Tuesday, June 15, 1971 - 6:44pm - 6:47pm
Richard Nixon, William Rogers
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.

White House Operator: Secretary [of State William P.] Rogers, sir.

William Rogers: Yeah, hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: You had a long day?

Rogers: [chuckling] Sort of.

President Nixon: Boy, I started at 8:00 with the congressmen, and I've been going like a--”

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: --”chicken with my head cut off. But I wanted to tell you--”I just got a chance to go over the press thing. I just think you couldn't have done it better. And I think what was particularly effective was what you said about the fact that some foreign governments have raised questions about the security of their own cables, and that sort of thing.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: Because goddamn it, it's true.

Rogers: Right.

President Nixon: How can we--”how can they--”they wonder if we just allow a wholesale publication--”a declassification, I should say. Did you know that the documents with regard to Pearl Harbor have not been declassified yet?

Rogers: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Hell, no.

Rogers: Isn't that something.

President Nixon: You know, and this thing is--”we can talk about somebody placing themselves above the law and all that. But on this statement thing, my feeling is that first, I cannot say anything, I feel--”

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: --”because it's in the courts. I think you can solely from a--”as a, you know--”

Rogers: Sure.

President Nixon: --”a foreign--”can you--”don't you think so?

Rogers: Sure, I'll be glad to say anything that'd be helpful.

President Nixon: Well, that's right. Tonight, could I ask one thing? I don't know how they got the seating arrangement, but I really about talked myself out with [West German Chancellor Willy] Brandt, I think. And maybe I think I'll try to--”when we talk, we'll engage the three of us. We'll just sit and, you know, talk around him. I don't know whether you're on his right or left or however.

Rogers: OK. I'll try to do the talking.

Nixon chuckles.

[Rogers: [chuckling] I ran out of stuff to talk to him about, too, you know?

President Nixon: You know, I know, it's just, the only subject left is Vietnam, and I--”

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: He'll want to talk about that tonight, so we'll--”

Rogers chuckles.

President Nixon: --”talk to him a little about Vietnam.

Rogers: You know, I was just looking at television. The picture came over pretty good on television.

President Nixon: Oh, did it? Good.

Rogers: [Unclear], but the--”damn it, they never carry the good things. I said when they talked about this thing, the McNamara papers, I said that I was not going to get involved in passing judgment on it.2 I said we've got other things to do. We're trying to get this nation out of war.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Rogers: I said we--”what I would hope, and when President Nixon leaves office, we can have a study made of how we got the United States out of Vietnam.

President Nixon: Good.

Rogers: And--”

President Nixon: Also, as I say, basically this is a family quarrel, we--”

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: And I think the papers could well be called the Kennedy-Johnson Papers, is what they are, you know.

Rogers: That's right.

President Nixon: Not the McNamara, basically. It's [former Defense Secretary Robert S.] McNamara and [former Defense Secretary Clark M.] Clifford.

Rogers: Yeah. That's right.

President Nixon: And I've told the boys here, --œjust call them Kennedy-Johnson,-- you know.

Rogers: That's good. It's really a shameful, shameful performance.

President Nixon: I just can't really see how the Times could do it. Incidentally, George Hearst told [White House Counsel] Bob Finch, you know, they are the Times--”

Rogers: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: --”syndicate in California.3 And he made the decision there not to print it. Because he--”

Rogers: Yeah.

President Nixon: --”he considered it not in the national interests. I thought it would be interesting. I told the boys to check around with the other Times clients to see how many of them might have done the same thing.

Rogers: Yeah, that's interesting.

President Nixon: Because that's very damn good of old George to--”not to do that.

Rogers: Yeah. I hope this judge we got in New York is all right. He granted a temporary injunction, I mean a preliminary--”

President Nixon: Do you know who it is?

Rogers: Yeah, his name is Murray Gurfein. I know him well.

President Nixon: Dewey's man, yeah. 4

Rogers: He used to be in the office with me.

President Nixon: We just appointed him.

Rogers: I know it, but he's also pretty . . .

President Nixon: Liberal?

Rogers: A little liberal, and he's, I'm sure he would like to cultivate the Times, so he'll have [clears throat]--”

President Nixon: Well, he also may be thinking of going up, too.

Rogers: Yes.

President Nixon: And he damn well better act well.

Rogers chuckles.

President Nixon: OK.

Rogers: All right. See you later, Mr. President.

President Nixon: Bye.

Rogers: Thank you.


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. 113--“115. (↑)

2 Rogers refers to the Pentagon Papers as the McNamara Papers, after former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, who commissioned the study of Vietnam decision-making. (↑)

3 Nixon mistakenly refers to Hearst Newspapers Editor in Chief William Randolph Hearst Jr. by the name of his grandfather. (↑)

4 Gurfein had been assistant district attorney to New York DA Tom Dewey. Time, 8 May 1940, --œRacketeer Scalise.-- Dewey, the future governor of New York and two-time Republican presidental nominee, played a leading role in national Republican politics. (↑)

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