Tuesday, June 15, 1971 - 9:56am - 10:37am
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
Oval Office

President Nixon: [a011:21] This is a very bad situation. This guy is a radical that did it. A radical, we think. Radical left-wing—

H.R. “Bob” Haldeman: [Daniel] Ellsberg?

President Nixon: [Unclear] No, we don’t know who the hell he is. But maybe it’s him. Or maybe it’s [Leslie] Gelb. One of the two. Either is a radical. So he takes out papers and does it—now goddamn it, [pounding desk] somebody’s got to go to jail on that. Somebody’s got to go to jail for it. That’s all there is to it. And our people here just can’t, however they think about the war, can’t go saying, well, we’re doing this and that. We’ve got to fight it just like hell.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Ha. It really is a tough one. But I think . . . [John] Mitchell wanted to do it, I said, ‘Fine. Go.’

President Nixon: [a15:06] But, Bob, we’re doing the right [unclear] just got—I’m convinced that, you know, the more you think of the situation, I think the more you just have to—you have to fight. The Times thing just really convinced me that we’re up against, I mean, as [National Security Adviser] Henry [A. Kissinger] said, it’s a conspiracy, Bob. What do you think? Don’t you agree?

Haldeman: It’s absolutely clear. Look at the timing that they put that thing in. [Unclear.]

President Nixon: [New York Times Reporter] Neil Sheehan is a vicious anti-war type, sure, we’re all against it, but goddamn it, if they’re gonna go to this length, we’re gonna fight with everything we’ve got. And I—I’m just—we just take some chances. I’m sorry we got rid of [Tom Charles] Huston. Wish we had a few more like him around here. [Sighs.] Ha.

Haldeman: [a15:53] This whole thing sure vindicates Huston’s suspicions. The papers he was concerned about are not these, so—

President Nixon: Oh, is that right? They’re out, too. Let’s subpoena those.

Haldeman: Yeah. [a16:05]

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