See if his phone is bugged or something

Date: 
Monday, March 20, 1972 - 2:50pm - 3:38pm
Participants: 
Richard Nixon, Bob Haldeman
Location: 
Oval Office
Listen: 


Extracted from Conversation 689-005.

Earlier that day, President Nixon had visited New York and attended several events designed to focus on the theme of the administration’s “total war” on drug addiction. He had returned to Washington at 1:35 P.M.1

President Nixon: Otherwise, Ron’s [Ziegler] up there now, and he, when [unclear] the election committee [unclear] problem for them. But if it’s here in the White House he’s got to answer it, doesn’t he?

Bob Haldeman: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Boy, he’s a good soldier, you know. He’s smart as hell, too. He knows exactly what questions these sons-of-bitches will ask.

Pause.
 
Haldeman: Well, talk to him.

Pause.

President Nixon: Maybe I’m wrong. But do you have a better answer?

Haldeman: No, just except that you route it through here, and that’s—

President Nixon: All right.

Haldeman: Because if you move it over there, [unclear] is compensated. What he’s doing he can’t use the White House  [unclear]. If you do it in the White House [unclear] one thing [unclear] and then you have to use private funding to do what we’re now doing at government expense.

President Nixon: Oh, you can still use it.

Scraping of chairs and extraneous room noise.

President Nixon:
[Unclear] and see if his phone is bugged or something. Could you do that?

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: See—I’m concerned about that [unclear] but I—that damn [Walter] Annenberg-[Arthur] Watson sttory is a—has to be from the inside [unclear].2

  • 1. James M. Markham, “President Calls for ‘Total War’ on U.S. Addiction,” New York Times, 21 March 1972, p.1.
  • 2. In referring to Walter Annenberg and Arthur Watson, Nixon is presumably correcting himself having momentarily confused the two. Both were ambassadors; Annenberg was the Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Watson was the Ambassador to France. At the time of this conversation, Watson was the subject of a minor scandal based on information that could plausibly have been leaked from within the administration. Washington Post columnist Jack Anderson had accused Watson of getting “gloriously drunk” and inappropriate behavior on a plane flight from London to Washington on 9 March. Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho) had called for an investigation of reports that The topic was considered particularly delicate because Watson was playing a central role in negotiations in Paris with the Chinese. Jack Anderson, “Ambassador Watson’s Playboy Ways,” Washington Post, 16 March 1972, p.A1; “Sen. Church Seeks Probe of U.S. Envoy,” Washington Post, 18 March 1972, p.A4. Several days later, Secretary of State William Rogers conceded that some of the allegations about the incident were correct. Murray Marder, “Allegation on Watson Conceded,” Washington Post, 23 March 1972, p.A3.

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