Saturday, November 18, 1972 - 12:32pm - 12:44pm
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
White House Telephone

President Nixon: Yeah.

White House Operator: Ready with Mr. [H.R. “Bob”] Haldeman, sir. On the line.

H.R. (Bob) Haldeman: Hello.

President Nixon: Hello.

Haldeman: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: What’s the report?

Haldeman: Well, I just got back. Spent an hour and a half with him [William Rogers].

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: And [coughs] had a—he’s going to stay on. He completely accepts all of the—

President Nixon: Conditions.

Haldeman: —conditions, understands them, that we’ll go ahead with reorganization, that you will make the decision on all appointments, as we’re doing in all departments, that promotions in the Foreign Service and any activity there has got to be based on loyalty, and I hit the [Charles W.] Yost thing hard.1

President Nixon: Good.

Haldeman: That we’ve got to shift to working within the system, that we’ve got to get out of the President going through the agonizing role of being the referee in all this stuff, and that you’ve got to agree to work that out, and it’s got to be done, and he bought that. And that we have a clear understanding that the departure is June 1 or sooner. And he said, “Absolutely,” that—he said, “I just took June 1 out of the air and it may be that it would be much better to go in May or even April.” But . . .

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: In any event, that he said, “I feel strongly I should go by June 1 because I don’t want to get started on the European Security Conference, because a new secretary should do that.”

President Nixon: Right. And also, it doesn’t give the new secretary—the thing we’ve got to think: We can’t ask a guy to take over on the job for, you know, he’s got to have his four years. That’s the other thing.

Haldeman: Yeah. Well, he’s—I think—you know, after thinking it all over, he—I hit him pretty hard on all this stuff. I said that it was kind of a surprise to go through the thing that we went through there because the understanding, the thought that you had had and I certainly had, was that Bill intended to leave.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: That there was no intention of anybody firing him; it was a matter of confirming what we thought was the plan.

President Nixon: That’s right.

Haldeman: And he said, “Well, I did. It’s not a question of that at all. It’s just timing.”

President Nixon: Right. OK.

Haldeman: “And I didn’t want to look like I was being fired, and . . . .”

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: And then he goes into all of this stuff of how—you know, the usual—the same stuff he went through with you. The loyal foreign service . . .

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: All of that. But—

President Nixon: But you cracked him on Yost?

Haldeman: [chuckling] I sure did. And of course, he doesn’t blame it. He mitigates it by that whole [former Counselor to the President Daniel P. “Pat”] Moynihan flap and all, you know, when he was—

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: —[unclear] and said, “Yost”—

President Nixon: Yeah, but Yost is—

Haldeman: —”if he had gone on the right grounds he wouldn’t have done this.”

President Nixon: No, but Yost was disloyal before that.

Haldeman: Well, I said, “Bill,” that, “you know, the guy didn’t change his thinking as a result of that, and, you know, that sure, that probably aggravated the situation, but it didn’t create it.”

President Nixon: Good.

Haldeman: And—

President Nixon: Good.

Haldeman: —he agreed with that.

President Nixon: All right. Well . . .

Haldeman: I did—I hit him hard on how rough it had been for you to—in some of these things where you’ve had to, on top of making the decisions and all, to get into a refereeing of a sparring match between him and [National Security Adviser] Henry [A. Kissinger] and that you just couldn’t perpetuate something that’s going to work that way. And he came back with the, “You know, I understand that, but it’s hard to work with Henry, because he lies all the time.” Which is true.

President Nixon: Very true.

Haldeman: Henry admits that.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: And . . .

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: Then he went through some specific names and—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: —and ideas and stuff. But he’s—

President Nixon: Incidentally, I’ve, sort of in my own mind, come around to the view that we’ll definitely make the shift from . . . to put a few of [Secretary of Defense Melvin R.] Laird’s ideas of putting HEW, [Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Elliot L.] Richardson over to [Secretary of] Defense, and we’re going to have to really, you know, sell that to the committees on that. But I don’t think they can object too much to that.

Haldeman: Well, especially with [Deputy Secretary of Defense William P.] Clements [Jr.] there.

President Nixon: Right. Right. And putting [Office of Management and Budget Director Caspar W.] Cap [Weinberger] in the other one. I think Cap is going to really enjoy the other one.

Haldeman: HEW?

President Nixon: Yeah, sure.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: And he’s more of my view. That’s all there is to it. And on Defense, I’ll run the damn thing.

Haldeman: Well—

President Nixon: OK. Anything further on the [White House political operative Charles W.] Colson matter?2

Haldeman: Nope.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Haldeman: Nope, I haven’t talked to him.

President Nixon: With your conversation with [former Treasury Secretary John B.] Connally though, Connally was—was he very hard on it or thought we could do it either way? Or—

Haldeman: No. No. He wasn’t hard on it, but he was very, very positive. He just said, “Of course that’s what you should do.”

President Nixon: Good.

Haldeman: But he didn’t really see any—and I made the Colson case.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Haldeman: He said, “Well, that’s”—he said, “That”—he just sort of dismissed out of hand. He said, “Well, that just, you know, it isn’t going to be a problem, and—”

President Nixon: What’s he think about the business of the loyalty, I mean, to a fellow, you know? We do have that problem, you know. Loyalty to Colson and so forth.

Haldeman: Well, he thinks you’re doing the right thing by moving him out.

President Nixon: Because he thinks—

Haldeman: That you’re not damaging the loyalty.

President Nixon: Because he thinks he sees a possibility that Colson is going to be a lightning rod for—

Haldeman: Yeah, and his point, though, is that even if he isn’t, this is the time for him to do it. You’re doing the right thing, and that’ll be obvious to him a little later. Keeping him in for four or six months isn’t going to—is going to deteriorate his position, not improve it.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: And even Colson, in a sense, recognizes that when he makes the point that if he stays in, he’s got to be promoted and moved over and all that sort of stuff, which really isn’t realistic. You’re then in a really untenable position, I think.

President Nixon: It’s out of the question because it doesn’t fit into the whole scheme of the reorganization either.

Haldeman: Well, that’s right. If that’s the decision, then the only way to handle it with Colson—and let me take the heat on it—is—and he’ll do it.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: But it’s got to be done on a just a straight, hard-line basis. The—all the arguments have been thought through, weighed carefully. There are obvious merits to both sides, and so on. On balance, the decision clearly comes down that—

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: —for everybody’s interest, the way to do it is to—

President Nixon: And just make it—

Haldeman: —to do it—

President Nixon: —and also say that his interests require it. Despite what he says, that we—that the President’s concern, when you raise it with him, is this: I don’t want to have to turn my back on him at a later time.

Haldeman: Right.

President Nixon: And that’s really the case. That is, that there is a chance—I don’t—it may be one of five, but that’s a hell of a big, big chance. Right?

Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: Now it can be done in the right way and we can have the proper relationship, and that I would appreciate his finding the men for us that we need. Because we do—

Haldeman: Sure, then I’ll tell him—

President Nixon: —we do need his eye for that.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: And we’ll count on him to make the recommendations and to set it up.

Haldeman: [Unclear]—

President Nixon: You see, and in a sense, that gives him—he can—by setting it up, it gives him the stroke over it. Also tell Colson I’m very intrigued with the idea of [Construction Workers Union President Peter J.] Brennan for, say, Transportation or something.

Haldeman: OK.

President Nixon: You know, a labor guy—

Haldeman: Yeah. Yeah.

President Nixon: —in another position. I think Transportation is the only one that will work, though. Don’t you think so?

Haldeman: It really is. Yeah. There’s not much . . . He can’t realistically do HUD [Housing and Urban Development]. And you can’t—

President Nixon: No, no, no, no, no. It’s too big.

Haldeman: —and you can’t do Interior because it doesn’t fit that.

President Nixon: Right. No other position, is there?

Haldeman: That’s really it. Transportation is it.

President Nixon: It’s a good thing that he’s . . .

Haldeman: See whether we can’t work that.

President Nixon: Some people say he’s not qualified for it. What do you think of that?

Haldeman: I think what you say is that we’re going on the basis of people that are generally qualified. You could say Richardson’s not qualified for Defense also.

President Nixon: But he’s—

Haldeman: Because he’s never been in the [unclear]—

President Nixon: —a very capable man.

Haldeman: You’re putting men in who can do the job, and they’ll build the qualifications.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: The credentials. They have the qualifications, they just don’t have the credentials.

President Nixon: Tell Colson—run that by Colson, if you would, fairly soon. I’d like for you to get at it—

Haldeman: OK.

President Nixon: —you know, say, “Look,” you know, and that gives him a chance, and we’ll let him offer the job in effect, too.

Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: And that if he wants to take it, but he’s got to be sure that [Seafarers International Union President] Paul Hall will take it. You know—

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: —because that’s Maritime. OK?

Haldeman: Yeah. Well—

President Nixon: Well, Henry says he’s having some more problems with [South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van] Thieu. He’s kicking up his heels and—

Haldeman: Oh, really?

President Nixon: —according to the line from Bunker and so forth and wants to renegotiate this and that and more, and a hell of a lot of other things. And I told Henry, “Well, just go right ahead to Paris.” Get the very best deal he could, and then we’re just going to have to, in my opinion, then say to Thieu, “This is it. You don’t want to go? Fine. Then we’ll make our own deal, and you’ll have to paddle your own canoe.” It’s tough, but don’t you think that’s what we have to do?

Haldeman: I don’t see what else you can do, now.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: Because . . . and—

President Nixon: Well, it’s a good deal. That’s the point. The only thing is, that what—the big thing we have here is that if Thieu doesn’t go—of course, it poisons the agreement to an extent, and so forth and so on, but that then we have completed Vietnamization. We have made a deal with the others. We’re getting out and—

Haldeman: Turn it over to him.

President Nixon: —South Vietnam is strong enough to defend itself. And now it’s up to South Vietnam.

Haldeman: And if he collapses, then there we are.

President Nixon: I don’t think he’ll collapse.

Haldeman: [Could] ride that out anyway.

President Nixon: Well, he will certainly collapse if he plays this dog-in-the-manger thing. And on that, because the Congress is damn well not going to appropriate the money for it.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: That’s what it comes down to.

Haldeman: And we’ve told him that.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, we’re going to tell him that again.


NARA Excision

Category: Deed of gift-Privacy
Duration: 6s

Haldeman: I wondered whether you were—you’re going to stay down tonight, then?

President Nixon: I’m going to stay down tonight, and—

Haldeman: Good.

President Nixon: —go over—and then go back up tomorrow at about, oh, perhaps, tomorrow afternoon around 4:00.

Haldeman: OK. Well, I was planning to come up later on tomorrow evening.

President Nixon: Fine.

Haldeman: If that’s OK?

President Nixon: No problem. I—

Haldeman: And then—

President Nixon: —I’ll just go up tomorrow [unclear]—

Haldeman: —we’ll start cracking them through—

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: —again on Monday.

President Nixon: Right. I talked to [White House Counsel] Len Garment a moment ago and asked him to come up tomorrow about 5:00. I thought we’d have—be open by then. I wanted to have a chat with Len.

Haldeman: Oh, good. OK.

President Nixon: Good. So put him on the list.

Haldeman: All right.

President Nixon: OK.

Haldeman: He’s—you asked him to come Sunday or Monday?

President Nixon: Monday.

Haldeman: Monday.

President Nixon: Five, yeah.

Haldeman: OK. Good.

President Nixon: All right. Nothing else of interest at the moment, huh?

Haldeman: No, no. I’m planning to do [International Economic Affairs Adviser Peter M.] Flanigan on Monday and [White House Communications Director Herbert G.] Klein on Tuesday.

President Nixon: Right. Up there?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Well, then they should come in to see me [unclear].

Haldeman: And I think, I—well, I got to thinking about it. First, I said they shouldn’t [coughs]. I think they should because that’s—

President Nixon: That’s right.

Haldeman: —you might as well get all this crap over with.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: And if you—if they don’t come in and see you, then you’re going to have to do it later, which means it’s hanging on your head.

President Nixon: That’s right.

Haldeman: I think it’s better to do it, wrap it up—

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: —get the trauma over with and . . .

President Nixon: With Flanigan, it really isn’t—we don’t really have anything to offer him, have we?

Haldeman: Nope.

President Nixon: I mean, because we really don’t think he should stay—well, [Council on International Economic Policy] CIEP, but under [Treasury Secretary George P.] Shultz.

Haldeman: Well, did you talk to Shultz about that?

President Nixon: No.

Haldeman: OK, I’ll check him on that.

President Nixon: Well, if he wants, he could do that. But that’s what we’re going to do, if he wants to stay under those circumstances. There’s no problem of his staying, in my view, in the White House.

Haldeman: In that role.

President Nixon: In that role.

Haldeman: But he’s got to get out of his personnel-type roles—

President Nixon: Person—

Haldeman: —and his agency-type roles.

President Nixon: Personnel and agency thing we’re putting all over to [future Office of Management and Budget Director Roy L.] Ash.

Haldeman: [Unclear]—

President Nixon: Right?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: And we’ve got—and that—isn’t that true? And—

Haldeman: Well, the agencies are divided up in different places. The regulatory ones we’re putting through the—through [White House Counsel] John Dean.

President Nixon: Right.

Haldeman: So that they’re non-politicized, but—

President Nixon: We’re going to get it out of the political thing, right. But Pete’s got to understand they don’t have CIEP alone but that to kind of realize that it’s a different deal now.

Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: And we’d be glad to offer that, but no Cabinet thing. OK?

Haldeman: Yep.

President Nixon: Fine, but I don’t see—is he—I see no problem having him stay in if he’ll stay in under those circumstances.

Haldeman: Right.

President Nixon: Now, does that change his title? No, you leave it the same.

Haldeman: I think you have to leave it the same. You can’t—

President Nixon: Leave it the same.

Haldeman: —you could change it but I don’t think he can.

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, we can leave the same. Fine. OK.

Haldeman: OK.

President Nixon: Bye.

Haldeman: Very good.


1 Charles W. Yost, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1969 to 1971, had criticized Nixon’s Vietnam rhetoric after resigning. (↑)

2 Nixon is referring to Colson’s departure from the administration. (↑)

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