005-127

Date: 
Thursday, June 17, 1971 - 9:29pm - 9:35pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
Location: 
White House Telephone
Listen: 


President Nixon: Yeah?

H.R. --œBob-- Haldeman: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Well, I was wondering how the news came out tonight on TV. Do you know?1

Haldeman: No, I don't have that [unclear].

President Nixon: That's all right.

Haldeman: I didn't see any of them. If I can get it and give you call back.

President Nixon: No, no. I called [White House Press Secretary Ronald L.] Ziegler. He's out. That's all right. I'll get it in the morning. But we'll check it out then. I still don't have [Chief Domestic Policy Adviser] John [Ehrlichman]'s stuff yet.2 Apparently, they're still working on it. I'll look at it in the morning and see what he suggests.

Haldeman: [Unclear.] Did you get a report back on--”

President Nixon: [Former President Lyndon B.] Johnson.

Haldeman: --”Johnson?

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah. I've talked to [White House Political Operative Charles W.] Colson and also to [National Security Adviser] Henry [Kissinger] and so forth. They're going to talk about it at the staff meeting in the morning. Give me a recommendation after the staff meeting. Perhaps it may be that John is waiting for that before he gives me the recommendation as to what to say. But that's all right. I'm not going to say too much, you know.

Haldeman: No.

President Nixon: [Unclear] something. So it's a tough question as to know how much to say anyway, you know what I mean? It's one of those things where you can jump in and hit the thing. But we're . . .

Haldeman: Did he raise the thought with you of reading it?

President Nixon: Not yet, no. But he's--”

Haldeman: Because we were discussing it later this evening that--”

President Nixon: [Unclear.] If he wants anything done, Bob, I've got to see it. That's the problem.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: It's now 9:30, 9:35. It's not here yet. But what's he want me to do, read a statement to them on television?

Haldeman: Well, it's a question of whether on television or not, but to read it rather than just--”

President Nixon: Well, I won't read it. I'll just issue it then. I'd prefer to issue it rather than read it. I think that's much better. I mean, reading it is not a good idea. I mean, I don't think that's particularly effective to read something on that. It's just not good at all. I mean, if he wants to issue--”if we want to issue a statement, that's fine. But let me put it this way: If I read something before a group like that, then it elevates it to the standpoint of a presidential statement and all that sort of thing.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: I'd just rather just low-key it and just issue the goddamn thing and let them run it, and then I'll just talk about the domestic things. But that's my view. No, I don't want to sit up there and talk about revenue sharing and welfare and the rest and say, --œNow, I want to read you a statement about the New York Times problem, you know about this whole thing that has arised . . . arisen.--3 We get into this--” we're falling into that too often, I think. Because you say well, because it's the easiest thing, just to read something, you know. And it just takes too much away from getting it across to the people. Well, for example, I'm sure that [White House Aide Egil] Bud [Krogh, Jr.] and the rest would rather that I'd read that thing on drugs today.

Haldeman: No, I don't think so.

President Nixon: But that isn't the way to do it. I mean, I made the point better by talking for a couple of minutes and--”

Haldeman: Oh, yeah. No I don't think anybody--”

President Nixon: Don't you think so?

Haldeman: Absolutely. I don't think anybody had any question on that.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: The argument for reading this, I think, was because it involves the legal case and all that [unclear].

President Nixon: Because it involves the legal case then the thing to do is to issue it and not read it then. You know what I mean? I just don't like to sit up there and read something. What the hell good does it do to read it? It's a statement, but just issue a presidential statement on it. That is, I'm not sure anything should be done anyway. What's he got? Is it just too long? Is that the problem?

Haldeman: I'm not sure.

President Nixon: Could be. Yeah.

Haldeman: I don't know. It was. That was--”

President Nixon: That was the problem earlier, I noticed.

Haldeman: [Unclear] to try to boil it down.

President Nixon: I know you said--”what'd you say? They had four pages. That'd be ten minutes. Well, that's too long.

Haldeman: Make the points and still . . .

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, I'm afraid, Bob, it's too legalistic from the way I've heard about it so far. It's, you know, getting into all the legalisms, and that isn't going to sell anybody. I don't think anybody gives one damn about the legalisms.

Haldeman: No, that's absolutely right, and . . .

President Nixon: That isn't, Bob, the point for me to make.

Haldeman: Right. Well that--”

President Nixon: If I'm going to do anything, I've got to go on and make the point, --œLook, this isn't any of our doing. This is the . . . but I have to protect, I have to do this because it involves the ability to conduct the presidency and to conduct foreign policy.-- And that--”[Unclear] I really don't think it lends itself to reading, because of that reason. If we get into all the legalisms, well the law has been passed, and the law has been violated and all that sort of thing.

Haldeman: Well, that's what they're trying to get away--”

President Nixon: Well, I--”

Haldeman: Actually, there wasn't much of that in it.

President Nixon: There wasn't?

Haldeman: There was some long words and they made more of a case than they . . .

President Nixon: Yeah. Sure. Yeah. Well, I'll take a look at it in the morning. Fine.

NARA Excision

Category: Personal Returnable
Duration: 27s

President Nixon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. So that takes care of that one.

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: And that's . . . everything's fine. Well, I'll take a look at it in the morning, but when you're in your staff meeting, I just don't, I mean, I'll either do one thing or the other. I'll either issue a statement or I'm going to ad lib something very brief. That's my opinion at the present time. If they want--”

Haldeman: OK.

President Nixon: If it's so long that it has to be read, then we'll issue it. But I'm not going to stand there. I see nothing to be gained by reading to a bunch of editors a statement on this. That just doesn't sound right to me. It doesn't feel right. Because then I'm getting too much into the legalisms. OK.

Haldeman: OK, good.

 

1 Nixon had issued a statement on the problem of illegal drugs. (↑)

2 Nixon was awaiting material from Ehrlichman to use during his appearance in Rochester the next day. (↑)

3 Nixon refers to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, a Top Secret Defense Department study of decision making on the Vietnam War. (↑)

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