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THE NIXON/GANNON INTERVIEWS

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Transcript: Richard Nixon/Frank Gannon Interview, June 10, 1983 [Day 7 of 9]

interviewer: Frank Gannon
interviewee: Richard Nixon
producer: Ailes Communications, INC.
date: June 10, 1983
minutes: approximately 194
extent: ca. 272kb
summary: This interview, comprising four video tapes, or approximately 3 hours, 14 minutes, is the seventh in a series of taped interviews with former president Nixon. The focus of the conversation is Watergate. Among related topics discussed are wiretaps and taping systems in the White House, campaign ethics, the press, particularly Woodward and Bernstein, Nixon's relationship with the media, his reluctance to display emotion in public, his last days as president, his decision to resign and his resignation, and how he will be viewed by history.
repository: Walter J. Brown Media Archives, University of Georgia Libraries (Main Library)
collection: Richard Nixon Interviews
permissions: Contact Media Archives.

Day Seven, Tape one of four, LINE FEED #1, 6-10-83, ETI Reel #48
June 10, 1983

Day 7, Tape 1
00:01:51
[Frank Gannon]

What was your reception in Egypt like?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:01:55
[Richard Nixon]

Well, when I arrived at the airport, I was really somewhat disappointed, because I had been told before that we were--could expect a very warm reception. As we got to the top of the ramp and looked down, it reminded me of Peking and Moscow--no people there, just the V.I.P.s, a very good hon--honor guard, the usual red carpet, Sadat standing down below to welcome us. He was very friendly and courteous and so forth, and a--as we got into a big open car, I--I rather wondered why he had insisted on that, because our Secret Service didn't want to have an open car because of security reasons. But he wanted an open car, because there were no people. So we got in the car and we began to move out of the airport onto the main highway. And as we moved onto the highway, it was like hitting a tidal wave. It was just a sea of humanity surged around us, people by the thousands, shouting, and they were saying, "Long live Nixon! Long live Sadat! We trust Nixon! Egyptian-American friendship!" Over and over again the shouts came. And the crowd was, by all accounts, one of the biggest, certainly, that I'd ever seen, and certainly one of the most enthusiastic. The only one approaching it in enthusiasm was the one in Warsaw in 1959--emotional, enthusiastic, and friendly.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:03:16
[Frank Gannon]

How much does a crowd mean, though? Can't you--isn't it possible in almost in any country to bring out a lot of people in one place at one time?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:03:22
[Richard Nixon]

No question about it whatever. They can keep them away or they can bring them out. But Sadat made a very interesting comment in that respect. After we arrived at the guest house, he said, "You know, you can always get people out, but you can't make them smile." And he said, "Those people were smiling." I noted, for example, as we were riding along, he tried to say something to me over the din of the crowd, and he kept pointing to his heart, a--and I was a little worried then because I had heard that he'd had a couple of small heart attacks, and I wondered if he was suffering pain. And then I finally heard what he said. He said, "This is from the heart. They trust you. They love you. They are so happy you are here."

Day 7, Tape 1
00:04:03
[Frank Gannon]

Some of the signs over the road said, "We trust Nixon," and the American press particularly said that the--a lot of the trip was planned because of the d--intended domestic impact, because of Watergate. How did you read the signs "We trust Nixon?"

Day 7, Tape 1
00:04:18
[Richard Nixon]

Well, the signs had nothing to do with Watergate. They had to do with what the Egyptians felt about me and the policies that I had instituted after the war in 1973. They felt that after a long period, six years, of no communication between the United States and Egypt--or no relations, I should say--that we were again friends. They knew that I was pro-Israeli, because we had saved Israel in 1973 with the airlift, but they knew that I was not anti-Egyptian--on the contrary, that I thought it was possible and also necessary to be friends with the Israelis and also friends with the Egyptians and the Arabs. And they meant that they trusted me as one who would be fair, something that they had not had, they thought, in any U.S. administration for some time.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:04
[Frank Gannon]

One of the events during this summit was a long train ride to Alexandria, where for several hours you and he stood in an open car waving at people, which I think drove both security forces a little crazy.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:18
[Richard Nixon]

Well, as a matter of fact, it was a three-hour train ride.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:19
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.] We've got to pick up that question, Frank, your--I think your clipboard must have hit your microphone or something. [Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:26
[Richard Nixon]

Heh.

[Offscreen voice]

Let's just do a pickup on Frank. One, you get a tight shot on Frank. Three seconds, Frank, and you can do your question over, please.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:36
[Frank Gannon]

One of the parts of that trip was a--a long, several-hour ride, train ride, to Alexandria in an open train, which I think drove both security forces a little crazy.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:05:49
[Richard Nixon]

Well, the train ride, of course, was one of the highlights. I should say that the estimates of crowds from the airport into the guest house at Cairo was over a million. That was by press that was not particularly interested in seeing a large crowd be--coming out. They grew and grew all the way along the way, as we went to the pyramids--went there and came back. And then I really think the top was the train ride, and the welcome also in Alexandria which followed it. That very day, over three-and-a-half million people, by conservative estimates, were there at the train stations, along the sidings and so forth, and of course, in Alexandria itself. Actually what we rode on was a flatbed c--car. They didn't have any kind of an open car, as you have for a parade in an automobile. And so we stood there in the flatbed car, and we had to stand there, because the people were along the side waving and shouting and so forth. It was a little difficult for me, because I had had this phlebitis attack in Salzburg, and after standing for three hours, when I got to the guest house, I had to have somebody help pull my f--shoe off, because my ankle was swollen so. But, believe me, it was worth it. I didn't feel any pain while we were there noticing the crowds, and, of course, responding to them.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:07
[Frank Gannon]

It was--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:08
[Richard Nixon]

There was--there was a rather--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:09
[Frank Gannon]

Let's star--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:10
[Richard Nixon]

It's--

[Frank Gannon]

You want to start that again without any interrupting?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:12
[Richard Nixon]

Yeah. Incidentally, there was a rather eerie event there. As we were going along, there was a place where the highway ran parallel to the train track, and here was a hearse going along, keeping right up with the train. And I had a thought in the back of my mind. I wondered if some way it had leaked out, because I had warned Haig and the others--I said, "Don't tell anybody I've had this phlebitis attack." I wondered if it had leaked out and they had the hearse there, thinking that something might happen to me. But then I checked with his Secret Service and ours, and they said what had happened was they had the hearse there because on that same track they had had a few assassinations about two weeks before. So it was a rather dicey trip, but it turned out all right.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:07:56
[Frank Gannon]

Did you ever feel that you were in danger, that your life was being endangered by what you were doing on that trip? Even if you didn't feel pain, did you--did you feel that by extending yourself the way you did that the phlebitis might take you at any time?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:08:08
[Richard Nixon]

No, not really. I've always been very stoical [sic], very fatalistic about danger, whether it's the possibility of somebody shooting me or the possibility of having a heart attack or something of that sort. If it will happen, it will happen. The thing to do is to go on and do the best you can. People think it's a little stupid, and perhaps it is, but there's nothing you can do about it. So I would also say that those who constantly worry about--"Somebody's going to attack me," or "Maybe I'm going to exert myself, I have a physical condition"--they only make it worse. When you worry, you bring it on. Don't worry. What will happen will happen.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:08:48
[Frank Gannon]

There are people who think that you've made a pact with the devil and--and plan to outlive us all. I--A, is that true? B, do you--do you think about death?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:09:00
[Richard Nixon]

No, I don't think about death. As far as outliving people, I--I don't want to outlive everybody. I would like to outlive a few of my enemies, and I think that worries them a bit.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:09:11
[Frank Gannon]

What was--what was tea at--at Sadat's palace in Alexandria like?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:09:17
[Richard Nixon]

Well, that tea was very interesting because it was such a contrast to what Sadat had shown me as we left Cairo. Cairo is a huge city, and it has some of the worst slums in the world. And as we drove through the slum areas--you know, railroad tracks there, as they do in this country, they go through the worst parts of town--as we drove through it, he said, "I want you to see the worst as well as the best of our country." And then--so when we got to Cairo there, at his palace there, out on a lawn on an afternoon we had British high tea. Believe me, it was more British than the British--the liveried servants, the quiet, very civilized conversation, low tones--everything was done just right. But I thought an ominous thought at that point. I thought that--of the tremendous contrast between the wealth that was there, displayed there, and the slums that I had seen. And I also felt at that time that it was very important that in our programs toward Egypt--and I felt it then, I feel it even more today--that rather than concentrating so much on military assistance, there should be more economic assistance. It's one of the poorest countries in the world. They need assistance, and we should help them.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:10:34
[Frank Gannon]

In reading what you wrote about that, something appealed greatly to me. You said it was the--at that tea was served the most exquisite and extensive collection of pastries that you'd ever seen.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:10:47
[Richard Nixon]

When we think of tea in this country, unless we've been to Britain, we think of a--of a tea bag, which makes a most horrible brew, incidentally. It isn't done with class or style or what-have-you. But in Britain, tea is really an extra meal, and you have all sorts of cakes and cookies and pastries and so forth, and set out so well--i--it's really very, very high living. And I must say, I have seen it in Karachi, where they are more British than the British, I've seen it in Sydney, Australia, and also in Auckland, New Zealand, where they're more British than the British, but, believe me, nothing to equal what I saw in Cairo. Incidentally, I think I should say that the welcome in Egypt, I think, was due to three things. First, what we have already touched upon, the fact that they felt that I was fair, that they could trust me to be fair. And second, they thought I was a friend. They want to be friends with Americans. They didn't like the Russians. They wanted to be friends with Americans. Third, because they wanted peace, and--and, as Sadat said to me, "They are aware--our people are--that you have worked for peace, not only with us and in this area, but with the Soviet Union, with China," and so forth. But there was another factor. I don't think there's any question but those millions we saw, over six-and-a-half million in those three days in Egypt, realized the United States was a rich country, and they s--thought that, possibly d--that good relations with the U.S. would bring a better economic life for themselves. They probably thought I was carrying a good bag of money.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:12:32
[Frank Gannon]

Ten or a dozen years from now, when one of your grandchildren, Alexander or Christopher or Jennie, is old enough and asks you, "Granddad, what was Watergate?" how will you answer?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:12:48
[Richard Nixon]

Well, it will depend, first, on what they're learned in school, whether I will have to disabuse them of what they may have learned there or start afresh. If I were to start afresh, it would be, I s--think, somewhat along this line. Watergate was a botched-up attempt to break in and to bug the Democratic National Committee. When I say it was botched up, I am referring to several things. One, I could never understand why anybody would want to bug a national committee. I know national committees. There's nothing in the Republican National Committee worth knowing. You go to the Campaign Committee, and I'm sure the same thing is true of the Democratic National Committee. The second was the way that it is done. I remember reading about it when the report first came out, when I was in Miami, and I saw the Miami Herald, and I read about six men wearing surgical rubber gloves who had been caught trying to bug the Democratic National Committee. And I instantly thought, "Six men doing the job that one professional could do?" I also was mystified by the fact that it was later indicated that the C.I.A. had advance knowledge of the break-in. They never told me. The Democratic Committee had ad--advance knowledge of the fact that a break-in was to occur, and Jack Anderson, the columnist, had advance knowledge. As a matter of fact, it was so clumsily done that I would have to say that a pretty good case could be made, as some have made it, that it was deliberately botched-up, that they wanted to get caught. So much for that. And so I would also say Watergate was illegal, and that it was wrong, and that it was--very, very stupid thing to do. But whatever the stupidity of Watergate, the original break-in, or attempt to break in, I should say, which failed, was that was exceeded by our reaction to it. It was stupidity at its very highest. Looking back, I don't understand why it happened that way. I think I do understand, but the reasons were apparently that the people on our White House staff and in the committee, with perhaps the best of intentions, felt that it was very important not to allow this particular break-in to be escalated into a way that it would affect so-called "higher-ups." A--and so, consequently, they tried to contain it. Now, there was no reason to be concerned about it affecting a higher-up. After all, that wasn't going to affect the election. We were leading McGovern, who was going to be the Democratic candidate, by a margin of two to one when that occurred. We were going to win going away anyway, because I wa--just come back from the great triumph of the Moscow summit. And, of course, we were making progress in ending the war in Vietnam. But, nevertheless, they felt that. And so, as a result, they tried to come up with various schemes to contain it, to keep it from touching people higher up. And we didn’t concentrate on doing what we should have done, to clean it up right then when we could've. After the election, now, of course there was even less excuse for not doing something about it. My notes and diaries made when we were at Camp David when I was trying to bring the war to [sic] Vietnam to an end, to reorganize the government, prepare the--the inaugural speech, to select new members of the Cabinet, my notes indicated that over and over again I said, "Let's get a report on this thing. Let's clean it up, because the election is over now." But nothing was done. And then we simply compounded those failures. We even considered giving clemency to those that had done it so that they wouldn't talk about those higher up. We didn't do it, but we considered it. We talked about it. We even considered, as the infamous t--or notorious tape of March twenty-first, 1973, indicated, considering playing--considered playing-- paying blackmail. We didn't do it. We decided not to, as that tape also disclosed. But, nevertheless, we talked about it. And the problem was that all of that was, of course, exacerbated by the fact that what we talked about, even though we didn't do it, was on tape. And so what happened was that the way we handled it--and we're responsible for it--the way we handled it took what was basically a misdemeanor, a--a break-in in which nobody was hurt, and made it the crime of the century--I must say, with the assist o--of the media and the assist of our very, may I say, intelligent and ruthless Democratic opponents.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:17:33
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think people should have been shocked or surprised or appalled, as people were, that in the Oval Office, or in the Office of the President, whichever of your offices it was--that you even considered paying blackmail?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:17:49
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes. I think they would be surprised. They would not be surprised if they had studied politics generally. Tha--they wouldn't have been surprised if there would be a discussion of that, because, let's face it, many administrations have had problems, and in--instead of allowing those problems to become politically negative, they try to avoid it. I mean, Lyndon Johnson's handling of the Bobby Baker case, for example, was certainly no attempt to bring all the facts out into the open. I think one--another point that should be made about the--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:30
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.] Excuse me. One second. I need to make a quick stop here.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:39
[Richard Nixon]

We're gonna stop--

[Offscreen voice]

Keep [unintelligible], please.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:40
[Richard Nixon]

[Unintelligible] look at the watch now, huh?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:42
[Frank Gannon]

Yes, now you can.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:47
[Offscreen voice]

Sorry, gentlemen. I'll be right with you, okay?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:50
[Offscreen voice]

Excuse me, sir, your right eye is tearing a little in the corner. [Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:53
[Richard Nixon]

Is it pulling it off?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:54
[Offscreen voice]

Yes, in the corner there?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:55
[Richard Nixon]

Right here?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:56
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:57
[Richard Nixon]

[Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:58
[Offscreen voice]

Right in this corner.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:18:59
[Richard Nixon]

Oh.

[Offscreen voice]

The other corner.

[Richard Nixon]

Okay.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:01
[Offscreen voice]

--you just keep it more in this direction, I think that's what they want.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:03
[Richard Nixon]

Well, it m--must be from that--

[Frank Gannon]

Yeah.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:05
[Offscreen voice]

It could possibly be.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:06
[Richard Nixon]

Yeah.

[Offscreen voice]

You might have s--a little bit of that hay fever.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:08
[Richard Nixon]

I got a little of that hay fever. Oh. Oh, it doesn't make any difference.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:12
[Offscreen voice]

[Inaudible.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:14
[Richard Nixon]

Well, thanks for putting the tears on.

[Action note: All three laugh.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:17
[Frank Gannon]

Yeah, where is it when we need it? This is too soon.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:20
[Richard Nixon]

I had a little sneezing spell when you put the powder on today, I forgot to mention.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:24
[Offscreen voice]

Okay.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:25
[Richard Nixon]

I'll just start out when we finish here.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:27
[Frank Gannon]

Are we going to pick up with the president?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:29
[Frank Gannon]

Yes.

[Offscreen voice]

Okay, well, come up.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:30
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible] asking a question.

[Offscreen voice]

I think--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:32
[Frank Gannon]

Or--no, I was asking--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:33
[Offscreen voice]

Just lean forward. I'll pull your coat down.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:35
[Offscreen voice]

Coat.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:37
[Offscreen voice]

Now lean back [unintelligible].

[Richard Nixon]

Mm-hmm.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:38
[Offscreen voice]

Okay, stand by, everybody. Ten seconds out, and we'll pick up on the [unintelligible]. Ray [unintelligible].

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:42
[Offscreen voice]

Yeah.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:43
[Offscreen voice]

The president--on the right temple--a hair. On his right side. See it?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:47
[Frank Gannon]

Lower down.

[Offscreen voice]

No, down lower.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:48
[Frank Gannon]

Right on the sideburn, yeah.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:51
[Offscreen voice]

That's it.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:52
[Richard Nixon]

I wonder if it's--

[Offscreen voice]

Ten seconds.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:53
[Richard Nixon]

--we really should try to have everything so perfect like this. I think it's sort of silly.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:58
[Offscreen voice]

Okay, let's--

[Action note: Sound of feedback.]

Day 7, Tape 1
00:19:59
[Richard Nixon]

They ready?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:20:02
[Frank Gannon]

Er--not yet. You going to start?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:20:04
[Richard Nixon]

You ready? Yeah.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:20:05
[Offscreen voice]

Take two seconds, Mr. President, and then start.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:20:08
[Richard Nixon]

One. When anyone would ask me what was Watergate, I think we should indicate, too, what it was not. No one was killed at Watergate. No one profited from Watergate, our scandal, as compared with the Teapot Dome scandal and the Bobby Baker scandal and the Truman [5-percenter IRS scandals] and the [Abscam scandals.] No election was affected or stolen by it, as some believe the election of 1960 was stolen. As a matter of fact, Watergate cost us votes. It didn't gain us any. I would say that what happened here was that because of the way we handled it, however, it allowed our opponents in the media and our opponents among the more partisan Democrats to exploit the issue a--and to indicate to the public at large that the whole administration was shot through with corruption, that we were repressive, that we were frightening people, that we were bugging people by the hundreds, by the thousands, that we were engaging in, quote, "dirty tricks" at every opportunity. And so much of that, of course, was untrue.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:21:26
[Frank Gannon]

When you say no one was killed at Watergate, what--what do you mean by that?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:21:31
[Richard Nixon]

I mean by that, very simply, that when you think of any kind of an incident of this sort, a so-called "high crime," you think of somebody dy--losing his life or somebody losing a great deal of money or something of that sort. This was not in that category. I--it was a political shenanigan--wrong, illegal, and very stupidly handled, true.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:21:54
[Frank Gannon]

Are you aware of the bumper strips th--referring to Chappaquiddick--"No one died at Watergate"?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:21:59
[Richard Nixon]

No, as a matter of--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:00
[Frank Gannon]

"No one drowned at Watergate."

[Richard Nixon]

I--I've seen those bumper strippers. "No--no one"--those bumper strips--"No one drowned at Watergate." And I guess the implication there is to point out this is in contrast to the Teddy Kennedy situation as far as Chappaquiddick was concerned and what some think was a cover-up.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:20
[Frank Gannon]

How--do you think it was a cover-up?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:23
[Richard Nixon]

I would say that I don't know what the facts are, and that would lead--make a prima facie case that it could have been.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:30
[Frank Gannon]

You're aware that the--the judge in the case said that Senator Kennedy couldn't have been telling the truth?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:35
[Richard Nixon]

Yes. No--no reason to judge him at this point. I mean, he's--he's paid more of a price that anybody will guess, and as far as I'm concerned that's all in the past.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:22:49
[Frank Gannon]

How extensive--you say that--that the dirty tricks were not done at every opportunity. How extensive, in on--a ten-point dirty tricks scale, looking at politics over the last thirty years, do you think that the Nixon Campaign 1972 dirty tricks were?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:23:04
[Richard Nixon]

I'd say about one or two. I recall, for example--I've been the victim of dirty tricks, including bugging i--in 1962. There was no question about that. There's a very famous character, a real professional, delightful fellow, as a matter of fact, named Dick Tuck, and he used to sabotage our campaign schedules and send people the wrong way and disrupt our meetings and so forth. He did it in 1962, in that campaign, and he did it again in--of course, he had done it als--he--no--strike that. He did it in 1960 in the presidential campaign, and then he did it in spades in 1962, when I was running against Pat Brown. But the media being, shall we say, not particularly in my corner, just called that fun and games. And then when Segretti, our so-called "dirty tricks man," whom I frankly had never had the opportunity of even meeting--when he tried to practice some of these things on our Democratic opponents, they became high crimes and misdemeanors. It's just a double standard. This sort of thing happens in campaigns. I don't particularly like it, I--particularly when it happens to me, and I don't like to see that be interjected in what should be partic--ticularly a high-level presidential campaign. But it's going to happen because people are human.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:24:29
[Frank Gannon]

You say you were bugged in 1962. Who bugged you?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:24:33
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, the opposition.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:24:35
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think that Lyndon Johnson bugged your campaign in 1968?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:24:40
[Richard Nixon]

We had reports to that effect, as a matter of fact, directly from J. Edgar Hoover. So I would assume that that was the case.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:24:47
[Frank Gannon]

How--looking back now, how--how do you tell yourself that somebody as wary, as canny, as experienced as you got dragged into the Watergate cover-up the way--the way that you did?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:25:05
[Richard Nixon]

Well, th--there's no excuse for anybody, as you say, and I can't make the self-serving statement that I am so canny and experienced and all that sort of thing, although I have lived quite a bit. There's no excuse for what happened, but there could be a reason. I just made a basic mistake at the beginning, the beginning of that year, that campaign year. You know, I have always been criticized throughout my political career for running my own campaigns. I ran my own campaign in '46. I did it in '50 when I was elected to the Senate. I did it in '52, and '56. Oh, I had campaign assistance, but everybody knew that I was watching every jot and tittle of everything all the way along the line--'68 also. I was constantly th--our campaign people thought, interfering with how it was going, but I was watching everything. Came 1972, and here I was going to China in 1972, we were negotiating an arms control agreement with Russia, we were trying to end the war in Vietnam, and so forth. And I decided, "Well, this is one time I'm not going to get involved in the campaign. I'm going to delegate it all." That was a mistake. I--I should have watched it. If I had been watching it, believe me, we wouldn't have ever bugged that--but if we had done it, it would have been more successful. But we would never have done it--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:26:24
[Frank Gannon]

There's--

[Richard Nixon]

--and never handle it that way afterwards, because, as I say, that compounded it. It was not the initional [sic] break-in that caused the problem. It was the failure to move on it as we should, and I would say that, had I been running it, and I was responsible, then I would have known where to turn. But since I wasn't running it, I then had the problem of feeling--and I think, in retrospect, I'd probably do it again--that I should stand by my friends. I don't know who was responsible, but I was bound to stand by them and try to avoid it moving higher up.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:27:01
[Frank Gannon]

There has never been any evidence that you knew about the plans for the break-in in advance. In fact, there's significant evidence that you didn't know. Why do you think, though, that from the very earliest of the first polls taken after the break-in--public opinion polls--I think something--in the first one something like forty-six percent of the people felt that you had known about it in advance and that it was just normal kinds of politics?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:27:22
[Richard Nixon]

I think for the very reason that I've indicated. It was pretty generally known among the people that I ran a tight ship. It was pretty generally known, because criticism had been made of the fact that I constantly ran my own campaigns, that I was in control. Bob Haldeman wrote, as a matter of fact, that anyo--that "anybody who watched the Nixon administration would figure nothing like that's going to happen without his knowing about it," although he does not say that I knew about it.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:27:50
[Frank Gannon]

Given--

[Richard Nixon]

Of course, I didn't.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:27:52
[Frank Gannon]

Given the way that you've described the development of the events, the kind of information you were get [sic] in the kind of time frame that you were getting it, would you do the same things again? Would you make the same decisions again?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:28:07
[Richard Nixon]

No, in retrospect, what I would have done at the beginning was to sit down, I think, with all of our campaign people and say, "Now look here. We're going to win this election. I--if we're going to have to take some heat about this thing, let's take it. Now, I want to get all the facts and get it out," rather than continuing to do what I did do. You see, the problem was that in that period--we're talking in the period around June twentieth or the balance of the year--I wasn't thinking that much about Watergate. Oh, there's a lot of--on--on the tapes, but only an infinitesimal percentage of what is on tape is about that. My main concern was ending that war. We were negotiating. We were sending messages to c--to continue our various initiatives, to keep them alive and healthy, with China, with Russia, and the rest, and, frankly, I just didn't concentrate. That was the mistake. I should have remembered, however, something that Winston Churchill wrote. I--I read quite a bit and read quite a bit before I ever became president. And he said something that every leader in the future should have in mind. He said it has been his observation that the great leaders do the big things well, but they tend to stumble on the little things. You can't do all the little things, but, believe me, in this case a little thing became a big thing, and, of course, destroyed us.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:29:36
[Frank Gannon]

One of the theories postulated is that one of the reasons that you didn't sit down with all the campaign people and say, "What happened?" and "Let's get this out," is that you were afraid to ask that very question, because you were afraid that it would lead--that the answer would involve or implicate people who were your friends and long-time associates.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:29:57
[Richard Nixon]

I'd have to say that was true. I--I'm--I think that subconsciously I didn't want to know. If, for example, one of my t--top people, long-time associates, because he didn't have control of the situation, had made a stupid mistake, I didn't want them to become involved. Very tough thing--I--I remember, for example, speaking of books and so forth, the--another quotation that is of considerable interest. It was one that--about Gladstone, who, of course, was a great Liberal prime minister of Britain in the nineteenth century, and he made the comment to the effect that the first requisite of a good prime minister is to be a good butcher. I wasn't, frankly, a good enough butcher, I must say. I--I recall very well when Henry Petersen, who took over the investigation of the Watergate issue, after the second term began--he came in to see me, and he laid before me some accusations that had been made against Haldeman and Ehrlichman, a--and I said, "On the other hand"--I said, "However, those aren't proved." I said, "I--I can't fire somebody simply because of the appearance of guilt." And he responded, he said, "Mr. President, that speaks very well of you as a man. It does not speak well of you as a president." And so I would say, perhaps, and I'm not referring to Haldeman or Ehrlichman, but anybody else in a campaign organization--that's a decision that every president at times has to confront--is he going to be human and compassionate or is he going to be ruthless and cold? I must say, looking back, I've got to admire Harry Truman in a way for the way he stood by his people even though he--they were political liabilities. It's a close call.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:31:01
[Frank Gannon]

Some of your critics think it was very ignoble of you when you wrote in your memoirs that Watergate wouldn't have happened without Martha Mitchell. What did you mean by that?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:32:14
[Richard Nixon]

John Mitchell is one of the ablest men in politics that I've ever known, and a very able lawyer, a--a very careful man. He's also a very honorable man. I can never imagine that John Mitchell would ever have approved the Watergate break-in, and, assuming he didn't approve it, would have allowed it to slip by through the cracks if he had been concentrating on the campaign. And whether that was ignoble or not, there was no question that Martha M--Mitchell had a problem, a very deep problem. Some thought it was just alcohol and drugs and so forth, but it--it was even more than that. She was emotionally unstable, a--and it just drove John Mitchell crazy. He couldn't concentrate on it at all, and that's why he resigned from the campaign committee shortly after Watergate had broke [sic].

Day 7, Tape 1
00:33:09
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think that the media exploited her instability?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:33:12
[Richard Nixon]

Shockingly. I've never forgiven them for it.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:33:18
[Richard Nixon]

Why did you bug yourself?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:33:21
[Action note: Nixon laughs.]

[Richard Nixon]

The amusing thing about that is that, had the tape system that we had been exposed apart from Watergate, nobody would have given it a second thought. I remember the headlines--"Nixon Bugged Himself." Well, as a matter of fact, what really, I must say, at first amused me and then it angered me, was to see the hypocritical, sanctimonious statements by people representing the Kennedy camp and the Johnson camp saying, oh, they had never had a taping system. They were horrified that there could ever have been a taping system in the White House. Now, come on, who are they kidding? Franklin Roosevelt, it's now revealed--he did taping. Ei--even Eisenhower did on selective cases. There are two hundred reels of tapes in the Kennedy library. There are thousands of hours of tapes in the Johnson library. Taping was done ostensibly--in my case it was done for the purpose of having it for the historical pur--record. And under the circumstances, then, when we said did we bug ourselves, it was for the historical record and not for any other purpose. I must say that, in Johnson's case, when I came in to the White House on that first day in, January twentieth, I saw this taping equipment around--it hadn't been removed--that he had put in. He had it not only in the Oval Office and also in the Cabinet Room, but also in the Reception Room where people who were to come in to see him were sitting, so that he could hear what they said about him before they came in to see him. Of course, we didn't install any in any places like that. We had it only in the Oval Office, in the Cabinet Room, and in the E.O.B., which were all recognized to be formal places. But I would say that the place that I was most surprised to find it--when I looked under the bed, just happened to, to--looking for my shoes, a couple of mornings later, and I found all the--a lot of--all the taping equipment right under the bed. He even had the bedroom taped. Incidentally, just so there won't be any improper in--connotation about that, Johnson often saw people in his bedroom. I saw him there the only time I went to the White House from the time I was vice president till I became president. Is--had a cup of coffee with him there after a Gridiron dinner.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:35:45
[Frank Gannon]

In your memoirs, you tell a story about Bobby Kennedy going in to see Johnson.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:35:53
[Richard Nixon]

Johnson had a practice of using his taping system in--in a very deliberate way. Let me explain the difference between his taping system and the one Kennedy had, and the one that Eisenhower hid--had, and ours. In their cases, it was manually operated. In other words, when they had somebody coming in that they wanted to make a record of, they turned the tape on. They didn't tell people, but they turned it on so that they'd have the record. In our case, it was voice-activated. Everything was taped, which, of course, was probably stupid, and yet perhaps a bit more honorable, because if you weren't going to tell the individual that he was being taped, far better for it to be done on a general basis rather than on a selective basis. Well, on this day Bobby Kennedy was scheduled to come in to see Johnson. This is the day that Johnson was going to get his revenge. Johnson didn't particularly like Jack Kennedy. He hated Bobby Kennedy. J. Edgar Hoover has told me that chapter and verse. And so here was his opportunity. After Bobby Kennedy had been so rough on him while Kennedy was president--Jack Kennedy was president--he was going to get back at him. He was going to have the pleasure of telling Bobby Kennedy that he, Johnson, was not going to support Bobby Kennedy for president. After the meeting was concluded, and apparently it was a pretty hairy confrontation, a--and Johnson called in the fellow that was running the taping system and says, "I want you to transcribe the tape." The fellow came back ashen-faced. He couldn't do it. It had been scrambled. And what had happened, apparently, they thought, was that Bobby Kennedy, who knew Johnson and also knew himself, had carried a little scrambling device in with him, and he put it on so that it scrambled the conversation.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:37:44
[Frank Gannon]

Why didn't you--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:37:45
[Richard Nixon]

Too bad we didn't have a scrambler for some of ours.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:37:48
[Frank Gannon]

Why didn't you burn them?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:37:52
[Richard Nixon]

I must have had several thousand letters on that since leaving office. It was stupid. Should have been burned, because a--at that particular point, once they were exposed, then they could not be used for historical purposes. They were going to be used for purposes that I did not think were appropriate. There were several reasons they weren't burned. First, when the taping system was disclosed, it was the wrong time. I was in the hospital with pneumonia, and I just couldn't make a tough decision like that. Second, I had bad advice, bad advice from well-intentioned lawyers who had the--sort of the cockeyed notion that I would be destroying evidence. But these tapes at that point hadn't been subpoenaed by anybody, and the best evidence were the individuals themselves who were there. But, on the other hand, they listened to them. I--I think there was a third reason, however. I think that I felt that the tapes were probably an insurance against people who had participated in meetings and who, in the light of the Watergate thing, might go out and lie about what had been said. I had listened to the tapes involving John Dean on June fourth, and I felt that they were an insurance against that kind of per--of--of, shall we say, misrepresentation.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:39:11
[Frank Gannon]

So, looking back and balancing all this, if you knew then what you know now, can you say that--that you would have destroyed them?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:39:18
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes. I should have destroyed them.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:39:20
[Frank Gannon]

Still would have done it.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:39:21
[Richard Nixon]

It should have--they should have been destroyed, and they should have been destroyed for another reason. If I had thought--let's face it, i--i--if I had thought they revealed criminal activities, I would have been out of my mind not to destroy them. So I would have destroyed them not because I thought there were criminal activities on them, but because it was an invasion of the very purpose of the tapes, which were for historical purposes and not to hold people that had come into the president's office and talked freely to those words that they had spoken so many years before. That's just not right.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:39:59
[Frank Gannon]

You're the man who criticized Harry Truman for using phrases like "Give 'em hell," or using the word "damn" and said that he was a bad example to the youth of America. How do you reconcile that kind of position with the language, your language, that appeared on the White House tape, all the "expletives deleted"?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:40:20
[Richard Nixon]

Well, one thing that I would have preferred is to not have had that term "expletives deleted." That leaves an implication that probably they were worse than they were. They were bad enough as it was, and eventually, of course, everybody will know what it was, if they don't already know. The point that I should make is that, as far as profanity is concerned, I'm, I must admit, a bit old-fashioned. I never swear in public, in all of my public life, and I never swear in front of women. As a matter of fact, let me make an exception. On occasion, just in the family sometimes, I'll--"damn this" or something of that sort, and Mrs. Nixon really shapes me up right away. She says, "That's a bad example for the girls." And she's right. On the other hand, we all know, or I would say any sophisticated person knows, that profanity for many people is a way of blowing off steam. That doesn't make it right, but, on the other hand, it's done. And I would say that while the tapes show our profanity, that isn't the first time a few expletives haven't been hurled around the Oval Office. I was there when President Eisenhower was ranting a bit, as he had occasion to de--he--face would flush about "those moss-back Republicans," "those damn moss-back Republicans," and how they were holding back some of the programs that we wanted. Now, I met with Jack Kennedy right after the Bay of Pigs disaster, and, I m--mean, he knew all the four-letter words. And I didn't blame him one bit. I wa--I was--really appreciated the fact that he felt that I was a good enough friend that he could let his hair down. And I'm not going to indicate what he said. And, of course, L--Lyndon Johnson's earthy language, shall I say, was legendary. Mine was different. It was on tape and different from Johnson and Kennedy, because, as far as their tapes are concerned, they're safe in their libraries, and the expletives will be deleted. In my case, they will not be.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:42:21
[Frank Gannon]

So you will--you will be known warts and all?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:42:25
[Richard Nixon]

That's right. And I'm embarrassed by it, because it gives an indication that--I think of, basically, hypocrisy. But, on the other hand, I think that a public man does have a responsibility to set an example. I don't think he should swear in public. I don't believe that men should swear in mixed company. That's old-fashioned, I agree. But, on the other hand, I--I must say we're not going to be able to outlaw profanity in private among men, particularly when they've served in the armed ferv--services and particularly when they served with the Navy and Marine Corps, as I did. I heard all the words.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:43:03
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think there was, or could have been, a C.I.A. conspiracy to remove you from office?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:43:14
[Richard Nixon]

I don't know. I know many people think so. I would say that I've had it--found it difficult to understand why the C.I.A., which apparently had advance knowledge of the break-in, didn't inform me. I've found it difficult to understand how it could have been that at least two of those involved had C.I.A. connections and, nevertheless, that it was not brought to my attention as t--far--the break--break-in occurring. I must say, too, the C.I.A. had motive. It was no secret that I was dissatisfied with the C.I.A., with its reports and particularly with their appraisals of Soviet strength and our other problems around the world.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:44:02
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think they feared you?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:44:03
[Richard Nixon]

No question about it, and they had reason to. I was going to shape up that organization and the Defense Department--the whole government, for that matter--but particularly that one. At one occasion I said I thought we could cut a third of the people out of the C.I.A. and do a better job. I didn't want to weaken it, as unfortunately it was castrated in the post-Watergate era. I wanted to strengthen it. I wanted to get rid of some of the deadwood and so forth. And they knew it. So they had a motive. I'm not prepared to say whether there was a conspiracy or not. I would only say that it should make a fascinating study for an investigative reporter. He--he won't win any prizes by writing anything that would not be anti-Nixon, but, on the other hand, it would, perhaps, be historically interesting.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:44:53
[Frank Gannon]

If there was such a conspiracy, do you think that reporter would would ever live to write about it? Is it the kind of thing that will ever come out?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:45:00
[Richard Nixon]

I have a feeling that all of this talk that the C.I.A. is going to knock off those that will, shall we say, reveal some of their covert operations--those in this country--I think that's exaggerated. I think that may have been the case t--in times past--not now.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:45:21
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think that you had--do you think that you had control of the C.I.A. when you were president, that it was responsive to you, and that--that you knew what it was doing and that it--that it wasn't doing anything you didn't want it to do?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:45:36
[Richard Nixon]

I think the C.I.A. under Dick Helms tried to reflect what the president wanted. I know, for example, that there were no plots to assassinate a foreign leader while I was president. They knew that I would never have approved such a thing. My concern about the C.I.A. was basically its--its competence. I just thought that they had a lot of deadwood, a lot of the Georgetown types and so forth, that were holdovers from previous administrations, and I wanted to clean them out and strengthen it. And I'm sorry I didn't get that chance.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:46:10
[Frank Gannon]

In your memoirs, you refer to a--a conversation with John Connally early in 1974, when he told you that the Arizona--what he called "the Arizona Mafia" was out to get you. What do you think he meant by that?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:46:24
[Richard Nixon]

I think what he meant was that in addition to the understandable opposition of the Democrats, the partisan Democrats--not all, but the partisan Democrats--that I had better worry about my right flank as well. What he meant was that there were several Republicans who wanted me out of office and Ford in. Let me say, I know Ford was not one of those. I know that, because I know the man. He's an honorable man. He would never countenance it. However, I would well understand that some--not in a conspiratorial way--but that some might have felt that I was a liability, which probably I was at that point, politically--that I was a liability and that they'd be better off with Ford in and me out. And so, consequently, i--it is possible that Connally's report was correct. But I am not prepared to say. I just don't know.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:20
[Frank Gannon]

Why do you think it was called the Arizona Mafia?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:24
[Richard Nixon]

I don't know--possibly because the--the group was probably conservative-oriented, which would be surprisingly--you would think mostly, usually, it would be the liberals who would've wanted me out.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:34
[Frank Gannon]

You don't think it referred to Senator Goldwater--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:36
[Richard Nixon]

It--

[Frank Gannon]

--or to Congressman Rhodes?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:38
[Richard Nixon]

I would doubt that. I--I--I d--just don't know. As far as Goldwater was concerned, he, of course, denied that he had any part of that sort of thing.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:47:48
[Frank Gannon]

Do you have any sense that there was from the--say, the beginning of 1974, or earlier, a concerted effort to--if not to railroad you or if not to--to at least grease the skids? Henry Kissinger has written that one of the ironies of your selection of Ford, who wasn’t your first choice, was that while you thought because of his good relations with Congress he'd be able to make your case there, the opposite was the case. He was so acceptable to them and so unthreatening to them that by choosing him you almost made it inevitable that you would be replaced.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:48:20
[Richard Nixon]

I think Kissinger makes a very shrewd point. Usually he's the first to admit he is not a political expert, but in this case it is a shrewd observation. They felt certainly that they would be better off with Ford than with me. And that had, perhaps, something to do with it.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:48:38
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think there was plotting going on during--formal or informal--during the year?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:48:44
[Richard Nixon]

I think "plotting" is too strong a word, because everybody's going to interpret that in the most sinister way. I think what happened is it was simply a coalescence of forces. There were some Republicans that wanted me out because they thought I was a political liability. They could get along better with Ford than with me. There were some Democrats, partisan Democrats, that wanted me out because they wanted to reverse the situation, the result of the elections of 1972, in which they had suffered such a shattering defeat. And I think, under the circumstances, they all kind of ended up not working together in one huge sinister plot but each in parallel ways coming together and in the end, of course, bringing about the inevitable result.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:49:32
[Frank Gannon]

You were under such tremendous, enormous, emotional, physical, mental pressures during Watergate. A lot of people thought it would kill you. It would have killed a lot of people. Why do you think it didn't? Wh--how do you--why and how do you think you survived?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:49:51
[Richard Nixon]

Well, curiously enough, I've had a lot of practice. I've gone through some pretty tough crises--the Hiss case, when I fought the whole Washington establishment and the media, the fund, when everybody was--thought that I could not survive on the ticket, 1956, the attempt to keep me off of the ticket, two shattering defeats, one for the presidency and then one in 1962 for governor of California. Having been through all of that--that toughens your hide a bit. And as far as being able to survive this, I felt I was on the right side. I was sustained by what I thought was the right cause, and I must say, too, that I g--drew great strength from my family. The way they stood by me was really something very inspiring, very heart-warming.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:50:49
[Frank Gannon]

Was this pressure different in quality or quantity from these earlier pressures?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:50:54
[Richard Nixon]

Different certainly in quantity, because whatever the earlier pressures were, they finally ended. This was so intense for so long. And this, of course, reached enormous public attention. For example, Watergate for months on end led the three network programs--not one, not two, but all three, day after day after day. There were headlines in papers across the country, day after day after day. That takes its toll. But I stood up under it rather well, and I'm rather surprised that I'm still here.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:51:37
[Frank Gannon]

You've described all the things that--or some of the things that Watergate wasn't and described your--a number of the elements of your role in it. What do you think you were guilty of?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:51:56
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I was guilty of--not malfeasance--malfeasance means an intent to do something wrong, but misfeasance, failure to take wh--a situation like this and to deal with it effectively. L--let us understand what Watergate is not, because I think it's very important for us to realize that once the Watergate thing broke, then those in the media who had a vested interest in my being driven from office and our partisans on the other side immediately expanded that to indicate that corruption infected the whole administration. For example, it was a repressive administration, and they made a great deal out of the fact that there were wiretaps. Now, let's look at the wiretaps very objectively and very fairly. A lot of myths about it. One, that they were illegal. They were not illegal. Wiretapping without warrants was legal for every president up till 1972, and we discontinued it then when the Supreme Court said warrants would be required thereafter even though the president had ordered it for national security purposes. And every president since World War II had used wiretaps. Second myth--we were wiretapping our political opponents, we were wiretapping across the country--radical groups, and so forth and so on. A myth. Believe it or not, there were only a total of nineteen wiretaps--five newsmen who printed stories which had s--top-secret material in it [sic] and fourteen government officials who had had access to that same kind of material, or whom we thought had access. That was all there were. The purpose of the wiretaps was to avoid leaks of that sort in the future, to find out who was leaking. And, incidentally, that purpose was legitimate. I should point that that wasn't always the case. For example, during the Kennedy-Johnson administrations, Martin Luther King was wiretapped. Why? Because, as J. Edgar Hoover once said, he was wiretapped at th--apparently at the Willard Hotel because a sex orgy might have been going on there. They wanted, apparently, for reasons that I'm not aware of and I can't understand, to find a way to embarrass him. And speaking of newsmen, people think that that's the first time newsmen were wiretapped. I--I should remind them that there's a record on file o--of a reporter being wiretapped during the Kennedy administration because it was learned that he was going to write a book on Marilyn Monroe that might have derogatory comments in them [sic] about the Kennedys. Now, understand, I'm not saying this in condemnation of anything that others did. Maybe they had reasons that I am not aware of. I am simply saying--one, what we did was not illegal. Two, it was justified because it was very important to stop the leaks so that we could continue negotiations that led to the opening to China, that led to the settlements with the Soviet Union, and the ending of the war in Vietnam. And finally, I would say that as far as the wiretaps are concerned, the idea that this was a repressive administration simply doesn't add up. Now, of course, some ask, "What about the Plumbers?" Who were the Plumbers? Was this a big w--conspiracy of people flo--floating out across the country intimidating people and the rest? Four people for less than a year trying to plug leaks. It was a sort of a Keystone Kop operation. "Plumbers" is a pretty good name for it, and very ineffective, as it turned out, as were the wiretaps.

Day 7, Tape 1
00:55:50
[Frank Gannon]

Didn't the--the June twenty-third tape show that your involvement in Watergate went beyond sort of this--sort of a passive malfeasance, because on that tape you ordered Bob Haldeman to go to the C.I.A. and ke--to tell them to tell the F.B.I. to keep out of the Watergate investigation? Didn't that go over the edge and actually involve you?

Day 7, Tape 1
00:56:12
[Richard Nixon]

Well, let us understand how the June twenty-third tape came about, how that conversation--it had been long conversation [sic] about scheduling--

Day 7, Tape 1
00:56:20
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

The following text appears in the original transcript but does not appear on a tape. It has not been edited.

[Richard Nixon]

--about another trip that I was going to have to take and so forth. And at the very end, Bob Haldeman said that he had had a meeting with John Dean, that John Dean had come up with a scenario that might confront the Watergate investigation. He felt that it was important to contain it because it was getting into areas that might be embarrassing to us. He then went on to say that the F.B.I. that was conducting the investigation thought the C.I.A. was involved, as, of course, former C.I.A., at least, agents and operatives were involved, and that if the C.I.A. could let the F.B.I. know that they did not want the F.B.I. to continue an investigation that might expose some of their activities, that then the F.B.I. would draw back. I made a very stupid mistake. I said, "Fine--go ahead and do it. We’ve done some things for--

Day Seven, Tape two of four, LINE FEED #2, 6-10-83, ETI Reel #49
June 10, 1983

Day 7, Tape 2
00:00:58
[Action note: Screen goes black; no sound.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:01:03
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

[Richard Nixon]

--Helms. There's no reason why he shouldn't do something for us on this." But let us understand, as far as my motive was concerned, you just don't look at it in terms of words said at a time. You look at it in terms of what you did and what you did later. Just two weeks later, after this conversation, the director of the C.I.A., Pat Gray, called me on the phone. He said that he thought that some people on the White House staff, I think he said, were wounding me by their conduct. And then he went on to say that he had--was concerned about this contacting the C.I.A. I said, "Have you talked to them?" He said, "Yes." He said, "They say they're--they have no interest in suppressing or limiting the investigation." I said, "Fine. Go right ahead with your investigation." I didn't stop there. I called in Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and I said, "We cannot have a cover-up." I said, "I want to stop this. Be sure that the word gets out to everybody to continue." What I am saying here--yes, we considered the possibility, and I had hoped, for example, that the C.I.A. would find th--that they didn't want the investigation to go forward. But when I was informed that they were not concerned about its going f--f--forward, I didn't hesitate one bit.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:02:22
[Frank Gannon]

Isn't it true, though, that--that you--the information as it was presented to you and on which you made your decision was--that it was a political reason? That Dean was afraid that the money would be traced to the committee and that's why you approved calling in the C.I.A. in the first place, whatever the other C.I.A. involvements may or may not have been?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:02:38
[Richard Nixon]

It was primarily political, as it turned out. My recollection at a later point was of the conversation with Pat Gray, in which I said, "Go ahead with the investigation," and, consequently, that's why I left the impression, which was incorrect, but what I remembered at the time, that it was not political. It was primary [sic] political there, but, on the other hand, I would never have approved it unless there had been indications that the C.I.A. might be interested. So there was a subsidiary reason--lone as well.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:03:07
[Frank Gannon]

How--how--

[Richard Nixon]

I--I didn't tell--I didn't s--in effect, say, "Look--get the C.I.A. to get into this thing whether they're interested or not." I said, "If they are concerned, then of course the F.B.I. should not go forward."

Day 7, Tape 2
00:03:17
[Frank Gannon]

Even given that it was months later and a lot had intervened and that the Gray phone call did direct your--direct the conduct, how could you forget such a--a central thing, that the initial cause was political?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:03:31
[Richard Nixon]

It's difficult to understand, but--and again--no excuse that--perhaps, will explain it. I had a lot of things on my mind. I remembered it as well as I could, and, as a matter of fact, before I went public on that particular thing, I called Bob Haldeman on the phone, and I said, "Look. What do you remember about it?" And he remembered it eza--exactly as I did. Neither of us, of course, had refreshed our memories by l--listening to the tape.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:04:01
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think the country would be better off if the cover-up had succeeded and Watergate had never surfaced, or, at least, had never have gone as far as it did--led to your resignation?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:04:11
[Richard Nixon]

Ray Price, one of my biographers and my long-time speechwriter, and a very honorable man who would feel that any kind of a cover-up is wrong, morally, et cetera--believes that that's the case. I am not able, really, to be the best judge of that. Certainly I--I think that under the circumstances, from a personal standpoint, it would have best--been best that Watergate not be expanded to the point that it was. In other words, to have a misdemeanor become the crime of the century didn't make any sense, and to have s--people today talk about not the crime of Watergate but the crimes of Watergate simply didn't make sense. It was that, of course, that brought us down.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:05:03
[Frank Gannon]

People do think about, for example, in the crimes of Watergate, about your taxes--that you paid vir--little or no taxes during the years that you were president and were probably a paper millionaire.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:05:16
[Richard Nixon]

Well, just look at my presidency. Except for Harry Truman, I think I am the only president in this century who left the White House with his net worth less than when he came in. Now that would tend to knock down the thing that I had ba--profited from my service in the White House. There was a story, for example, that the--seventeen million dollars had been se--spent on my place in San Clemente and the one in Florida. I sold the place at the height of the market five years after I left office for two-and-a-half million dollars. And, as a matter of fact, what the--the G.S.A. had put in there reduced the value. I'll give you an example. Our--in California, gas heat is cheaper than electric heat. We had a gas heating system in it. The Secret Service thought that a gas heating system ran the risk of fire. They changed it to electric, a--and so it reduced the value. Enough of that. Coming back to the tax situation, that, of course, was a really low blow, a low blow because I was very scrupulous about my tax returns throughout my life. I--I--I majored in tax law when I was in law school. However, I, of course, didn't prepare my own tax returns. I left it to my staff people, who were supposed to be expert in the field. They made a mistake that was understandable. What happened was that I gave two million dollars worth of my vice-presidential papers--they were appraised at that--to the government. That was common. Johnson had advised that he had done it. He told me that. He suggested that I do it, and previous government officials had been doing it for years. It was a legitimate tax deduction. Then, in January--and then in 1969, at the end of the year, I signed a bill--I signed it--in which the Congress revoked that right to tax exemption. Now, as a matter of fact, at the time I signed that bill, I didn't have any feeling at all, and I wasn't doing it with relationship to my own gift of papers, because I had made my gift in March of that year. It had been delivered. My papers had been brought back down from Ne--New York and delivered to the government. So what happened? What happened is that our tax man felt that there had to be a deed to the papers. He wrote a deed out, he signed it himself, in my behalf, and dated it at the time that they were delivered. Now, lawyers do that on occasion. In this case, it was made to appear that this was all a fraud in order to avoid the payment of the taxes. So I paid the three hundred thousand dollars in taxes that I otherwise would have been able to take as a deduction, as Johnson and others had done previously. When I left office, intres--interestingly enough, my tax attorneys begged me to reopen the case. They said they would take it on a contingency, and they could get the s--the decision reversed. But I had agreed at that time, when the matter came up, to accept whatever the Joint Committee on Taxation would agree to, what they would recommend. They had recommended that I pay the tax, and I did. That happens.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:08:25
[Frank Gannon]

When people talk about Watergate, they also think about how your administration used the Internal Revenue Service to harass people and how you even had a--a written-down enemies list of--of opponents to go after and hurt.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:08:42
[Action note: One frame of color bars.]

[Richard Nixon]

I don't think, incidentally, that the thought is that I had a written-down enemies list. I think they said there was a--I think it's been claimed that there was an enemies list within the bowels of the administration, and so forth and so on.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:08:52
[Frank Gannon]

That John Dean had prepared.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:08:54
[Richard Nixon]

That John Dean had collected, whatever that might be. And I wouldn't be surprised. Every administration has its friends and its enemies. We always divide press, everybody else, up in those categories. You reward your friends and punish your enemies, if you can.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:09:07
[Frank Gannon]

Did you use the I.R.S. to do that?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:09:08
[Richard Nixon]

[Unintelligible.] Certainly not. As a matter of fact, what happened here was simply a natural reaction of anybody in that office. I got reports--complaints, as a matter of fact--from friends of John Wayne and Billy Graham that they were being harassed by the Internal Revenue Service on their tax returns, and they thought they were being harassed because they were my friends. Now, they didn't tell me that, but, you know, the word gets to me. When I learned this, I hit the ceiling. And so I said, "Get the word out, down to the I.R.S., that I want them to conduct field audits"--and that's the way--that's the term, the technical term they use--"of those who are our opponents if they're going to do our friends." And I suggested that one they ought to look into was Larry O'Brien, who had received very heavy fees from the Hughes organization. What happened was that the word went to the I.R.S. The I.R.S., as it turned out--is often the case--did nothing. They made a big hullabaloo about the fact that we had attempted to use the I.R.S. for political purposes. And then a f--months later, Don Alexander, the head of the I.R.S., put out a report saying the I.R.S. had not audited anybody for political purposes, not one. So, what I am say--saying here is that what I suggested was simply a reaction to what I thought was I.R.S. policy that was unfair. I wanted them to be even-handed on it, and I must say that I probably should have gone f--further in--if I wanted to be political, in view of what had happened to me, because I knew from an I.R.S. auditor in California that they got orders directly from Washington to audit my returns in 1961, when I was running for governor of California. That's the way it works.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:11:03
[Frank Gannon]

If you had had more control, would you have used it? Would you have used the I.R.S. to s--in--in sort of a tit-for-tat way? It had been done to you, and therefore--does--does that power go with the office?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:11:13
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, I would have been tempted. No. I--I don't want to indicate that I was simply going to turn the other way when an opportunity might present itself like that. But what I am saying here is this. We are charged with--we are charged in this Watergate period with enriching ourselves. We did not. We are charged with abusing the I.R.S. and abusing other people and using the I.R.S. for that purpose. We talked about it and so forth, but it did not happen. As far as this administration is concerned, oh, it isn't pure, but, on the other hand, it was one that w--that--that is being held to a different standard than previous administrations. I'm not suggesting that because it was done in the past that makes it right now. I--I don't take the line that--that one n--one right--well, what is it?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:12:07
[Frank Gannon]

Two wrongs make a right.

[Richard Nixon]

That two wrongs make a right, but I do say that two wrongs make two wrongs. I just want a single standard.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:12:15
[Frank Gannon]

Do you mean to say that when you were in the Oval Office talking to John Kennedy when he called you in to ask for your advice and your support at the time of the Bay of Pigs--that--that you knew he was pushing the audit of your income tax returns?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:12:30
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, I didn't know that he was pushing it. I assumed that he wasn't. No, I was assuming that was done by some of the very good political operatives that he had in his organization. No, I'm not sure that--I th--I doubt if he would do it. I doubt if he would do it. I think, however, he--he--he could play hardball. I don't think he would have minded a bit if an audit came up that was embarrassing to me. I--I know--know, for example, that one of the tapes which, incidentally, have come out since it's finally been revealed that the Kennedy people did tape, was a telephone call that he made to Pat Brown after Pat Brown beat me for governor. He wasn't interested in my s--political success, and I don't blame him one bit. I wouldn't have been either. He considered to--me to be one that almost beat him. He didn't want me to come back again.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:13:20
[Frank Gannon]

In China, you told Chou En-lai that you always learned more from your defeats than you did from your victories. What did you learn from Watergate?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:13:31
[Richard Nixon]

From Watergate, I think, first, a leader, much as he is interested in--as a matter of fact, obsessed by big issues, must not overlook the little issues that may become big. Second, once you have a problem, far better to deal with it quickly rather than to procrastinate, because a problem, if not dealt with quickly, is going to expand and become something not only different in size but different in kind, as was the case with Watergate. And third, I--I would say a leader in those cases where the whole White House itself, the presidency, is involved, sometimes it's necessary for him to put his own survival and survival of the institution above his personal loyalties. That's a tough one. The last one would be the hardest for me, and I think it'd be very hard for President Reagan, for example. He's a--one of his fine qualities is he--he's loyal to his friends.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:14:37
[Frank Gannon]

If, following the Gilbert and Sullivan line, "the punishment had fit the crime," what do you think would have been the proper--unless you think resignation was--what do you think would have been the proper punishment for what you did or the way you became involved in Watergate?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:14:56
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I don’t know as it serves any purpose even to speculate on that. There were some who suggested that a proper way to handle it would have been a resolution of censure by both houses of the Congress. But, on the other hand, that didn't happen.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:16
[Frank Gannon]

We've reached the end of our hour.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:25
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:30
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:47
[Action note: Sound begins.]

[Frank Gannon]

It's up--I would say ten minutes. It's up to you.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:48
[Richard Nixon]

Ten minutes is fine.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:49
[Frank Gannon]

Yeah.

[Offscreen voice]

Okay, we'll take ten minutes here--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:50
[Richard Nixon]

The movie.

[Offscreen voice]

--and come back--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:51
[Frank Gannon]

Yes.

[Offscreen voice]

--and do an hour.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:15:52
[Action note: Sound ends.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:19
[Action note: Apparent cut or splice.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:23
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:31
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:34
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:48
[Action note: Something happens.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:16:54
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:17:01
[Frank Gannon]

When you got back from the Middle East and from Russia in June of 1974, how did you see your position in terms of impeachment?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:17:13
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I guess, first, I saw it through the eyes of others. Things seemed to be better. The media seemed to be less vicious than usual, or--r--and some were even quite objective. Our own people in the Congress felt that the vote count was going fairly well, and the mood was simply better. But some way I didn't share that. I just had an intuition that beneath the surface things were not going that well, despite the fact that we had had good publicity out of the Middle East and fair publicity even out of the visit to the Soviet Union. And I guess I can put my finger on it in a couple of ways. You know, politicians--I guess like women, and--and women politicians particularly would have it--that we just have intuition, sixth sense. I remember so well in 1948 I campaigned around the country as a young congressman for the Dewey ticket. He was going to win by a landslide. Everybody said he was going to win. I just sensed it wasn't going right, and I remember telling a [sic] editorial meeting of the Kansas City Star about three weeks before that I didn't feel good about it. They thought I was crazy. Well--doesn’t show that I'm so smart, but I sensed it. In this case, I think I was worried for reasons. First, for the reverse reason that we were doing better. I knew that if the opposition felt we were doing better, they would panic. And by panicking, that meant bad news for us. They could not afford--I'm referring now to the partisan Democrats, who were out to get me, of course, and the media--they could not afford to fail now. Millions of dollars had been spent on the Watergate investigation. They had a vested interest in conviction. And so, under the circumstances, as they saw the w--news get better, they had to do more to bring me down. And then something had happened while I was in the Soviet Union. Here I was, negotiating with Brezhnev about arms control and missiles and the rest, and a story came out of Washington to the effect that Rodino, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had made a comment, which he didn't expect to be published, but which revealed something--in which he said that all twenty-seven members of the Judiciary Committee--the Democrats--were going to vote for impeachment. This is before the hearings were even held. And so that concerned me. I was concerned, too, by the fact that my political position, not being as strong as it was--that maybe there would be softness in the Republican ranks. But--but all of these things caused me to worry. And then another factor--I knew that with the opposition worrying, they'd put in their first team, and, believe me, they did. Carl Albert, the speaker of the House, was a very fine man. We'd come to Congress t--together. He was very bipartisan, supporting me on my--Vietnam and other issues and so forth. But he was not partisan enough, and so they gave the job to Tip O'Neill, who was the majority leader. Now, I've known every speaker since World War II, including Sam Rayburn, one of the great ones. I would say that Tip O'Neill is certainly one of the ablest, but, without question, he is the mowth [i.e., most?] ruthless and the most partisan speaker we have had in my lifetime. The only time he's bipartisan is when it will serve his partisan interest. He plays hardball. He doesn't know what a softball is. So, under the circumstances, when I heard that he was taking over shaping up the Democrats, I knew that we were in trouble. Those are the things that worried me before going to California. And yet, I must say, on the twelfth of July, just before taking off for California, we had a bill-signing ceremony in the Oval Office, and Jerry Ford came up to me afterwards, and he's usually not an overly optimistic type--although he's not the pessimistic type, either--but he said, "Look," he said, "we've got this thing made. We're going to win by over fifty votes in the House." And then Bryce Harlow, who was a real professional--served with Eisenhower, served with me as well--came up--said, "You've got it won, boss." Well, I felt pretty good, and yet, some way, it didn't feel right.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:21:32
[Offscreen voice]

Excuse me for interrupting. I'm sorry. I've got a key light problem on Frank. Can we correct it? Thirty seconds. Keep the tape rolling.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:21:43
[Offscreen voices]

[Inaudible.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:21:46
[Offscreen voice]

On the two-shot, he's just much darker than the president. We must've lost a key somewhere.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:21:53
[Action note: Nixon sighs.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:21:57
[Offscreen voice]

How about over near the [unintelligible] door [unintelligible]?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:22:01
[Offscreen voices]

[Inaudible.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:22:51
[Action note: Gannon exhales loudly.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:22:59
[Offscreen voice]

That's it. If we can freeze it there, we're in good shape.

[Offscreen voices]

[Inaudible.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:09
[Frank Gannon]

Can you--you had talked about the s--the microscope and the p--

[Action note: Sound ends.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:21
[Action note: Sound resumes.]

[Richard Nixon]

--dia thing?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:22
[Frank Gannon]

Yeah. We talked about--ask--that they--they thought they--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:22
[Offscreen voice]

Everybody back in position. [Unintelligible.] Get ready to go. [Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:25
[Richard Nixon]

Huh?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:26
[Frank Gannon]

They said that they--they thought they treated it like a microscope but in fact that treated it like a proctoscope.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:29
[Offscreen voice]

Okay, tape still rolling, and locked.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:33
[Offscreen voice]

Everybody in position. Is that ladder out of the way now?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:36
[Offscreen voice]

Yeah.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:37
[Offscreen voice]

Okay, Frank. Start on five-second countdown and cue Frank.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:42
[Richard Nixon]

That was a good line. That's your line.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:43
[Offscreen voice]

Here we go. Five.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:45
[Offscreen voice]

Four, three.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:23:49
[Frank Gannon]

You say that the--the opponents were the partisan Democrats and the media. It's easy to understand why the partisan Democrats were the opponents, but why were the media the opponents?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:24:01
[Richard Nixon]

Well, my fights with the media, of course, are legendary. It goes back a long time, from the time I started with the Hiss case, the fund crisis, coming back after defeat, when they wrote me off and af--read them off--I had read them off after 1962. So, consequently, it is sort of assumed that the media and I are not friends, that we're always adversaries. Now I think we've got to put that into context. First, it is not personal. I have some good personal friends in the media. It is not general. I--there are some people in the media that I respect, that I think are objective, single-standard-type reporters. But, on the other hand, I--I would have to say that the great majority of those in the media, in the Washington press corps, both television and print media, were against me. They have been in the past. They were before Watergate, and, of course, even more so during Watergate. Now, the reasons for that, I think, are several. One is I'm a conservative, and an effective conservative, in their view, and they are liberal. I'm speaking of those that are against me. The second reason goes to the war. We just totally disagreed on the war. I was insisting on and worked for peace with honor. And they wanted peace at any price. They didn't think that at that point we should even continue to try to get peace with honor. And then I think there was this subtle reason, the subtle reason that, in 1972, when the country was voting for me sixty-two percent, seventy-eight percent of the Washington media heavyweights were for McGovern. I had beaten them and beaten them very badly. They knew that after the election that I would th--owe them nothing but a good kick in the seat of the pants. I don't think they felt that I was going to repress them. But, on the other hand, they would like to see that verdict of 1972 reversed. And so what happened was along came Watergate. They had the big guns, but we passed them the ammunition, and they proceeded to shoot it right back at us. And I know that--I've talked to people in the media. You know, we do talk on occasion, and they say, "But it's the responsibility of the media to look at government generally, and particularly at the president, with a microscope." I don’t mind a microscope, but, boy, when they use a proctoscope, that's going too far.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:26:40
[Action note: Gannon laughs.]

You--you used the example--

[Action note: Gannon laughs again.]

You used the example of peace with honor versus peace at any price. A lot of the people in the media--a lot of people would say that that's a quintessential Nixonism, to--to equate the two as if the opposite of what you wanted, peace with honor, was peace with any price, which sounds sort of furtive and a bit--like appeasement, dishonorable--peace with honor as opposed to dishonor. Their argument would be that it was a--an unfortunate, unhappy war which was--was unwinnable, that our commitment was--was wrong, and that the honorable thing to do precisely was to cut our losses in a coherent way and pull out. They would say that that's a kind of devious setup on your part, and that--and that's one of the reasons, throughout your career, why they've opposed you. Do you see any of that?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:27:34
[Richard Nixon]

No. They're absolutely wrong, and history shows that they're wrong--what happened in Vietnam. They felt that we should bug out. I always knew that if we bugged out of Vietnam, if we failed to prevail there and the Communists came in--first, that it would be a disaster, that a bloodbath would come to all of Southeast Asia, and that's happened, and second, that it would be harmful to the United States in other parts of the world. And third, it would encourage the Soviet Union to engage in aggression in other places as well, and that's happened. So, I would say when I was for peace with honor, I--I meant by that give the South Vietnamese, which we did through the [Paris Peace Agreement,] a chance to survive on their own, but not to bug out simply because the war had become unpopular. I--I must say I--I respect their right to disagree with me, but on this I think that my position has been vindicated by what's happened.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:28:30
[Frank Gannon]

This isn't really a question of position, though. G--do you see that, in terminological terms, to say that you were for peace with honor implies that anybody who wasn't with you was somehow dishonorable, or for peace with dishonor, even if peace was a desirable end, and that this was the kind of thing that got their back up in dealing with you?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:28:49

[Richard Nixon]

Maybe it got their back up, but I--in my view, to let down an ally and to allow a bloodbath to occur, that was dishonor, and I repeat it right now.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:29:04
[Frank Gannon]

You flew to San Clemente in mid-July. What did you expect to do on that trip?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:29:13
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I thought we would have an opportunity on that trip to sort of catch our breath after the--the visit to the Soviet Union and the rather intense pressures that we'd been under. I knew, too, that the Judiciary Committee was going to begin its hearing shortly--its public hearings--and we had to be prepared for that. So, under the circumstances, I--it was a good time for us to take a rest and to look at things from afar in a more objective way.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:29:43
[Frank Gannon]

Getting back to the--what we were just talking about, the media, on a--on a--on one of my favorite ten-point scales, a ten-point bipartisan scale, h--how much would you say, in terms of the Democrats in Congress and the media, that there was a genuinely disinterested bipartisan element, or not even bipartisan--that they genuinely were--felt that Watergate was a serious abuse, that it needed to be investigated, and that it--that it--the best way was to investigate it--was through an impeachment proceeding. How much was there that pristine devotion to finding out what the president knew and when he knew it, and how much was partisan determination that it--that it had gone too far, and they had to get rid of you or otherwise they would suffer?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:30:29
[Richard Nixon]

It was a combination of both. Let me say I--I realize that there were some in the media and some in the Congress who felt that--for a variety of reasons, because they had disagreed with me in Vietnam, because they thought I was too strong in terms of what I was going to do in the second term--that they felt that it was very important to get me out of there. Let me unders--let me make it clear as to what--what--why they were concerned. I had not h--I had not held any punches back. I made it clear after the election that with the war out of the way, having run--having won by sixty-two percent, I had a mandate. I was going to reorganize the government. I--I was going to cut down on the bureaucrats. I was going to return more power to the states and the people. I was going to shape up the place. They knew that. The media knew it. The bureaucracy knew it. The elitists knew it. The establishment knew it. They didn't like it. And so, under the circumstances, I can understand why, whatever their devotion to being honorable and so forth are concerned, those partisan instincts might ha--might prevail. But, in fairness, of course there were some who weren't partisan at all. They just thought I should be out, because they thought I should never have been in.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:31:45
[Frank Gannon]

But if you had to guess a percentage of people who were in it for the partisan advantage or because they felt they had to get rid of you in order to justify themselves, as opposed to the people who genuinely thought it was an appalling thing and that you should be removed because of it--what would be the percentage in the media and the Congress?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:32:01
[Richard Nixon]

I would say that--that in--just lumping them all together, that in the media it was perhaps about seventy-five percent that just--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:32:12
[Frank Gannon]

Partisan.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:32:13
[Richard Nixon]

--welcomed the opportunity to get me out of there, about twenty-five percent who felt--had this pristine motive that you referred to. In the Congress, perhaps fifty-fifty.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:32:27
[Frank Gannon]

When did you learn that John Ehrlichman had been convicted for the Ellsberg break-in?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:32:33
[Richard Nixon]

On the flight to California. I--I remember it was a--a very shattering bit of news to get on that plane flight. Here Ehrlichman had been convicted, and I thought back as to how unfair life is, how terribly unfair. Here's Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel Ellsberg had illegally taken thousands of pages of documents, secret documents, from the Pentagon. He had turned them over to the New York Times. They were published in the New York Times, the so-called Pentagon Papers. As a result of their publication--I know that it encouraged the enemy, that it slowed down our negotiations to end the war and cost thousands of American lives. John Ehrlichman had the responsibility, along with those who worked with him, to attempt to expose this man, to see that he was brought to justice, but also to discourage others from doing likewise and to be sure that this man did not do something else in the future. Now, I--I could never understand why they thought that going into his psychiatrist's office would give them some information that would be useful. And yet that's--assuming that's debatable--but they did it certainly with--with the intention, probably, of seeing--of recognizing he had done something that was illegal. He had said he was going to do more, which he had, and we had to find out in order to do our job, which was to not only end the war but to carry on an effective foreign policy. And after all that, what happens? Here John Ehrlichman's going to prison--Daniel Ellsberg not only goes free, he's made a hero in the media and a hero on college campuses all over the worl--country. Now, that's just wrong.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:34:32
[Frank Gannon]

John Ehrlichman has since--so you th--you think that Ehrlichman got a bum rap?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:34:38
[Richard Nixon]

Yes, I do.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:34:40
[Frank Gannon]

He's since written a book in which, among other things, he claims that you had a serious drinking problem. He claims that you manipulated the Watergate period to make yourself look good, to position yourself well. How did--when he resigned, you said that he was one of the two finest public servants it had ever been your privilege to know. How do you feel about him today?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:03
[Richard Nixon]

I felt that then, about his public service. I still feel that. And I understand why he, or Bob Haldeman, for that matter, to a lesser degree--after having to go to prison, they felt unjustifiably, and so forth, after all that they had done--how they would be bitter. I understand it.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:25
[Frank Gannon]

How do you feel about John Dean, in twenty-five words or less, today?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:29
[Richard Nixon]

I don't need twenty-five words. He did what he did to save himself, and I understand that.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:38
[Frank Gannon]

In your memoirs, you've--you've--in your memoirs, you quote your daughter Triciar's--sorry. In your memoirs, you quote your daughter Tricia's own diary about the arrival at San Clemente and the walk she and her husband took around the gold course. Can you--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:56
[Richard Nixon]

Yeah.

[Frank Gannon]

--tell that story?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:35:58
[Richard Nixon]

When the plane finally landed in San Clemente, I was already a bit down, because of hearing the news about Ehrlichman's conviction, and I went into the house, and we had pleasant dinner. It was a beautiful day, beautiful time, and Eddie and Tricia went out for a walk. When they came back in, they were rather subdued. They didn't tell me why. I learned later why. Right next to my house in San Clemente, Bob Abplanalp owned the property. And some friends out there-- they called them "Friends of the President"--had built a three-hole golf course. And Eddie and Tricia went out to walk on the golf course. It was all grown up with weeds. There were cattails growing in the sand traps, and Tricia was very, very depressed about that. I--I later told her--when she told me about it, I said, "You know, i--in politics, friendship is a very fleeting thing. Unless you can do something for somebody or something to them, the friendships evaporate very quickly. Very few stick around." It was obvious that those who had been friends, who helped to build that golf course, felt that I could do nothing for them and nothing to them. That was an indication of how power goes away.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:37:17
[Frank Gannon]

Isn't that a terribly empty, and--and even cynical, attitude--that politics is only what you can do to or for people?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:37:25
[Richard Nixon]

Well, there are some saving graces, however. I said that that is generally the case, but there are also some others who are with you through thick and thin, a--and those are the ones that you remember. But I've--I've often written, incidentally, after campaigns--and I've been in so many over the years--I write to the winners, but I also write to the losers, because, having lost, I know that's when you appreciate it. And in every letter I write to the losers, I said, "You know, when you win, everybody's your friend. When you lose, you find out who your true friends are. Just count me in the latter."

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:02
[Frank Gannon]

Did you find out in Watergate who your true friends are?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:04
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:05
[Frank Gannon]

Did you have many major disappointments or many major surprises in terms of who weren't or who were your real friends?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:12
[Richard Nixon]

Not particularly, no. No. Let me say that it was very difficult to remain a Nixon friend after Watergate. After all, wh--while the polls showed we still had maybe twenty-five to thirty percent support, we have to understand that I was simply an unpopular figure, and people generally don't want to stick out their necks for somebody who's d--down. We're all that way to an extent.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:41
[Frank Gannon]

What was your reaction--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:38:42
[Richard Nixon]

I--the reason I am not that way is that, having been down, I can understand people that are also down, and I want to help them. But a lot of people just only play winners. That's particularly true in what I call the Wall Street crowd. Douglas MacArthur often told me that. He said, "These people here, Mr. Vice President--they are the coldest, most cynical people in the world. They aren't conservative. They aren't liberal. They're just for whoever happens to be on top."

Day 7, Tape 2
00:39:16
[Frank Gannon]

What was your reaction when John Doar called for your impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee and the hearings were set for the twenty-fourth of July?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:39:25
[Richard Nixon]

Well, what had happened, of course, that the day before John Doar made what I understood from the reports was a masterful request for and advocacy of my impeachment--this was all, of course, in closed session. Our own attorney, James [Sinclair,] who was supposed to be a very fine lawyer, had made what we had heard was a very eloquent defense. But what concerned me was that when he made that defense, the committee then took a vote and denied him the opportunity to make his defense on television. I knew then that we were in deep trouble, because it was the public opinion that would affect the Congress if it got close. Once I heard about Doar, I knew that things were moving along. I--I--that gut reaction that I'd had--I said, "This fellow is awfully good. I don't know how we're going to be able to stand up against this juggernaut." It was just rolling toward us, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:40:25
[Frank Gannon]

Did you ever f--feel, given the weight of numbers, that--it was a Democratic-controlled Congress--that you could actually defeat impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee? Was that ever a real option?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:40:36
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes, there was an option, but not of defeating it, but of not losing it in a way that we would lose in the House. L--let me explain exactly how it would have worked. The Democrats had a majority in the House, as we all know. We had only a hundred and ninety Republicans. On the other hand, we could always count on--assuming even we had some Republican defections, which I expected--not many, but some--we could always count on fifty Southern Democrats, what I called the Joe Waggonner group, conservative Southerners who stood with me on Vietnam and all the other critical issues. Now, in this case, however, with the Judiciary Committee voting--members of the House, I knew from experience, usually voted the way that the members of the Judiciary Committee, or any other committee, voted in committee. In other words, if you had, for example, a member of the House from Alabama--he would be very greatly swayed in his vote by how the member of the House on the Judiciary Committee from Alabama recommended that he vote. So, under the circumstances, Joe Waggonner told me flat out, and he was all for us. He said, "If we can get just even one vote--we hope to get three Southern Democrats, but if we can get just one, we can still give you enough Democratic votes to avoid the House voting impeachment"--the full House. "If, however, we lose all, there's no way"--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:41:59
[Frank Gannon]

All three.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:42:00
[Richard Nixon]

That's right. "If we lose all three of the Southern Democrats, there's no way that I can hold more than thirty or thirty-five." So it was right down to that count, and when I heard about Doar's argument, I thought, "Well, it's going to be tough for any of those Democrats to stand up against that kind of elements."

Day 7, Tape 2
00:42:15
[Frank Gannon]

Did they? I have a--a--when you--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:42:17
[Richard Nixon]

We'll come to that later.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:42:18
[Frank Gannon]

Okay.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:42:25
[Richard Nixon]

After I--well, after I heard that, incidentally, I--I did a lot of soul-searching and on occasion, as is now known, I would dictate very late at night, usually eleven, twelve o'clock, a diary note. They were never transcribed, incidentally, at the time. They were transcribed only after I began working on my memoirs. But I recall particularly the diary note that I wrote then. It--I reread it recently, and it indicated a mood which was to an extent almost resigned to defeat, but, on the other hand, held out just a smidgen of hope.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:43:04
[Frank Gannon]

In fact, you quote it in your memoirs--I have a copy, if you'd read it.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:43:11
[Richard Nixon]

"I intend to live the next week without dying the death of a thousand cuts. This has been my philosophy throughout my political life. Cowards die a thousand deaths. Brave men die only once. I suppose it could be said that this is our seventh crisis in spades, because the next month will be so--as--as hard a month as we will ever go through. But we can only be sustained by two things. One, the belief that we're right. We are fighting, as all agree, an assault on our entire system of government. And, second, we will be sustained by the fact that at the end it will be over, and even if it is over in the terms of an impeachment, we will just have to live with that. By this time next week, we may have both the court and the committee vote. We can only hope for the best, plan for the worst."

Day 7, Tape 2
00:44:08
[Frank Gannon]

Did the worst happen in terms of the support of the three Southern Democrats on the Judiciary Committee?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:44:14
[Richard Nixon]

It happened, certainly, very dramatically, but I--I--I would say that in order to get the feeling of that particular day that it happened, it's well to put the whole day into context. It was July the twenty-third. I went over to the office that morning, and we got a report out of Washington, a very disturbing one, not about Democrats, but about a Republican. Larry Hogan of Maryland was running for governor of Maryland in a primary. His campaign wasn't getting off the ground. We had counted on him, he was a conservative Republican, but he had announced at an emotional press conference that he was going to vote for impeachment. He was a member of the Judiciary Committee. Well, that shook me. Now, our people in Washington say that they tried to make me feel better by saying that'll--everybody was jumping on him for being so political. But I knew better. His colleagues in the House, watching what Larry was doing, when he was down at the grassroots running for governor, would say, "Well, if Nixon's a liability to him, we better watch out. He might be a liability to us." And so I was worried about that, not because he had defected, but because others would be inf--influenced by the f--reasons he might have defected. Then came the afternoon. And then the real shocker came in. Bill Timmons, who was the head of our legislative group, called in. He said that we had lost all three Southern Democrats. I don't know that I was particularly surprised, because I had sensed that things weren't going right. But then Al Haig came in, and he said, "You know, we just had a message from one of Wall--Wallace's people saying that George Wallace might be able to influence Congressman Flowers, who's from the state of Alabama, on the Judiciary Committee, and if you'd call him, maybe that would do it, because he has great affection for you, and respect," and so forth. Well, I decided to call him. So, at three o'clock I picked up the phone. Operator got him in Montgomery, Alabama. He said at first it was very difficult for him to hear me. And finally, when the connection came through, he said, well, he hadn't had a chance to really-- to study this whole matter. He said, "I'm praying for you." He says, "I'm s--very much so--sorry. I'm very sorry that this ordeal had to be brought upon you, but I don't feel that I can really talk to Flowers because he might resent my doing so. If I change my mind, however, I'll let you know." The call had taken only six-and-a-half minutes, but as I hung up the phone, I knew it was all over. I turned to Al Haig. I said, "Well, there goes the presidency." That night, incidentally, I put it in writing. I worked till over--oh, after two a.m. in the morning on a speech on the economy, my last major substantive speech as president, that I was giving in Los Angeles the next day. And at the top of my outline of that speech text, I wrote, "Lowest day of the presidency." But it wasn't the lowest day. The worst was yet to come. The next morning, understandably, I didn't wake up at my usual early hour. About nine o'clock, I woke up. I called the office and asked Al Haig how things were going. This is really the first time in this whole period that he sounded really down. He said, "Well, not good." He said, "The Supreme Court has just come down with the decision. It's nine to nothing, no air in it whatever. We have to comply." So we decided we had to comply. So, under the circumstances, then--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:47:59
[Frank Gannon]

This was a decision about having to turn over tapes--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:01
[Richard Nixon]

That's right.

[Frank Gannon]

--to the special prosecutor?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:02
[Richard Nixon]

What had happened was the spresh--special prosecutor wanted s--not only sixty-four tapes but even more than that. We had resisted that. We felt that that was going too far, that it was a fishing expedition, and the Court held against us.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:17
[Frank Gannon]

Wasn't the June twenty-third, 1972, tape, the smoking gun tape, among these seventy-four?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:23
[Richard Nixon]

It was.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:24
[Frank Gannon]

And you knew that?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:48:25
[Richard Nixon]

It was, that's right. And I--I told Haig of my concern. I had told him about it before. I told him of my concern, and we both thought that [Fred Bozart], our lawyer, should listen to it. He listened to it. He was concerned about it, and I--he called back and told Haig that he thought it would be very hard to explain it and so forth, having in mind the fact that the only mitigating--and it was a very substantial mitigating factor-- was that two weeks later I had said, "Go forward with your investigation," since the C.I.A. had indicated that it was not concerned about the investigation revealing any of its operative--operations. So I said to Al Haig when we got that word, "Well, it looks pretty bad." He says, "No, we can cope with it." He was--he was a strong man, but, of course, we couldn't, and didn't. I should point out, however, that it was not the June twenty-third tape that brought me down, because the very next day, before the tape'd ever be made public--before it was made public, I was swimming in the Pacific at a--at a beach. As a matter of fact, it's called the Red Beach. It's the Marine Corps landing beach where they practice their amphibious landing, one of the great beaches of the world. And when I came in, and I--the phone rang in the trailer in which I was changing my clothes, and I put on my windbreaker with the presidential seal on--picked up the phone, and Ron Ziegler informed me that the Judiciary Committee had voted, as I had expected then, by a margin, with all three Southern Democrats voting for impeachment. That meant, in other words, there was no question that the full House would vote for impeachment. I didn't have any particular feeling about it, though. I was prepared for it. I expected it.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:50:15
[Frank Gannon]

You didn't--you had to have some--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:50:17
[Richard Nixon]

Nope. Well--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:50:18
[Frank Gannon]

--feeling.

[Richard Nixon]

Well, if it had been a surprise, if it had been a surprise, I'd have had a feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I--you see, I did--I didn't have any feeling about it, because the--the situation is--is--in a case like that is--and I--I must say that--let me explain how I oper--I always believe you must prepare yourself for the worst. Then, when it comes, you don't get a shock from it. I knew the numbers. After all, I had served in the House. I had worked with the House in eight years as vice president. I had worked with them out of office, in office. I knew how they'd operate. I knew the minute that that Wallace call was finished was--it was all over. And--and Al Haig, when he said, "We can cope with this," and I said, "Well, in a way--only if there's a miracle." But you know something about miracles in politics. Miracles don't happen in politics. They don't happen unless you make them happen. I'd made a miracle happen when I saved myself in the fund controversy way back in 1953. I made a miracle happen, after losing for president and losing for governor and reading off the press, by coming back. But now there was nothing that I could do to make that miracle happen. It was--reminded me of something that Tricia once said about the whole Watergate business. It was like trench warfare in World War I--charge after charge over the top, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions dying, only a few yards gained, and then lost. And that was the way it was with us with Watergate. We couldn't gain anything. No matter what we did, there wasn't going to be a miracle. We couldn't make one happen.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:52:06
[Frank Gannon]

So as you flew back to Washington from San Clemente, you had no hope whatever that you would survive as president for more than a matter of days or weeks, or months at most?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:52:17
[Action note: One frame of color bars.]

[Richard Nixon]

From the twenty-third of August on, I knew that--

Day 7, Tape 2
00:52:19
[Frank Gannon]

Of July.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:52:21
[Richard Nixon]

Sorry. From the twenty-third of July on, I--I knew that we could not survive. However, when I got back to Washington, in my usual methodical way--people think it's methodical and I guess it is--I decided I should put down the pros and cons of what options I had. And I had a sheet of paper on that which refreshed my memory--rather interesting when I read it today, so many years later. It indicated--one, I could resign now; two, I could wait until the House voted impeachment and resign then; or, three, I could, despite the House voting impeachment, go to trial in the Senate, which would take about six months. Now, resigning now was the option I didn't want to do, above everything else, personally. I--I'm a fighter. I--I just didn't want to quit. Also, I thought it would be an admission of guilt, which, of course, it was, and also I felt that it would set a terribly bad precedent for the future. I hoped no other president ever resigns under any circumstances. The second option was no option at all, to wait until the House voted impeachment, because what I would do then would be to put all of my good supporters on the spot and make them vote for impeachment, which they didn't want to do. You don't put them through that sort of thing. The third option, go through the Senate, with a hearing--I mean, a trial, I should say--for six months--I knew that that was unacceptable--unacceptable because from the standpoint of the country--the country couldn't afford to have a crippled, half-time president, particularly in this time when--I recalled that, in 1973, when things weren't b--as bad as they were now--the Soviet Union at that time was very difficult during that '73 war in the Mideast. I just couldn't risk it, I felt. So, after making those notes, I, in my own mind, decided, "Well, there's no choice." And so the next day, on the first day of August--this was a week before I finally made my resignation speech--I got in Haig and Ziegler and told them that I felt that there was no choice but to resign. Haig felt that, under the circumstances--that I probably should resign right away and leave town before the June twenty-third tape came out. Well, first, I didn't--just wasn't going to go skulking away like that, a--and Ziegler strongly recommended, well, I should take the time over the weekend to inform the family and also to see what the reaction to the tape was. I didn't have any hope about the reaction, because I knew--I didn't feel that they would see it in the context that I had--I felt it ought to be seen in. But that's what we finally decided to do.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:55:13
[Frank Gannon]

Some people, including people very close in your inner circle, later felt that General Haig was orchestrating a--your departure from at least this point, if not before. Do you see the fact that he--when you told him you were going to resign and were going to wait a couple of days to do it, and he suggested doing it right away--do you see that as supporting that theory at all?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:55:33
[Richard Nixon]

Well, some of my very close friends feel that. I don't agree with them. I--I've never felt that he was orchestrating it. I think all he orchestrated was the resignation when he knew that I was going to resign. And I think it was very clear on the first of August that the decision had been made. He knew that. And from then on, he felt he was carrying out my--my wishes, and if he orchestrated that, he was doing something that was very proper indeed.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:56:06
[Frank Gannon]

Did you tell your family that you had decided to resign as early as the first of August?

Day 7, Tape 2
00:56:11
[Richard Nixon]

Not till the next day. That, of course, was the most difficult thing to do of all. That night--this is the night that I told Haig and Ziegler that the decision had been made--Bebe Rebozo came up from Florida. I went out on the Sequoia with him. I told him, and--and I've never seen him--he's rather swarthy in complexion anyway, with his Spanish background, and he just turns white. He says, "You can't do it. You can't do it, for the good of the country," and so forth. I said, "Well, you've got to help me with the family. And then--so the next day, I had to tell the family. I--I--it was a painful day, a very--I remember going over to the White House in the evening, and I was sitting in the Lincoln Sitting Room reading a few things, working on some correspondence and other things that simply had piled up, and had to be acted upon. Tricia came into the room. And I remember, when she came in, it sort of reminded me of other times she'd come in. She had a way, during the years before she was married, of sometimes just coming in the room when I would be working or reading there, and just sitting. She wouldn't talk. She wouldn't say anything. We kind of communicated in silence. That was her way, and it was mine. She just wanted to be near me when things were good, or, as a matter of fact, when they were tough. And so she came in, and I said, "Well, I've decided that we're going to have to resign for the good of the country." And I said--she--she interrupted me. She says, "For the good of the country," sh--"you must not resign." She's pretty firm, despite her rather fragile, frail appearance. And after I said, "No, I'm afraid it has to be done"--and then, unlike Julie, she has very great problem [sic] controlling her--she has no problem in controlling her emotions. She controls them very well. And she sort of got up, and she came over to me, put her arms around me, kissed me on the forehead, and tears coming into her eyes, and she said, "You're the most decent man I've ever known." And I said, "Well, I just hope I haven't let you down," but I knew I had.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:58:29
[Frank Gannon]

I think we'll break for lunch now.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:58:39
[Richard Nixon]

Well, that went fairly fast.

Day 7, Tape 2
00:58:42
[Offscreen voice]

O--okay.

[Action note: Sound ends.]

Day 7, Tape 2
00:58:57
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day Seven, Tape three of four, LINE FEED #3, 6-10-83, ETI Reel #50
June 10, 1983

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:01
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:04
[Frank Gannon]

I will--yes--no, I'm going to ask that.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:07
[Richard Nixon]

Now?

[Frank Gannon]

First--yes, first, but then we'll pick up with the--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:10
[Richard Nixon]

With the Lincoln, yeah.

[Frank Gannon]

With [unintelligible] Lincoln.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:11
[Richard Nixon]

And then the family.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:31
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:45
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 3
00:01:51
[Frank Gannon]

You talk about the--the media's vested interest in bringing you down--that they had reached a point of no return where they--they had to bring you down or suffer terrible embarrassment themselves. How strong is the media, really, in the final analysis? Can it accomplish something like bringing a president down?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:12
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes. The media is--is a very strong--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:15
[Offscreen voice]

Excuse me, sorry. There's a spot on the president's right lapel.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:22
[Frank Gannon]

I was afraid of that. It's the s--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:24
[Richard Nixon]

Which way?

[Frank Gannon]

It's the--there's a spot on your right lapel.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:26
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible]--get it, Rog?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:27
[Richard Nixon]

That's right. Right there.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:31
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.]

[Frank Gannon]

No, it's--won't--it's--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:32
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.]

[Frank Gannon]

--needs wet.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:33
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.] I need moist--moisture.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:37
[Offscreen voice]

Moisture.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:42
[Richard Nixon]

That get it?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:43
[Offscreen voice]

That's it.

[Offscreen voice]

That's it.

[Offscreen voice]

Good. That's all. Keep going.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:46
[Frank Gannon]

Got moisture.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:47
[Offscreen voice]

Let's take it from the top. Here we go.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:50
[Offscreen voice]

[Unintelligible.]

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:52
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

[Offscreen voice]

Change your lights back.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:02:59
[Action note: Picture appears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 3
00:03:04
[Frank Gannon]

You talk about the--the media having a vested interest in your impeachment and events having reached a point of no return, where, unless you were impeached, they were going to look very bad. In final analysis, how important, how powerful is the American media? Do they have the power to bring down a president that they don't like?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:03:24
[Richard Nixon]

Much more power than most people would like to think. I think we have to understand tha--is th--no, let's start this again. Well, they have much more power than most people would like to think. When we think of the media in this country, the problem is that they have a sense of self-righteousness, a double standard, on issue after issue after issue. They can find everything wrong with somebody else, but they will not look inside and ever admit that they could be wrong themselves. And what was involved here in the Watergate thing was the unfairness of it. Oh, there was a legitimate thing to investigate, but they refused to balance it. They allowed their advocacy to get ahead of their reporting, which is their job to do. You know, President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, wrote about and warned against the power of the military-industrial complex. I didn't get a chance to make a farewell address, but when I get old enough and decide to retire--and I'm not planning it at the moment--but when I get that old, if I make a farewell address, I think I would warn against the media-elitist complex. You know, the media is always talking about the imperial presidency, the power in the imperial presidency. I think we ought to hear a little bit of discussion of the imperial media and its power. You see, presidential power is limited, limited by the courts, limited by the Congress. The media's power is unlimited. And some would say, "But what about libel suits?" Forget it. After the Supreme Court's decision in Sullivan versus New York Times a few years ago, a public figure cannot collect in a libel suit against newspaper or television unless he can prove malice. And there's no way that that's going to be possible.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:05:22
[Frank Gannon]

Isn't the media s--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:05:23
[Richard Nixon]

So I would say that, as far as the media is concerned, all we can hope from them, if they're going to be responsible, is self-analysis, self-criticism, and--and some of them are trying, with their ombudsmen and the rest. The other thing is competition. But what we see in terms of newspapers across the country is, more and more places, there's only one paper. Take Washington, D.C. Since the Star left the scene, the Washington Post is the only major newspaper being printed in the most important capital in the world. I wouldn't like to leave the fate of this country to the editors of the Washington Post.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:05:59
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think that the First Amendment has been misused or abused by reporters?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:06:05
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, no question about it. It's used basically as a license. L--let's face it--Sullivan versus New York Times is, in effect, a license to lie, because they can tell an untruth, print an untruth, which some of them consciously do if it's going to sell newspapers or what-have-you, or win a prize. And then they can always get behind the barrier under that case of saying, "Well, I didn't intend any malice. I had no malice."

Day 7, Tape 3
00:06:34
[Frank Gannon]

Isn't--that's a terribly cynical approach, though, to people who are--who are doing their best, who are going to work, who are trying to--maybe trying to sell papers, certainly, but are trying to tell the truth.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:06:44
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, the--let me say right at the outset of this conversation, I made it clear that I was not speaking personally. I was not speaking generally. I am simply speaking of what I have found to be an unfortunate majority at the present time. I think it could change. There are a lot of very good, responsible reporters, particularly in the writing press--not yet that much in television, because television is so consumed with ratings and the rest. They'll do almost anything to get a story.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:07:13
[Frank Gannon]

Do you count Woodward and Bernstein among the--or which of--in which of the two camps of reporters do you count Woodward and Bernstein?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:07:22
[Richard Nixon]

Well, it would be obvious, see, where I would count them. I think that their reporting--I have not read their book, from--but from those that were interviewed and then misquoted in their books, I'd say that it was not that responsible. It was advocacy journalism.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:07:35
[Frank Gannon]

Is there any way to--to get some kind of a--a handle on this situation? Should the media be investigated? It--should it be controlled?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:07:44
[Richard Nixon]

No. I may disagree, for example, with what some president does with his power, but I don't want to abolish the presidency, or I don't want to control it. The same is true with the press. I believe in a free press. I do not want government control under any circumstances or government censorship of either radio, television, or newspapers. But I am simply suggesting here that all of the media should look within themselves, look through that microscope at themselves, look in the mirror now and then, rather than looking out there to others.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:08:15
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think there was or is a "Deep Throat"?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:08:19
[Richard Nixon]

I haven't the slightest idea. The--I've read in newspaper accounts the speculation about this one or that one. They even thought Al Haig was Deep Throat. That's ridiculous, of course. And if all the charges as--are as ridiculous as that, I would gather it was probably a composite. In other words, it might have been simply a fictitious character that they had to use in order to give more credibility to th--what they were trying to report.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:08:44
[Frank Gannon]

In terms of the enormous credibility and fascination that Deep Throat assumed as a result of that reporting, if it is in fact a composite, or if he doesn't exist at all, is that a serious abuse of--or how serious an abuse of journalistic power is that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:09:03
[Richard Nixon]

It's a terribly serious abuse. It's making i--something up. It is starting with a point of view and then developing the facts--the fiction, in other words--to make the point of view survive. In other words, it's basically making fact out of fiction--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:09:21
[Frank Gannon]

Do you--

[Richard Nixon]

--and that's wrong.

[Frank Gannon]

Do you think that, without the character of Deep Throat, the Watergate story would have built and continued to build the way it did?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:09:28
[Richard Nixon]

It might have, because, as I said, while they stuck the knife in and twisted it pretty good, we gave the knife to them. So, under the circumstances, that could have happened. On the other hand, there's no question but that that kind of reporting, with the enormous credibility that people gave to it--that here was this sinister individual, an inside mole who was reporting to the newspapers and so forth, and giving them all the scoop--that made it appear all very credible.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:00
[Frank Gannon]

You've described--you've said that Mrs. Nixon was reading the book, or--or excerpts from the--the Woodward-Bernstein book The Final Days when she had her stroke, or you've been reported as saying that. Is that true?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:13
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:14
[Frank Gannon]

Do you see any cause and effect there?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:18
[Richard Nixon]

I couldn't give a medical opinion, but my gut reaction is that it had an enormous impact. Certainly, as far as I'm concerned, I have nothing but contempt for them.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:33
[Frank Gannon]

You've described your daughter--your daughter Tricia in the Lincoln Sitting Room that night. How--how did Mrs. Nixon learn about and how sh--how did she react to your decision to resign?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:10:50
[Richard Nixon]

Well, the way she learned about it was through Bebe and Rose Woods. We thought that it was important that everybody concerned, if possible, get the word and be able to think about it before we all got together. And so she came down--we all met in the Lincoln Sitting Room, as I recall. She came down with Tricia, Julie, Eddie Cox, and David, and I had the twenty-third tape transcript brought over, because I thought that it was important that they see just what the problems were, because that was causing concern. Let me say, had there not been the twenty-third tape transcript, we would have still had to resign due to the fact that, before that transcript ever was made public, as we know, the three Democrats had been lost on the committee. But, nevertheless, this was the final blow, the final nail in the coffin, although you don't need another nail if you're already in the coffin, which we were. And so they read it. They thought about it. Eddie and David are both lawyers, as you know, and they said, "Well, it depends on how you ascribe the motives." And they made the point, which I tried to make, too, that what I did two weeks later indicated that, while at the time we were trying to get the F--the C.I.A. to at least try to stop these--F.B.I.'s investigation, that at a later point I made it clear that if there were no C.I.A. concerns that--then the F.B.I. should go forward. But nevertheless they realized that it was a problem. I then indicated to all concerned that I felt that I had no choice but to resign. And I said, "I have to resign for the--the good of the--of the country." And Eddie Cox made a very interesting observation. He said, "No." He said, "You've got to realize that today the most important function a president has in the field of foreign policy [sic]. And even though you would be crippled, agreed, and could serve only half-time, with your experience, that would be better than having Ford." He felt Ford was very competent, but he said he had no experience, or not as much experience, in foreign policy. And then I went on to say, "Well, but you'll have Kissinger. He'll be there." He says, "Look. Kissinger's brilliant, but mark my word, unless he has somebody with him who knows as much as he does and will back him up, he won't be as effective." Well, under the circumstances, that sort of finished that subject. We decided to go to--think it over and go to Camp David for the weekend.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:13:22
[Frank Gannon]

How did Mrs. Nixon react during this, when she learned of your decision?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:13:27
[Richard Nixon]

She was very quiet about it, listening to the others, which she usually does. But she came down very emphatically against resigning. I mean, we have to remember that during the fund crisis, I was the one that felt that, "Well, I ought to give my resignation to Eisenhower," and she says, "You can't do it"--says, "You can't do it, because of its effect on the children. You can't do it because Eisenhower'll lose the election." She says, "These people are just dumb who think that if he does this to you that they're going to be able to survive and get your supporters to support them in the final campaign." And on this occasion she was a fighter to the last. She was the last to give up. She was the last to give up in the fund thing, the last to give up in 1960, and she was the last to give up this time. Very hard for her.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:14:16
[Frank Gannon]

It must have been a very eerie weekend at Camp David, with all of you there with this enormous thing hanging over you, knowing that the--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:14:24
[Richard Nixon]

It was.

[Frank Gannon]

--the decision had been made.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:14:26
[Richard Nixon]

It was an eerie weekend. Well, we saw a movie, and we took a walk on the paths up there, and--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:14:31
[Frank Gannon]

Do you remember what the movie was?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:14:33
[Richard Nixon]

I don't remember the movie, no. I--I didn't much care for the movies. They were just a good way to relax. It wasn't Patton. It was something else, I think some--something that one of the girls had picked. I remember I went for the swim in the pool, and there's a sauna right next to it, and Eddie Cox was in the sauna with me. And he took that place, because we weren't discussing it out in the room there. We wanted to sort of make it a pleasant last weekend. We thought it was going to be that. Eddie Cox says this--"I want to tell you again--I know you've made this decision." But he said, "But I want to tell you that I know these people that are after you, because I--and you've got to be sure that you realize what you're up against." He said, "There's only one thing for you to do." And I said, "What is it?" He says, "Fight 'em! Fight 'em! Fight 'em!"

Day 7, Tape 3
00:15:21
[Frank Gannon]

When you went back to Washington on the Monday, the transcript for the June twenty-third tape, the smoking gun tape, was released. What--what was the reaction?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:15:32
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I should point out that before it was released, a statement had been made, which Ray Price, who had started work on the resignation speech on Thursday, and then I had turned him off to do this work--he had worked on a statement on this. And Jim Sinclair and the other lawyers had been up to get a statement out accompanying the tape. Well, Al Haig brought that to me the last day at Camp David to look at it. When I saw the statement, I was really almost horrified, because it made a very good case for the lawyers, which it should, saying they were not informed of this prior to the time they made their presentation to the committee, but it made a very poor c--case for me, their client, by not emphasizing, as I thought, enough what I had done two weeks later. I mentioned this to Al Haig, and I'd written out a few words to correct it, and for the first time he--he got a little abrupt with me, and I understand why. He said, "Nope. We can't do a thing more with it. If we don't take it just the way they fixed it, they're going to jump ship." I said, "Well, to hell with it. Let 'em write anything they want. I've made my decision anyway." So, when we got back to Washington, he knew the decision was made, as he'd knowed [sic] it--known it before, and we decided that night to go out for one last ride on the Sequoia. That also was a rather eerie ride, I may say. We talked about everything but what Tricia has called, quote, "the subject," end quote. We talked about a movies [sic] that Julie had seen with David. I don't even remember what it was. We talked about how Rose was--who--she was with us during these last days--how she was handling some impertinent inquiries from the press in her usual, very effective way. And so the evening ended rather pleasantly, and I went down below to stretch out, and because I'd had pretty hard weekend [sic], I thought, thinking about all these things. Rose took the call from Al Haig with regard to the reaction to the tape, and she came into the r--bedroom down below where I was stretched out, and she read from her shorthand notes. It's about as we expected. I kind of winced as some of the names were read off of those that had left now--left my support. I understood it, but they--I sort of--I felt--I looked back to the times I've campaigned for them and worked for them and supported them and written them and--kind of tough, although I did understand it. Didn't hold it against them. And--but then she read off that the Cabinet, however, was standing firm for the most part, and then she left the room. And so I just turned off the light and closed my eyes.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:18:21
[Frank Gannon]

At the cabinet meeting the next morning--you told the assembled Cabinet on the Tuesday morning that you weren't going to resign. Why did you do that if--had you changed your mind?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:18:32
[Richard Nixon]

No. I told them quite deliberately. I knew the Cabinet well. I knew, from what I had heard from Al Haig and others, that some of them felt that they would like an opportunity to present their views and, in effect, to lobby me to make a decision in that way. I respected the Cabinet, but I wasn't about to allow them to get me to resign. It had to be my own decision, taken in my own way, at the right time. That was one reason. I didn't want to give them that opportunity. The second reason was even more important, however. I could not afford a leak. There couldn't be a period of even forty-eight hours, because the resignation couldn't take place, I knew, in at least a couple of days, in which it was known that I was going to resign. And I knew that as far as the Cabinet was concerned, as good as they were, that there'd be a leak out of there in that big a meeting. I know that many of them probably didn't appreciate the fact that I didn't tell them, just as many of them didn't appreciate it when I didn't tell them I was going to China. But, on the other hand, there are times when you have to keep your counsel, and I felt that this was one of those times. I regretted it, because I would like to have told them. But I didn't think it was the proper thing to do. Right after the cabinet meeting, I asked Henry to come in, and I told him, of course, because we had to inform foreign governments and all that sort of thing. He said, "Well"--he f--he supported the decision, he regretted it, but we--he simply--it just wasn't--it was asking too much to ask me to be "dishonored," as he put it, by having to go to trial for six months before the Senate.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:20:08
[Frank Gannon]

Had you told Vice President Ford, or informed him, that the decision was imminent and that he might become president on very short notice?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:20:17
[Richard Nixon]

Yes. That--he'd--that--was kept informed throughout, not by me, but by Haig. And then, after this particular day, I, of course, by telephone, discussed the matter with him.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:20:31
[Frank Gannon]

Are you aware that after this cabinet meeting, Secretary of Defense Schlesinger went back to the Pentagon and met with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then issued an order that no alert, or alert of American forces, could be declared without his countersignature, and he's since said it was because--or it's since been said that he said it was because he feared your stability and that you would either use a foreign crisis to maintain yourself in office, or that you would use domestic troops in order to main--retain yourself in office as, in effect, a coup.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:21:07
[Richard Nixon]

Incredible.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:21:08
[Frank Gannon]

Why did he think that, though?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:21:10
[Richard Nixon]

I don't know. I don't know. I have great respect for him. I appointed him to several very important positions, as everybody knows. But I can't understand why he would do that, because that just isn't the way I'd operate. There--there was nothing in my mind whatever like that. I had made the decision, actually, to resign on the twenty-third of August. It was just a question of, frankly, programming it the right way.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:21:34
[Frank Gannon]

Does it frighten--that for three days, although you didn't know it, if for some reason you had had to declare an alert it wouldn't have happened because of the intervention of this order?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:21:45
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, I think it would have happened. Weakened as I was then, let me say, I had handled Schlesinger before when he didn't want to send the planes to Israel. And I said, "Look. You send them. Send everything that flies, damn it." And he did. And in this case, I would have shaken him up pretty damn good. I'm s--I'm glad it wasn't necessary.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:22:07
[Frank Gannon]

When did you inform General Haig that you had actually reached this decision?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:22:13
[Richard Nixon]

Well, that afternoon--the--the afternoon after the cabinet meeting, I had Haig and Ziegler come over, and I said, "Well, the things are moving very fast now. I think that we should do it on Thursday," and I then proceeded to give several suggestions with regard to the content of the resignation speech--passed them on to Ray Price. Things were moving very fast.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:22:38
[Frank Gannon]

This was on the Tuesday afternoon?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:22:39
[Richard Nixon]

This was the Tuesday afternoon, and I said to General Haig that that I would resign, but it would be with dignity and with no rancor. And he said, "You will be as worthy"--he said, "your exit will be as worthy as your opponents are unworthy." And then I thought a minute, and I said, "Well, Al, I really screwed it up, didn't I?" He didn't have to answer.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:23:17
[Frank Gannon]

What was the family dinner like that night, Tuesday night?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:23:24
[Richard Nixon]

Very quiet. We didn't talk that much about the situation. Let me say Mrs. Nixon was very perceptive, however. I learned later that, after our night on the Sequoia, that even though they hadn't been officially told the decision was final, she had started to sort the clothes and start the packing. Incidentally, for three days, from Monday night until we left on Friday morning, she didn't sleep at all--packing five-and-a-half years of clothes and other mementos preparatory to leaving. With us sometimes, as it is between people that are very close, you don't have to say it publicly, or even privately. Things unspoken say it even more strongly.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:24:17
[Frank Gannon]

That night, after you had been working in the Lincoln Sitting Room, you got back to your room, and, as you write in your memoirs, there was a note on your pillow.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:24:28
[Richard Nixon]

Well, as a matter of fact, even more interesting--another amusing point. Monday night, after we got back from the ride on the Sequoia, I--I just couldn't sleep, and I--for--understandably, I guess. And so I went down to the Lincoln Sitting Room, about two o'clock in the morning, and I lit a fire. It was the middle of the summer, but the air conditioning was on. I always lit fires in the middle of August--it didn't matter. And I sat back, lights off, enjoying the fire, and two men burst into the room, wearing overalls and so forth, and they said, "The fire alarm has gone off!" Apparently I had not opened the ventilators that--the smoke was out. And so they fixed it and fumbled around and so forth and so on, and they started to leave the room. And the younger one of the two sort of turned, rather deferentially, and said, "Mr. President, we just want you to know we're praying for you." Then, after the Tuesday night dinner, which was family dinner, and Mrs. Nixon made it very pleasant for us and had the dogs come in and do their usual begging at the White House table and so forth, and we joked about that, but she, too--like me, she'd had a lot of practice going through crises, knew how to handle it. And then I worked again in the Lincoln Sitting Room, working on my resignation speech then until very late. Julie hadn't been there at dinner, because she had had to be out with a--a celebration that David's parents were having. I got back into my room, and there was a note on my pillow.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:26:10
[Frank Gannon]

You ha--you've reprinted it in your memoirs. I have a copy, if you would read it.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:26:19
[Richard Nixon]

She often wrote me notes, and she'd leave them around. It said, "Daddy, I love you. Whatever you do, I will support. I am very proud of you. Please wait a week or even ten days before you make this decision. Go through the fire just a b--little bit longer. You are so strong. I love you." Signed, "Julie." And then a P.S. "Millions support you." Like her mother, she was a fighter. If anything would have changed my mind, believe me, that would have done it. But it was too late.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:26:59
[Frank Gannon]

Didn't your family, in fact, continue to argue, even the next day, against the--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:27:03
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, yes.

[Frank Gannon]

--resignation--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:27:05
[Richard Nixon]

The following day--

[Frank Gannon]

--or at least against doing it so soon?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:27:07
[Richard Nixon]

Against doing it at all, as a matter of fact. They wanted me to delay, to take the heat a little longer, but they felt that in any event it was the wrong thing to do--wrong for the country, as well as for myself personally. David and--and Eddie came in the next day. They were among the first visitors. It was a very busy day, the Wednesday before my last full day as president, and--and I mentioned to David the point that I had made about the party, because I knew he was very interested in politics. And I said, "You know, I've got to do this for the party, because I'm a liability." And he said, "You don't owe the party a damn thing!" He said, "That's the way Grandpa th--thought, and that's the way you should think." He said, "After all, you rescued the party from oblivion after 1964. You ran way ahead of them in 1972. You do what's best for you and what's best for the country." And Eddie Cox had a little different approach. He made the point that it was vitally important for me to continue in office because of the foreign policy considerations. Is there something else there?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:28:20
[Frank Gannon]

The tragedy.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:28:23
[Richard Nixon]

Yeah. The--sorry. And then Eddie Cox came in right after him. Boy, these two boys, they're--they're going to be great advocateses [sic] if they ever get before a jury. He said that--he--that--came back to the theme that he had started at Camp David, about those that were in the special prosecutor's office. He says, "Look. I know these people. I went to Harvard with some of them. I served with some of them in the New York attorney's office after I graduated from Harvard." He says, "They're very smart. They're very tough. And they hate you. They hate you with a passion. If you resign, they're not going to let up on you. They will harass you and hound you for the rest of the days of your life." I didn't know what to say. I said, "Well, it's kind of like the Greek tragedy." I said, "If it stops in the middle of the second act, the audience throws chairs onto the stage. And all you he--ha--have to do is to recognize that whatever the outcome, you've got to see it through to the end." But I was very proud of the way they presented their case.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:29:36
[Frank Gannon]

A lot of people feel strongly that one of the most serious crimes of Watergate in a way was a--was a crime of the heart, and it was that you let Julie go out and continue to defend you after you must have known that--that--that--that your case was indefensible. Do you have a feeling about that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:30:01
[Richard Nixon]

I was, frankly, not as aware of that as many people would think. I wasn't reading the news summaries at that time, and she never spoke to me about it. Frankly, if she had asked me whether she should go out, I would have told her not to do it.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:30:16
[Frank Gannon]

The--this night when the--when the decision was finally irrevocable and people accepted it, although they didn't like it, in your family, you had one last dinner. And you asked the White House photographer to be there. Why did you--such a private person as yourself, why did you--how could you ask a photographer to be present, to intrude, at this most intimate moment?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:30:44
[Richard Nixon]

It certainly sounds uncharacteristic, but, on the other hand, I should point out that Ollie Atkins we considered a friend. He had been with us for many, many years. He had taken pictures of the youngsters for the Saturday Evening Post when they were only that high. We all called him "Ollie," and he called the kids by their first names and so forth and so on. The second thing was that I just had a feeling that it was important that the event be recorded. As I said to Tricia and Julie and Mrs. Nixon, I said, "After all, there will come a time, years from now, when you will want to see what we went through. And so this is only for our private purposes." At least, I thought it was private at that point.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:31:31
[Frank Gannon]

As you know, nothing--nothing from that period was private, and we have the photographs. Can you describe some of them?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:31:39
[Richard Nixon]

Well, the--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:31:40
[Frank Gannon]

There's one of you with Tricia in the Rose Garden.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:31:42
[Richard Nixon]

The way that came about was that I got over to the residence after this rather long day, in which I had seen not only Eddie and David but others as well who came in to plead their case. I remember Rabbi Korff coming in. He's like an Old Testament prophets [sic]. He urged me to reconsider. He said that--"It would be a sin against history to allow these jackals in the media and this cabal in the Congress to drive you from office. Don't do it. Don't do it." And then another thing that really tore me right to my heartstrings was when Rose came in. She, incidentally, was wearing a pink dress. She always wore her pink dress when she wanted to be defiant to those that were our critics, and she said she'd just got a telephone call from Colonel Guy, one of the P.O.W.s--I think he'd been a P.O.W. for five years. She said he was in tears, virtually, and he says, "Please tell him not to resign. Tell him he didn't give up on us, and we'll never give up on him." Pretty tough to listen to that and hang in to the other decision. But I had made it, and that was that. But, anyway, when I arrived in the room, I knew that it was pretty tense. I can always tell with Mrs. Nixon. I remembered at the time of the fund, when we were in Portland just before going down to make the broadcast, she had a terrible, severe pain in her neck. She gets a pain in her neck and very stiff when under tension, and this time I could see the th--throbbing. But when she saw me, she put on a great act. I guess it was an act. She got up, and she came up and threw her arms around me. She said, "We're all very proud of you, Daddy." Well, I didn't know quite what to say. And Ollie, fortu--fortunately for me, for my emotions, stepped in, and he said, "You know, I think it would be nice if we could get a picture of Mrs. Nixon and you in the Rose Garden." And she said, "No, Ollie. That's too much. I just can't do it." And Tricia said, "I'll go with you, Daddy." So I went down with Tricia to the Rose Garden. It was, incidentally, quite appropriate that she go, because we were able to think back to a happier time, 1971, three years before, when she and Eddie were married in the Rose Garden. We talked about that wedding, what a beautiful and wonderful occasion it was for all of us. And I must say, as I looked at Tricia, she was as beautiful--I think more so-- then and even now than she was then. So then we went back upstairs, and we had a bite to eat. Nobody was very hungry. I can't even remember what we had that night. It was good, but not sensational. It could have been sensational, and we wouldn’t have known. And then I felt that probably we ought to have a family picture, and--because our favorite White House picture had been of the whole family, for formal purposes, distributed during the campaign. And so I--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:34:48
[Frank Gannon]

Which was your favorite picture?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:34:49
[Richard Nixon]

The favorite picture was of the whole family, where both couples and Mrs. Nixon and me and either--on either side. So I said to--I told Ollie that I would--that we would have the picture, and I put on a--somewhat of a false front, and bravado and tried to arrange it in my usual way. "You stand here, you stand here. Stand accordion-like so that you won't be cut out of the picture." And Ollie, mercifully, was quick, because we were all uptight. Tears were brimming in virtually everybody's eyes, and then, after he snapped that picture, Julie just couldn’t hold in the tears any longer. She rushed over to me and threw her arms around me. She said, "I love you so much, Daddy." Well, by that time, I couldn't say much either.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:35:44
[Frank Gannon]

One of the--one of the most memorable and--and subsequently controversial events of these days was your meeting with Henry Kissinger that night, which ended in your praying with him in the Lincoln Bedroom. Do you remember that night?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:36:02
[Richard Nixon]

Oh, I remember it very well. And he remembers it very well, too, because he's written about it, as I have. What happened is that he came over, and we had to discuss the sending of messages to people around the world we dealt with. There were--I wanted to assure them all that President Ford was a strong man, that he had my total confidence, and that he supported our foreign policy. And so we worked on some of those messages, and then we reminisced about some of the great events of the past. We reminisced, for example, about, particularly, the meeting in that very room three years before, when we got the message about the trip to China, and so I walked down the hall to the kitchen and the same bottle of Courvoisier that we had toasted from three years ago when we got that historic news I found there. Nobody had drunk any th--out of it since then. I brought it back with a couple of snifter glasses, and we proposed the toast, not just to the past but to the future. I must say, we weren't quite as elated this time as we were in--Henry, in his rather gruff way, but very sincere way--he said, "If they continue to harass you," he said, "I will resign, and I will tell the reason why." And then I started to esc--escort him out and almost by emotion--right next to the Lincoln Sitting Room is the Lincoln Bedroom, which, incidentally, used to be the Cabinet Room at one point, or the office. And I said, "Henry, just wait a minute here." I said, "On special occasions in times past, for example before we went to China, before I had a major speech or a major press conference, before we went to Russia, I would stop in this room and have a moment of silent prayer, because I just sort of gathered strength just from being in this room where Lincoln had been." And I asked him to join me, and we knelt quietly, in the Quaker fashion, for a couple of seconds. Got up--I escorted him out. A few minutes later, I felt a little embarrassed about it, because I thought he might have been embarrassed. And I called on the phone, and I said, "Henry, you know that was a very private matter, and I hope it didn't embarra--". He says, "Not at all." He said, "This isn't going to leak." Of course it did. I was not surprised.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:29
[Frank Gannon]

Were you hurt?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:30
[Richard Nixon]

No. I was beyond the point of being hurt then.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:36
[Frank Gannon]

Later, after that meeting, Ron Ziegler came over to go over some of the--the details of the--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:45
[Richard Nixon]

Yes.

[Frank Gannon]

--upcoming speech.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:47
[Richard Nixon]

And then, when--after we--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:48
[Frank Gannon]

Do you remember that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:38:49
[Richard Nixon]

That was--that was not way past midnight, and as Ron was leaving--you know, he had been a loyal f--fellow and so forth and so on, and I sort of thought, "You know, I've really never given him a tour of the upstairs." He'd seen it, of course, but I wanted him to see it through my eyes. So I had all of the lights turned on in the Queen's Bedroom, in the Lincoln Bedroom, and in the yellow oval room, and so forth and so on. And I walked through the rooms and showed them all to him, and explained a little about the history, and finally took him to the elevator. He seemed to be quite moved by it, and he just said, simply--he said, "You've had a great presidency, sir."

Day 7, Tape 3
00:39:32
[Frank Gannon]

On your--on the morning of your last day as president, you met with Vice President Ford. What was that meeting like?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:39:41
[Richard Nixon]

Tough for him, and tougher for me. We had worked together for many years. He came to the Congress only a year after I did. And we had fought in many good battles. We had won most, and lost some as well. I told him I thought the country would be in good hands. I told him that it was very important, I felt, for him to keet [sic] Hen--keep Henry Kissinger. He agreed. He said he thought we had a fine cabinet. And then, as we were leaving, I said, "I'm going to tell you something." I said, "I remember so well the last c--one of the last conversations I had with President Eisenhower, as a matter of fact, the last conversation I had with him before I was inaugurated. He called me on the phone. He said he wanted to wish me well, and then he went on to say, and his voice broke a bit when he said it--he said, "You know, I have only one regret on this great day. This is the last time I can ever call you Dick, Mr. President." And I said, "Jerry, this is the last time I'll call you Jerry, Mr. President." Brought a tear or two to his eyes--I think to mine, too. We shook hands. He left.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:41:04
[Frank Gannon]

Later in the day, General Haig and Ron Ziegler came in and had brought word of a meeting with the special prosecutor, Jaworsky, in which he had said that he thought you were making the right decision to resign, but that--that there would be no deals. How did you respond to that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:41:22
[Richard Nixon]

I don't think it was quite that there would be no deals. As a matter of fact, it was put in a way that he was implying that he would try to do what he could to see to it that there was no further prosecution or harassment and so forth. And based on the previous record, I didn't have much hope that he would accomplish anything. But what irritated me about it was that he th--apparently had coupled the two--that I was resigning so that he would la--lay off of me. I wasn't doing it for that. I--I--I--I sort of --when I--said--uncharacteristically in that period in which I was trying to control emotions, I sort of blew my stack a little, and I said, "You know, suppose you go to prison." I said, "After all, some of the greatest wor--books have been written in prison. Look at Gandhi. Look at Lenin." I don't think either Lenin or Gandhi would appreciate being coupled like that, but I did at that moment. Then afterwards, I said to Ron Ziegler--I said, "Ron"--he was beginning to be rather introspective at the moment--I said, "How can you really support a quitter? Y--say--I know I've got weaknesses, but I've never been a quitter." Said, "Let me tell you what happened to me in my first year as a freshman in college. I went out for track--wasn't fast enough and didn't have the wind enough to do too well, but I ran the mile. And I remember I was in a race, and I was running in last place--no way I could win it--but I wasn't about to be last, and I remember that I sprinted the last fifty yards and finished next-to-last. I just wasn't about to be a quitter."

Day 7, Tape 3
00:43:03
[Frank Gannon]

Do you have any special recollections of the two meetings--you had one with the congressional leadership just before you went to make your resignation speech--one with the congressional leadership, and then one with your supporters from Congress in the Cabinet Room.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:43:16
[Richard Nixon]

Well, the congressional leadership came over to see me in the E.O.B., and it was a very, shall I say, cool meeting--understandably so. I explained to them what I had intended to do. I expressed my s--appreciation for their understanding, for working with me. It was very brief, because these were not particularly people that were--I was very close to. I remember the most understanding one seemed to be--the two. One was Carl Albert. When he came in, he says, "Look, I hope you don't think that I was responsible for this." As you know, it was Tip O'Neill, who was not at this meeting, who had been the lead horse in leading the charge for impeachment. And Jim Eastland was the other. He didn't say much, but you could just see the profound sympathy in the man.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:44:03
[Frank Gannon]

Who were the unsympathetic ones?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:44:04
[Richard Nixon]

I wouldn't say they were unsympathetic. I think, as a matter of fact--let me put it directly. It was hard for me, but it was hard for them, too--for Hugh Scott, that I had known for many years, and Johnny Rhodes, that I had known for many years. Mike Mansfield--I remember so well. I said, "Well, Mike, I'll miss our breakfasts." And he was puffing on his pipe. He just nodded. But as a--looking back on it, I think what happened was that they--they felt a little embarrassed about even being there, embarrassed because it was such a difficult time. And so I closed the meeting mercifully as fast as I could and then went over to the meeting with my supporters.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:44:45
[Frank Gannon]

Do you remember that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:44:46
[Richard Nixon]

The meeting with supporters was in the Cabinet Room. The Cabinet Room normally seats about twenty, and you can put another ten around if you can. This time they crowded fifty-five into it. They had to pull my chair out from the table in order to let me sit down in order to get everybody around it. It was the most emotional meeting, I guess, that we had, even more emotional than the ones with the family, because with the family, we had the understanding and so forth--the--the quiet understanding--we didn't let our emotions get away. But you could just feel the emotion rising and rising. At first, the room was hot, because so many people were in it. I talked about what we had been through, going back over twenty-five, thirty years, the campaigns we had been through. There were Democrats and Republicans there. I expressed appreciation particularly for their support during the tough days in Vietnam, the support of my China initiative, the support on other tough issues. I don't think they were paying much attention to what I said. They f--just felt the tension in the room. I looked across the table, and directly across from me--Les Arends, the whip on the Republican side, my friend for twenty-five years--he started to cry, and he put his head down on his arms and just sobbed. A--and I just can't stand seeing somebody else cry. So I just sort of abruptly quit talking. I choked up. I said, "I just hope I haven't let you down." Of course, I knew I had, and somebody pulled the chair back, and I left the room. Well, I went into the little room aw--away from the Oval Office. The broadcast was to be there for the speech, and I had to speak in fifteen minutes. And Al Haig came in. He--very concerned, because--wondered if I'd get up for it. I apologized to him. I said, "Al," I said, "that's the first time I've shown any emotion, as you know, but I just can't stand seeing other people cry." He said, "Mr. President, every man in that room was deeply moved." I don't know how I got myself together, but I did, and went out and read the speech. And that was the resignation speech of Thursday night.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:47:11
[Frank Gannon]

What did you--what did you do after the speech?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:47:14
[Richard Nixon]

Well, after the speech, I went over to the residence. Henry was very, very thoughtful. He--he came up to me, and he said he'd like to walk to the residence with me. He said, "I've always done this after the big--the important speeches." And as we got to the door of the residence, he said, "Mr. President, history is going to record that you were a great president." I said, "Henry, that'll depend on who writes the history." I went upstairs, and all the family was gathered in the West Hall. And as I came in, David said, "I don't see how you did it! I don't see how you did it!" because he had seen the text in advance. And then suddenly they all got up, and they came around, just surrounded me. It was sort of a huddle, sort of a family embrace, saying nothing, and saying everything. And then Tricia said, "Daddy!" Said, "You're--you're wet! Your coat's wet through!" And I began to have a chill, and what had happened was that the room had been so hot and the tension was so great that I was perspiring clear through the suit--the same suit, incidentally, that I had worn when I had gone to Moscow and spoken on television to the Russian people just in 1972. Well, soon the chill went away, and I went down to the Lincoln Room and made a few calls to people. Heard the chanting outside. Reminded me of the Vietnam days, except this time the chant was "Jail to the Chief! Jail to the Chief!" Didn't bother me, however. You know, after all, I'd been heckled by experts.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:49:01
[Frank Gannon]

What--how did you spend that last--or how did you end that last night?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:49:06
[Richard Nixon]

Well, by the end of the--I--I made calls to people saying goodbye, some of them that I had not been able to see earlier or speak to. And at about two o'clock in the morning, I had Manolo come in, and he--I told him to turn off all the lights. And at about that time, I walked from the Lincoln Bedroom down to my own bedroom in the dark. I wasn't afraid of stumbling. I knew every inch of that house. After all, it had been home for five-and-a-half years. Went to bed. Didn't sleep very well. And I woke up with a start the next morning, the last day, wondering if I'd overslept, and I looked at my watch. It was only four o'clock. Well, I tossed and turned. Then I got up and I walked into the kitchen--thought I'd get a bite to eat, and Johnny Johnson, one of the White House butler [sic], was there, and I said, "Johnny, what are you doing here so early?" He said, "It isn't early, Mr. President." He said, "It's almost six o'clock." And I looked at my watch--as a matter of fact, it's the same watch I have on here, and it's one of those watches, you know, with the battery in it that's supposed to run for two years. The battery had run out, worn out, at four o'clock the last day I was in office. By that time I was worn out, too. So, in any event, I had Johnny--I said, "Johnny, I'm going to have something different." This is about the only really different thing that I did that day from my usual habit. Usually I have a very simple breakfast. For years, I would just have orange juice, cereal, and a glass of milk, or papaya, cereal, and a glass of milk. That's all I had--the same thing day after day for five and a half years, because I'm not supposed to have eggs, because of high chlolesterol [sic] --cholesterol, or some foolish reason, and so forth and so on. Said, "Johnny, I want you to fix me one of my favorite dishes." And so what he did was to make up some corned beef hash with poached eggs. I must say, it was a little too heavy for me to eat much of it, but I enjoyed having it. Went back down to the Lincoln Room, and Al Haig sort of knocked on the door. I think it was perhaps, for him, the most difficult meeting we had, and for me it wasn't easy. He brought one piece of paper. There was one line on it. He said, "You know, we forgot to do this. Would you sign it now?" "I hereby resign the office of president of the United States." I signed it. He took it out. Then I proceeded to work on my farewell remarks, which were going to be extemporaneous. As you know, all extemporaneous speeches, however, require an enormous amount of preparation. And so I worked on that speech until it was time to go down.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:52:08
[Frank Gannon]

How did Mrs. Nixon bear up on this last morning?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:52:15
[Richard Nixon]

Well, after--after we--after Haig had left, and then he came over again to--for a last chat, and I finished my remarks and tried to get them in my head. You see, I'd made this speech without any notes. That was--had been my usual practice. And I walked down to the hall there, and we had to say goodbye first to the White House staff. They're wonderful people, you know. They'd served us for five-and-a-half years with great dedication and great competence. They're all members of our family. As a matter of fact, I remember vividly my meeting one member of that White House staff. He was a very distinguished man--a white-haired black man. His name was Bruce. They always called him Bruce. I always called him "Mr. Bruce." And I remembered on that day, on the Thursday that I came over to prepare for my speech, I got into the elevator, and he was just crying like a baby, and he says, "Oh, Mr. President." And I said, "Mr. Bruce, don't worry. Everything's going to be all right." So we were--talked to the staff a while, and then I noticed that Mrs. Nixon was wearing sunglasses, and I found that what had happened is that after three days and nights of packing, not breaking at all, never showing emotion, she'd finally cried that morning. So then up came, at that very moment, Steve Bull. Steve Bull came up to brief us on the entrance into the Grand Ballroom, where we were to say goodbye to the official administration people, the cabinet and all the other top people in the administration, about three hundred of them. And Steve was giving us--with a little map, as he always did, where we would all stand. And then he said, "Now, the three television cameras will be here," and Mrs. Nixon said, "Not on your life! Not on your life!" She said, "After what they have done to us, I am not going to let them interfere in this last private meeting with our friends." Well, I had to disagree, and I said, "No, we have to do it. We've got to do it for our friends. We've got to do it for the country." And she was a good sport. She did it, and we all walked down together.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:54:43
[Frank Gannon]

How did--how did you feel as you signed the--that one-sentence letter to the secretary of state resigning the presidency of the United States?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:54:54
[Richard Nixon]

I didn't have any special feeling about it then, because I was so numb. After all, in my own mind I had resigned two weeks before. You know, I--oh, I was up and down. I was hoping for a miracle, knowing that I would have to create one, and that it wasn’t any way I was able to do it. And so, from then on, it was simply the water dripping on the rock and wearing it away. And so that was just another drop of water on the rock. It was done then. If it had been a surprising incident, it would have had a reaction. But it didn't have any reaction. Nothing did at that point. I was p--just numb.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:55:33
[Frank Gannon]

Did you use any special pen to sign it?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:55:35
[Richard Nixon]

No. No. Just one of my pens from my pocket.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:55:42
[Frank Gannon]

What do you recall--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:55:44
[Richard Nixon]

It wasn't one of those cases where I wanted a special pen, as we do for bills and so forth and hand them out. I wasn't about--if somebody had suggested a special pen, they would have found their tails right outside that room, and Haig had the good sense not to bring in a special pen. Of course, what they would have wanted--for me to use fifty special pens and give them--give replicas of the pens, or the actual signing pens, to the members of the House Judiciary Committee. And I wasn't about to do that.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:56:15
[Frank Gannon]

What do you recall from your--that East Room speech that last morning before you left the White House?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:56:24
[Richard Nixon]

A very emotional speech. I--I recall speaking from the heart. Tricia later, in her diary, which she let me see, wrote that for the first time she was glad people were able to see Daddy as he really was. Spoke from the heart, thanked them for what they had done, expressed my pride in the fact that in this administration there had never been an example of anybody profiting financially from having served in office, told them that they must not allow what happened to me to discourage them, in effect, that we learn from our defeats, that life isn't over because you suffer a defeat, just some of the philosophical guidelines that have enriched and at some times I think, guided me in my own life. I tried to share them. I spoke to my parents, my--"my old man," as I called him, and my mother. I said my mother was a saint and my old man was not just a common man, he was quite an extraordinary man. And that was about it.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:57:34
[Frank Gannon]

It was noted that in that speech you talked about your father and your mother. You didn't mention Mrs. Nixon. Was there a reason for that?

Day 7, Tape 3
00:57:42
[Richard Nixon]

That's the most fatuous and, I think, disgusting comment I've seen. Look--I had just seen Mrs. Nixon. She had been broke--she had broken into tears. She was emotionally uptight. I wasn't about to mention her or Tricia or Julie and have them break down in front of all the people in the country. That would have destroyed her. She had too much dignity. She was always proud of that. That's why I didn't mention her. She knew that I was mentioning her in my heart. That's what mattered.

Day 7, Tape 3
00:58:16
[Frank Gannon]

Do you know that your--your reticence that you've referred to several times, about public displays of affection, have led to story--you've never said, for example, "I love her," in public. And--

Day 7, Tape 3
00:58:32
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

The following text appears in the original transcript but does not appear on a tape. It has not been edited.

[Frank Gannon]

I think a lot of people, instead of seeing that as privacy and emotional resonance--there are stories that, in fact, you have, and have had for a long time, a loveless marriage, one of convenience, one of necessity, one kept together for the children or politics.

[Richard Nixon]

Look. Whn I hear people slobbering around publicly, "I love her," and all that sort of stuff--that raises a question in my mind as to how much of it is real. It's just the way I am. It's the way she is, too. We just don't go for those public declarations of love. We don't--we don't--

[Frank Gannon]

You love her?

[Richard Nixon]

Of course. I certainly do, and I respect her, too, and she respects me. We don't hold hands in public. Now, I don't--

Day Seven, Tape four of four, LINE FEED #1, 6-10-83, ETI Reel #51
June 10, 1983

Day 7, Tape 4
00:01:07
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

Day 7, Tape 4
00:01:11
[Richard Nixon]

--mind other people doing it, but that's the way we are, and sometimes love, I think, is much greater when you don't make a big point of showing it off and talking about it. It's much deeper, in my view.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:01:25
[Frank Gannon]

Do you think it's a sign of weakness for a man to say that he loves his wife?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:01:29
[Richard Nixon]

It depends on the man. No. I think some people--it's--comes very natural. To me it doesn't. It's just like, for example, in a different way, my talk about religion. Eisenhower used to tell me--"Look, Dick," he said, "you should talk about God more in your speeches. There are a lot of people out there, you know, that believe in religion." And I said, "I can't do it, General." I said, "That just isn't the way I race. I--I'm embarrassed when I do that." I am, I think, quite profoundly religious in my own way, but I don't wear it on my sleeve. I don't say--talk about God. That doesn't mean I don't believe in God, and the same with love. It's just the way we are.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:02:09
[Frank Gannon]

What do you recall the speech over--about your final departure from the White House on August ninth, 1974?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:02:20
[Richard Nixon]

We were then almost past the point of knowing what we were doing. It was--we were, fortunately, guided by the Secret Service and the rest through the crowd. We went down in--to the Diplomatic Reception Room. Jerry Ford--he's still "Jerry" then, he's going to be president in two hours--was standing there. Betty Ford was standing with him. I shook hands with him, and I said, "When I appointed you, I knew that I was going to leave the country in good hands." And he said, "Thank you, Mr. President." And I said, "Goodbye, Mr. President." And then Betty Ford said, "Have a nice trip, Dick," and Mrs. Nixon came through, and we went out to the plane. Julie was not going to be able to go to California with us. Tricia and Ed were, and she was at the bottom, at the ramp leading up to the entrance to the helicopter. He kissed her, got into the helicopter, Mrs. Nixon had already got aboard ahead of me, turned around, and there were all the crowd out there on the lawn, as had been so many cases before, and I kind of raised my hand. I didn't know whether it was a salute or a wave, but that was it. Turned, went in and sat down in the plane, heard the engines whirl up. I closed my eyes. I was pretty tired then, been up all night thinking and so forth. And as the helicopter began to rise, I heard Mrs. Nixon, who was sitting in the seat next to us, speaking to no one in particular, but to everyone. And she said, "It's so sad. It's so sad." And then, as the helicopter went on, I must say, I didn't have any feeling of bitterness or rancor or self-pity. I found myself thinking of what I'd seen in that room. When I made my speech, Herb Stein, marvelous man, great economist, one of the most unemotional men in the world--I remember him--I can see him now, tears just streaming down his cheek. Hard for me to finish the speech without breaking into tears myself. And I thought how much I owed to all of those who had worked so hard, and how much the country owed to them, and how fortunate we were to have such marvelous people, such good people, in our administration. And I--I thought of Julie down there, and Tricia and Ed and Mrs. Nixon, and I--no one, believe me--no one had a finer family. No one could have had a more supportive, loving, kind family, and how s--lucky I was there. And then, as the helicopter moved on to Andrews, it is understandable, I guess, that my thoughts would go to the other times we'd gone to Andrews. We went there on the way to China. We went there twice on the way to Russia, to the Mideast, to Europe, around the world--all the great events and initiatives we were ter--participating in. And I found myself thinking, and this is also rather characteristic of me, not of the past, but of the future. What could I do now? What? It seems presumptuous that I even thought it then. What can I do to see that these great initiatives that we began would continue? And that's the way it was. I think perhaps the--the best description of how I felt then, and--and frankly, maybe it's the description of my philosophy generally, was of a little couplet that I received from Clare Boothe Luce. This is in the spring of 1973. Watergate had just exploded all over the place, and she sent me a--one little card, a three-by-five, with this couplet on it. It was "The Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton," and it read, "I am hurt, but I am not slain. I shall lay me down and bleed awhile. And I shall rise and fight again." That's the story of my life.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:07:06
[Frank Gannon]

You--even at that moment, you were--you were looking ahead and thinking about what some people would describe as a--as a comeback. You say there are--there are no miracles in politics except the miracles that you make, and you weren't able to make a miracle over Watergate. Are you making a miracle now? Are there political miracles ahead for you?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:07:30
[Richard Nixon]

Well, I know that many of my friendly, quote, end quote, "critics" in the media have thoughts that I'm thinking of a comeback in some sinister way. Maybe we could amend the Constitution so that somebody--so that we repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment, which says that one can be elected president only twice, of course, which rules me out as a potential candidate for president. I even saw ridiculous comments to the effect that I might run for Congress in the state of New Jersey or the Senate in the state of New Jersey. My God, I mean, I wouldn't even consider going to the Congress or the Senate at my age. That's for younger people. I would say that my role is--is a very different one, a hard one to fill. Once you've had power and are able to do things about your ideas, it's very difficult just to have ideas and hope that others are going to do something about it. But as long as I'm able to breathe, as long as I'm alive, believe me, I'm going to continue to work for what I think is a real peace--not the sappy kind of peace and simply the absence of war, but a real peace with our adversaries, and also with our friends. Maybe I can contribute something in that way. And that's about it.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:08:51
[Frank Gannon]

A lot of people felt, and, I suspect, still feel, that despite the--the terribly draining and emotional things that you went through over the months leading up to the resignation and then the things you have described about the--the days and the day of the resignation itself--that in all the things you said, you never simply said, "I'm sorry." You--I think people also feel that, at a lot of points, if you had j--gone on television and said, "Lookit. I--I was involved in a lot of these things. There were a lot of things that were wrong. I've got a country to run. If you're going to impeach me, go ahead and do it, but here it all is." But instead you said, "I'm not a crook." And at no point did you say, or have you said that--something as simple, which is that you've said that you won't grovel, and there's--but there's a difference between groveling and being sorry. Are you sorry for it?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:09:50
[Richard Nixon]

My answer to that question and to those who say, "Will you apologize? Are you sorry?" is simply a fact. There's no way that you could apologize that is more eloquent, more decisive, more finite, or to say that you were sorry which would exceed resigning the presidency of the United States. That said it all, and I don't intend to say any more.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:10:24
[Frank Gannon]

How do you think you--how would you like to be remembered in history?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:10:34
[Richard Nixon]

Henry Kissinger said before I left office that he thought history would treat me kindly. No, Henry Kissinger said before I left office that he thought history would rate me as a great president. And my response was that it depended on who wrote the history. A man cannot sit on his own jury. However, if I were to be presenting the case before the jury of history, I think this is what I would say. The instant historians, understandably, are obsessed with Watergate. They see hardly anything else about me except Watergate and rate me very low. I understand that. Historians maybe fifty years from now, I would hope, would see it in more perspective. Yes, there was Watergate, the first president ever to resign the office. That's part of history. But there's also a more positive part. As far as the presidency is concerned, I'm the president that opened relations with China f--after twenty-five years of no communication. I ended a war in Vietnam, in which there were five hundred and fifty thousand Americans there when I came in and none when I left. I ended the draft. I negotiated the first arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. I restored balance to the Supreme Court through my appointments. I initiated programs in the field of the environment and hunger and cancer and drugs that I think are very sound building blocks for the future. These are positive achievements. They must be there, along with the negative ones. And I hope that the jury of history would consider that. I'd say finally, however, that as far as history is concerned, that my proudest legacy is something else. Winston Churchill, in his book Great Contemporaries, wrote of Prime Minister Asquith, great prime minister at the beginning of World War I, and he said his best memorial is his family. And I would say that my best memorial are my children. And I would say that for Mrs. Nixon in spades, because she made them what they are.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:13:14
[Frank Gannon]

It was--it was said of Queen--it was said of Queen Mary Tudor- or--that she said when she died and they opened her up, and--they would find the word "Calais," the town that she had lost in France, written on her heart. What--what would be found written on your heart?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:13:34
[Richard Nixon]

Easy. "Pat."

Day 7, Tape 4
00:13:39
[Frank Gannon]

The--you said--when you were vice president, you said in an interview with Stewart Alsop--you said, "A major public figure is a lonely man. I can't confide absolutely in anyone, even in Pat. It's something like wearing clothing. If you let your hair down, you feel too naked." And Henry Kissinger has written of you, "The essence of the man is loneliness." Do you consider yourself to be a lonely man?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:14:07
[Richard Nixon]

No, I never fret about it. I would say, however, I would be--perhaps amend Dr. Kissinger's comment this way. The essence of virtually every great leader--and I'm not saying I'm great--but the essence of every great leader I have known--he was a lonely man.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:14:33
[Frank Gannon]

In 1972, in China, you told Chou En-lai that what you asked for and hoped of in your life was that you would have --you said--in China in 1972, talking to Chou En-lai, you said that you always learned more from your defeats than from your victories and that you hoped that in--at the end of your life you would be able to say that you had had one more victory than defeat. Do you feel that you can say that?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:15:01
[Richard Nixon]

That will depend on what happens. If, for example, there's a breakthrough in cancer, that's a victory. If, for example, my environmental programs are carried out in a responsible way, that's a victory. If, for example, the China initiative doesn't fall apart, that's a victory. Let me see--if we didn't have the China initiative now, we'd be in terrible trouble. And that's why I'm doing everything I can to keep it together. If, for example, we're able to build in the relationship with the Soviet Union, to reestablish a hard-headed détente, that's a victory. I consider it a victory, in other words, if we move the world toward peace and justice and progress. That's what I live my life for. That's what I think we contributed toward, and that's why, in the balance of my life, to make sure that I come out with one more victory than defeat, I'm going to do everything I can to see that the initiatives we began are not lost, but they are nurtured and that they grow.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:16:01
[Frank Gannon]

Do you consider that you've had a good life?

Day 7, Tape 4
00:16:09
[Richard Nixon]

I don't get into that kind of crap.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:16:13
[Frank Gannon]

Enough said.

Day 7, Tape 4
00:16:17
[Offscreen voice]

Stay there. Don't take your mikes off for one second. I need a shot. Just chat with each other. I need a--I need a shot [unintelligible] a two-shot [unintelligible].

Day 7, Tape 4
00:16:27
[Action note: Gannon has been laughing since his last statement.]

[Frank Gannon]

Well, that's--that's known as answering a question.

[Action note: Sound ends.]

Day 7, Tape 4
00:18:19
[Action note: Screen goes black briefly, then picture reappears on screen.]

Day 7, Tape 4
00:18:52
[Action note: Screen goes black.]

 

Go to: Transcript, Day 8

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