Tuesday, June 15, 1971 - 6:35pm - 6:38pm
Richard Nixon, John Mitchell
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.

White House Operator: The Attorney General.

John N. Mitchell: Yes, Mr. President.

President Nixon: I wondered if you had any success with [Secretary of State William P.] Rogers.

Mitchell: Yes, he's agreeable to do it.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Mitchell: We've got people from Defense, Justice, and his counsel over there, Stevenson, working on it.

President Nixon: Good. Good.

Mitchell: And he understood the point and was perfectly happy to do it.

President Nixon: And he'll get out sort of a general statement of some sort.

Mitchell: Yes, sir. It will not be limited solely to the foreign affairs interest--”

President Nixon: Yeah. I think what is very important in this is to find a way to get some strong lang[uage]--”like --œa massive breach of security,-- things of that sort, so that we can get something in the public mind. We're not just interested in making the technical case for the lawyers.

Mitchell: Exactly.

President Nixon: Something where they can see what is really involved here, --œthis . . . irresponsible,-- you know. Use some really high-flown [chuckling] adjectives. That's what--”I hope you could get some people to work on that.

Mitchell: We will, and, of course, Bill has the understanding that it'll be sent over to the White House to be looked at before it goes out.

President Nixon: Right.

Mitchell: So your phrase-coiners and word-makers can get a crack at it.

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah. Well, I'll tell you, John, it's one of those fights where you don't know whether you--”you don't know how it's going to affect you, but boy it's one we had to make, and by God, it's one I enjoy. These bastards have gone too far this time, don't you think?

Mitchell: It is certainly my opinion. You had to do it. And the important thing is to work at it, like you've suggested, to try and structure it so that the import of it, and the nature of it gets through to the public.

President Nixon: Right.

Mitchell: And I believe that the press is going to be reasonably fair on this. I don't mean the Times and the [Washington] Post, but I mean the rest of the press.

President Nixon: Hmm. [snorts] I don't know.

Mitchell: I think they'll understand how far they have gone.

President Nixon: Yeah, well, my God. They're going to understand, if there's no paper in the country that's for us, we're going to fight it. [chuckling] OK. Thanks, John.

Mitchell: We've got a good judge on it, Murray Gurfein, who is--”

President Nixon: Oh, yeah.

Mitchell: Tom Dewey's counsel up there.2

President Nixon: I know him well. Smart as hell.

Mitchell: Yeah, and he's new, and he's appreciative, so . . . 3

President Nixon: [Chuckles.] Good.

Mitchell: We ought to work out.

President Nixon: Good.


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. 111--“113. (↑)

2 Gurfein had been assistant district attorney to New York DA Tom Dewey. Time, 8 May 1940, --œRacketeer Scalise.-- Dewey went on to become governor of New York and two-time Republican presidental nominee. (↑)

3 Nixon had appointed Gurfein to the federal bench. (↑)

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