Wednesday, June 23, 1971 - 3:16pm - 3:18pm
Richard Nixon, John Stennis
White House Telephone

White House Operator: I have Senator [John C.] Stennis [D-Mississippi].

President Nixon: Hello.

Operator: [Unclear] Stennis.

President Nixon: Hello.

John C. Stennis: Hello, Mr. President.

President Nixon: John, I didn't want to bother you, but I--”

Stennis: No . . .

President Nixon: --”don't want this day to go by without telling you I am really proud of the fight you've been putting up down there and--”1

Stennis: Well . . .

President Nixon: And by golly, in the end it's going to come out all right.

Stennis: Well--”

President Nixon: Well, I'm afraid--”the only thing I'm afraid is that the vote might be interpreted by--”let me say there are some very sensitive talks going on now.

Stennis: Yes, yes.

President Nixon: Very sensitive, I can assure you.

Stennis: Yes.

President Nixon: Now, if they break down, it'll be because of the vote, and we're going to have to put the blame there. But I don't want to do that.

Stennis: No.

President Nixon: But if it does, we're going to have to do it.

Stennis: Yeah.

President Nixon: But boy, you and your people have done a marvelous job, and I just appreciate it.

Stennis: Well, I wouldn't blame you for putting the blame where it belongs. I'm mighty sorry about that thing yesterday.

President Nixon: Oh, well.

Stennis: The thing had built up. I think this Pentagon Paper stuff is gradually undermining us a little.

President Nixon: Sure, sure. Well that's too--”

Stennis: And you did a marvelous job all these weeks there, because you did hold the dikes until yesterday, and--”

President Nixon: [Laughs.]

Stennis: That was the mildest thing they had in sight.

President Nixon: Sure, it was pretty mild. That's right.

Stennis: Yeah.

President Nixon: And we'll just go ahead and do what's right, and in the end, we'll be judged on how it's coming out. And it's coming out all right.

Stennis: Well, I'm doing what I do, because I think you're trying hard--”

President Nixon: Right.

Stennis: --”and going to battle for us, and we've always be free to talk to each other [unclear] anybody.

President Nixon: You bet your life. Now on these [Pentagon] papers, you know I agreed with the leadership, and I told--”for your information, probably you've already heard--”I told Mike that I thought that the chairman of the committee should be you if--”because I think frankly you can preside over the thing if they have a Select Committee.2

Stennis: Yeah. Yeah.

President Nixon: You know, it's like [the late Senator Richard] Russell [D-Georgia] did the other one. You need a guy who's a judge and not some damn advocate like [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William] Fulbright [D-Arkansas].

Stennis: Yeah.

President Nixon: OK? [Laughs.]

Stennis: Well, I hope that works out, and I just don't know what'll be done.

President Nixon: Yeah, well.

Stennis: I just don't know.

President Nixon: Just pick a good man if you don't do it. OK?

Stennis: Well, thank you.

President Nixon: All right.

Stennis: You're mighty nice, and I appreciate your call, too.

President Nixon: Fine.


1 Nixon refers to Stennis's opposition to legislation that had passed the Senate the day before requiring the President to withdraw from Vietnam in nine months if the North released American prisoners of war. (↑)

2 Nixon refers to possible congressional hearings on the Pentagon Papers. (↑)

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