right. Right. And really when you read that interview is one, --œGee, they've toughened their position.--

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: It's not--”

President Nixon: They're saying, --œLook, we won't do anything unless you stop the aid.--

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: Sure. Well, we'll see you tomorrow.

Rogers: All right, fine. Thanks, Mr. President. Bye.

 

1 A transcript of this conversation appears in John Prados and Margaret Pratt Porter, editors, Inside the Pentagon Papers (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2004) pp. 91--“95. (↑)

2 Senator George McGovern, D-South Dakota, and Senator Mark O. Hatfield, R-Oregon, had proposed legislation that would require Nixon to withdraw American troops from Vietnam by the end of 1971. (↑)

3 Nixon was referring to the first article on the Pentagon Papers, a massive, classified Defense Department study of Vietnam decision-making. (↑)

4 Johnson's former defense secretary had said that Hanoi would agree to free American prisoners of war in 30 days in return for ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam by the end of 1971. --œClifford Offers Formula for U.S. To Quit War in --˜71,-- 9 June 1971, New York Times. (↑)

5 In other words, Sullivan didn't call Clifford on his own initiative, but at the White House's suggestion. (↑)

6 Burning Tree is a private club with a golf course. (↑)

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