Here is a tiny video excerpt of Nixon's answers. Scroll down
for the transcript.
It follows the full text transcript of
Richard Nixon's Question-and-Answer Session at
the Annual Convention of the Associated Press Managing
Editors Association, held at the Contemporary Hotel at Walt
Disney World in Orlando, Florida - November 17, 1973.
[president of the Associated Press Managing
Editors Association] and Ladies and Gentlemen:
When Jack Horner,
who has been a correspondent in Washington and
other places around the world, retired after 40
years, he once told me that if I thought that
the White House press corps answered (asked)
tough questions, he (I) should hear the kind of
questions the managing editors asked him.
Consequently, I welcome this opportunity tonight
to meet with the managing editors of the
I will not have an opening statement, because I
know, with 400 of you, it will be hard to get
through all of the questions you have. And I
understand the president has a prerogative of
asking the first question.
Q & A
WATERGATE AND THE
Q. [Mr. Quinn:] Mr. President, this morning,
Governor Askew of Florida addressed this group
and recalled the words of Benjamin Franklin.
When leaving the Constitutional Convention he
was asked, "What have you given us, sir, a
monarch or a republic?" Franklin answered, "A
republic, sir, if you can keep it."
Mr. President, in the prevailing pessimism of
the lingering matter we call Watergate, can we
keep that republic, sir, and how?
The President: Well, Mr. Quinn, I would
certainly not be standing here answering these
questions unless I had a firm belief that we
could keep the republic, that we must keep it,
not only for ourselves but for the whole world.
I recognize that because of mistakes that were
made-and I must take responsibility for those
mistakes--whether in the campaign or during the
course of an administration, that there are
those who wonder whether this republic can
survive. But I also know that the hopes of the
whole world for peace, not only now but in the
years to come, rests in the United States of
America. And I can assure you that as long as I
am physically able to handle the position to
which I was elected, and then reelected last
November, I am going to work for the cause of
peace in the world, for the cause of prosperity
without war and without inflation at home, and
also to the best of my ability to restore
confidence in the White House and in the
President himself. It is a big job, but I think
it can be done, and I intend to do it.
Q. Mr. President, I am George Gill of the
Louisville Courier-Journal. Would you please
tell us, sir, when did you personally discover
that two of the nine subpoenaed White House
tapes did not exist, and why did you apparently
delay for a matter of weeks disclosing this
matter to the Federal court and to the public?
The President: Well, the first time that the
fact that there were no recordings of the two
conversations to which you referred--that they
did not exist--came to my attention on
approximately September 29 or September 30.
At that time, I was informed only that they
might not exist, because a search was not made,
because seven of the nine recordings requested
did exist, and my secretary, listening to them
for me and making notes for me, proceeded to go
through those seven tapes.
I should point out, incidentally, that the two
which did not exist, in which there were no tape
recordings of the conversations, were not ones
that were requested by the Senate committee, and
consequently, we felt that we should go forward
with the ones that were requested by both the
Senate committee and the others.
When we finally determined that they could not
be in existence was on October 26 of this year.
And we learned it then when I directed the White
House Counsel, Mr. Buzhardt, to question the
Secret Service operatives as to what had
happened to make sure that there might not be a
possibility, due to the fact that the mechanism
was not operating properly, that we might find
them in some other place.
He questioned them for 2 days and reported on
the 27th that he could not find them. He then,
having had a date made-and he asked for the date
sooner with Judge Sirica, he asked for a date on
Thursday, you may recall I pointed that out in
my press conference on the 26th-- Judge Sirica
saw him on Tuesday in camera. The White House
Counsel reported to Judge Sirica that the two
tapes did not exist and gave him the reasons for
The judge decided, and I think quite properly,
that the reasons for the tape not existing
should be made public and those involved with
access to the tapes and those who operated the
machines should be questioned so that there
would be no question of the White House,
somebody around the President, or even the
President himself, having destroyed evidence
that was important, even though the Senate
committee had not, as I have already pointed
out, subpoenaed either of these two tapes.
And since we are on this subject, and I do not
want to be taking all of the time on it except
that I know there is going to be enormous
interest in it, not only among this audience
here but among our television viewers, let me
point this out: I have done everything that I
possibly can to provide the evidence that would
have existed had we found the tapes.
First, with regard to the tape of June 20, as
you may recall, it was a 5-minute telephone
conversation with the former Attorney General,
John Mitchell, who had just left as campaign
manager or was planning to leave as campaign
manager at that time.
I have a practice of keeping a personal diary--I
can assure you not every day. Sometimes you are
too tired at the end of a day to either make
notes or dictate it into a dictabelt.
On that particular day, I happened to have
dictated a dictabelt, and on the dictabelt for
June 20, which I found, I found that I had
referred to the conversation to John Mitchell.
And I think it is fair to disclose to this
audience what was there, because it will be
disclosed to the court. It has already been
offered to the court and eventually, I assume,
will be made public.
It said, first, that I called John Mitchell to
cheer him up, because I knew he was terribly
disheartened by what had happened in the
so-called Watergate matter. Second, he expressed
chagrin to me that the organization over which
he had control could have gotten out of hand in
this way. That was what was on that tape.
Now, turning to the one on April 15, I thought
that I might have a dictabelt of that
conversation as well.
Let me tell you first why the telephone
conversation was not recorded. Not because of
any deliberate attempt to keep the recording
from the public, but because the only telephones
in the residence of the White House which are
recorded-the only telephone, there is only one,
is the one that is in the office, the little
Lincoln Sitting Room right off the Lincoln
Bedroom. The call I made to John Mitchell was
made at the end of the day at about 6: 30, just
before going into dinner from the family
quarters, and no telephones in the family
quarters ever were recorded. That is why the
recording did not exist.
Turning to April 15, the conversation referred
to there was at the end of the process in which
Mr. Dean came in to tell me what he had told the
U.S. attorneys that day. He saw me at 9 o'clock
at night, Sunday night. There should have been a
recording. Everybody thought there probably was
a recording. The reason there was not a
recording is that the tape machines over the
weekend only can carry 6 hours of conversation,
and usually that is more than enough, because I
do not use the EOB office--that is, the
Executive Office Building office rather than the
Oval Office---over the weekend to that extent.
But that weekend, I was in the EOB for a long
conversation with Dr. Kissinger on foreign
policy matters. I was there for e other hours,
or 2 or 3 other hours, and the tape ran out in
the middle of a conversation with Mr.
Kleindienst in the middle of the afternoon,
And a later conversation I had--the rest of
Kleindienst's conversation--a later conversation
I had also with Mr. Petersen, and the
conversation at 9 o'clock at night with Mr. Dean
was not there.
So, I tried to find whatever recording, whatever
record that would help the prosecutor in this
instance to reconstruct the evidence, because it
was the evidence that he was after and not just
What I found was not a dictabelt. What I found
was my handwritten notes made at the time of the
conversation. I have turned those over to or
have authorized my Counsel to turn those notes
over to the judge so that he can have them
checked for authenticity, and I understand there
are ways that he can tell that they were written
at that time. Those handwritten notes are
And then I did one other thing which I think
will also be helpful. The next day, I had a
conversation with Mr. Dean in the morning at 10
o'clock. That conversation was recorded, and in
that conversation there are repeated references
to what was said the night before, and when
compared with my handwritten notes it is clear
that we are discussing the same subjects.
That entire tape, as well as the conversation I
had in the afternoon with Mr. Dean for about 20
minutes, will be made available to the court
even though the court has not subpoenaed them.
I would just simply say in conclusion, you can
be very sure that this kind of a subject is one
that is a difficult one to explain. It appears
that it is impossible that when we have an
Apollo system that we could have two missing
tapes when the White House is concerned. Let me
explain for one moment what the system was. This
is no Apollo system. I found that it cost--I
just learned this--$2,500. I found that instead
of having the kind of equipment that was there
when President Johnson was there, which was
incidentally much better equipment, but I
found-and I am not saying that critically--but I
found that in this instance it was a Sony, a
little Sony that they had, and that what they
had are these little lapel mikes in my desks.
And as a result the conversations in the Oval
Office, the conversations in the Cabinet Room,
and particularly those in the EOB--those are the
three rooms, only those three rooms, where they
recorded--for example, the Western White House
had no recording equipment, and my house in Key
Biscayne had none--but as far as those
particular recordings are concerned, the reason
that you have heard that there are difficulties
in hearing them is that the system itself was
not a sophisticated system.
I do not mean to suggest by that that the judge,
by listening to them, will not be able to get
the facts, and I would simply conclude by saying
this: I think I know what is on these tapes from
having listened to some, those before March 21,
and also from having seen from my secretary's
notes the highlights of others. And I can assure
you that those tapes, when they are presented to
the judge and, I hope, eventually to the grand
jury--and I trust, in some way we can find a way
at least to get the substance to the American
people--they will prove these things without
One, that I had no knowledge whatever of the
Watergate break-in before it occurred.
Two, that I never authorized the offer of
clemency to anybody and, as a matter of fact,
turned it down whenever it was suggested. It was
not recommended by any member of my staff, but
it was, on occasion, suggested as a result of
news reports that clemency might become a
And third, as far as any knowledge with regard
to the payment of blackmail money, which, as you
recall, was the charge that was made, that Mr.
Hunt's attorney had asked for $ 120,000 in money
to be paid to him or he would tell things about
members of the White House Staff, not about
Watergate, that might be embarrassing.
Testimony had been given before the Senate
committee that I was told that before the 21st
of March, actually told it on the 13th of March.
I know I heard it for the first time the 21st of
March, and I will reveal this much of the
conversation--I am sure the judge wouldn't mind.
I recall very well Mr. Dean, after the
conversation began, telling me, "Mr. President,
there are some things about this I haven't told
you. I think you should know them." And then he
proceeded then for the first time to tell me
about that money.
Now, I realize that some will wonder about the
truth of these particular statements that I have
made. I am going to hand out later--I won't hand
them out, but I will have one of your executives
hand out--my May 22 statement, my August 15
statement, and one with regard to these two
tapes. You can believe them if you want--I can
tell you it is the truth, because I have
listened to or have had knowledge of, from
someone I have confidence in, as to what is in
Q. Mr. President, Richard Tuttle, Democrat and
Chronicle, Rochester, New York. Could you tell
us your personal reaction and your political
reaction--and within that word I mean your
credibility with the American people--your
reaction to the discovery that the Dean and
Mitchell tapes did not exist?
The President: Well, my personal reaction was
one of very great disappointment, because I
wanted the evidence out, and I knew that when
there was any indication that something didn't
exist, immediately there would be the impression
that some way, either the President or, more
likely, perhaps, somebody on the President's
staff, knew there was something on those tapes
that it wouldn't be wise to get out. But let me
point out again, while I was disappointed, let
me say I would have been a lot more disappointed
if the tapes that had been considered important
by both Mr. Cox, the Special Prosecutor, and the
Ervin committee, if any one of those had been
missing, because I should point out the tape of
September 15 when, as you recall, has been
testified that I was first informed there was a
cover-up--that, of course, is there.
The tape of March 1, where it has been
testified, as I pointed out in the answer to the
Louisville Courier-Journal, where it has been
testified that I was informed then of the
demands for money for purposes of blackmail,
that is available. And the tape of March 21,
where we discussed this in great detail, as well
as three other tapes in which Mr. Dean
participated, three other conversations, are all
But as far as these two tapes are concerned,
even though they were not considered by the
Ervin committee to be an indispensable part of
their investigation, the fact that they were not
there was a great disappointment, and I just
wish we had had a better system---I frankly wish
we hadn't had a system at all, then I wouldn't
have to answer this question.
THE ELLSBERG CASE
Q. Mr. President, John Dougherty [Rochester
Times-Union]. Did you tell Mr. Cox to stay out
of the Ellsberg case, and if you did, why, and
do you think that the new Special Prosecutor
should be kept from investigating the Ellsberg
The President: I have never spoken to Mr. Cox at
all; as a matter of fact, however, I did talk to
Mr. Petersen about it, before Mr. Cox took over.
I told Mr. Petersen that the job that he
had--and I would have said the same thing to Mr.
Cox--was to investigate the Watergate matter,
that national security matters were not matters
that should be investigated, because there were
some very highly sensitive matters involved, not
only in Ellsberg but also another matter so
sensitive that even Senator Ervin and Senator
Baker have decided that they should not delve
further into them.
I don't mean by that that we are going to throw
the cloak of national security over something
because we are guilty of something. I am simply
saying that where the national security would be
disserved by having an investigation, the
President has the responsibility to protect it,
and I am going to do so.
STATUS OF THE WATERGATE
Q. Paul Poorman from the Detroit News. Are you
personally satisfied, sir, that the
investigation of the Watergate matter is
complete, to your satisfaction, and if so, could
you tell us what your plans are to tell the
American people about the facts of the case with
regard, again, to your credibility on this
The President: First, with regard to whether the
investigation is complete, as you know, there is
now a new Special Prosecutor, Mr. Jaworski. He
is a Democrat. He has always supported the
Democratic ticket. He is a highly respected
lawyer, a former president of the ABA in the
year 1971. I may have met him. I have never
talked to him personally and certainly have
never talked to him about this matter. I refuse
to because I want him to be completely
He cannot be removed unless there is a consensus
of the top leadership of both the House and the
Senate, Democrat and Republican: the Speaker and
the majority and minority leaders of the House
and the President pro tem, the majority and
minority leaders of the Senate and the ranking
two members of the Judiciary Committees of both
the House and the Senate, which, incidentally,
gives you, as you can see, a very substantial
majority as far as the Democrats are concerned.
The second point, and the point I am trying to
make is: one, he is qualified; two, he is
independent and will have cooperation; and
three, he will not be removed unless the
Congress, particularly the leaders of the
Congress and particularly the Democratic leaders
who have a strong majority on this group that I
have named, agree that he should be removed, and
I do not expect that that time will come.
As to what I can tell the American people, this
is one forum, and there may be others. As to
what the situation is as to when it can be done,
it is, of course, necessary to let the grand
jury proceed as quickly as possible to a
conclusion. And I should point out to you, as
you may recall, Mr. Petersen testified before
the Ervin committee that when he was removed
from his position--you recall he was removed in
April, and a Special Prosecutor was put in--that
the case was 90 percent ready. For 6 months,
under the Special Prosecutor who was then
appointed, the case has not been brought to a
And I think that now, after 6 months of delay,
it is time that the case be brought to a
conclusion. If it was 90 percent finished in
April, they ought to be able to finish it now.
Those who are guilty, or presumed to be guilty,
should be indicted. Those who are not guilty at
least should get some evidence of being cleared,
because in the meantime, the reputations of men,
some maybe who are not guilty, have been
probably irreparably damaged by what has
happened in the hearings that they have appeared
before publicly. They have already been
convicted and they may never recover. And that
isn't our system of government.
The place to try a man or a woman for a crime is
in the courts and not to convict them either in
the newspapers or on television before he has a
fair trial in the courts.
JOHN EHRLICHMAN AND H.
Q. Mr. President, I'm Bob Haiman from the St.
Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida.
When Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Haldeman left your
Administration, you said they were guiltless in
the Watergate affair, and they were, quote, two
of the finest public servants you had ever
known, end quote. After what has transpired and
been revealed since then, do you still feel the
same way about both men and both statements?
The President: First, I hold that both men and
others who have been charged are guilty until I
have evidence that they are not guilty, and I
know that every newspaperman and newspaperwoman
in this whole audience would agree with that
statement. That is our American system. Second,
Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Ehrlichman had been and
were dedicated, fine public servants, and I
believe, it is my belief based on what I know
now, that when these proceedings are completed
that they will come out all right.
On the other hand, they have appeared before the
grand jury before, they will be appearing again,
and as I pointed out in answer to an earlier
question, it probably does not make any
difference, unfortunately, whether the grand
jury indicts them or not, whether they are tried
or not, because, unfortunately, they have
already been convicted in the minds of millions
of Americans by what happened before a Senate
FURTHER QUESTIONS ON
THE ELLSBERG CASE
Q. Mr. President, this is Ed Heins from the Des
Moines Register and Tribune. At the time you
gave Egil Krogh approval for the Dr. Ellsberg
project, was there any discussion of
surreptitious entry to any premises, and was
there any discussion of legality or illegality
in that situation?
The President: I think, sir, that you have made
an assumption that Mr. Krogh and others have not
testified to--I am not saying that critically,
but I think I do remember what the evidence is.
I don't think Mr. Krogh has said, or Mr.
Ehrlichman or anybody else, that I specifically
approved or ordered the entrance into Dr.
Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. As a matter of
fact, on the other hand, I learned of that for
the first time on the 17th of March, which I
have stated in my August 15 statement, which
will be available to the members of the press
when this meeting is concluded.
Second, with regard to such activities, I
personally thought it was a stupid thing to do,
apart from 'being an illegal thing to do. And
third, I should also point out that in this
particular matter, the reason that Mr. Krogh and
others were engaged in what we call the
"plumbers operation" was because of our concern
at that time about leaks out of our
Government--the Pentagon Papers, which is, you
recall, what Ellsberg was all about, as well as
other leaks which were seriously damaging to the
national security, including one that I have
pointed out that was so serious that even
Senator Ervin and Senator Baker agreed it should
not be disclosed. That is what they were working
THE PRESIDENT'S INCOME
Q. Joe Ungaro of the Providence Evening
Bulletin. The Journal-Bulletin on October 3
reported that you paid $792 in Federal income
tax in 1970, and $878 in 1971. Are these figures
accurate, and would you tell us your views on
whether elected officials should disclose their
The President: Well, the answer to the second
question is I have disclosed my personal
finances, and an audit of my personal finances
will be made available at the end of this
meeting, because obviously you are all so busy
that when these things come across your desk,
maybe you don't see them. I can simply point out
that that audit I paid for--I have not gotten
the bill yet but I know it is several thousands
of dollars--and I think that that audit is one
that is a pretty good one. That audit, however,
deals with the acquisition of my property and
knocks down some of the ideas that have been
around. But since this question has been raised,
let me, sir, try to respond to it as fully as I
I paid $79,000 in income tax in 1969. In the
next 2 years, I paid nominal amounts. Whether
those amounts are correct or not, I do not know,
because I have not looked at my returns, and
obviously the Providence Journal has got much
better sources than I have to find such returns.
And I congratulate you, sir, for having such a
Now, why did I pay this amount? It was not
because of the deductions for, shall we say, a
cattle ranch or interest or, you know, all of
these gimmicks that you have got where you can
deduct from, which most of you know about, I am
sure--if you don't, your publishers do. But the
reason was this: Lyndon Johnson came in to see
me shortly after I became President. He told me
that he had given his Presidential papers, or at
least most of them, to the Government. He told
me that under the law, up until 1969,
Presidential or Vice Presidential papers given
to the Government were a deduction, and should
be taken, and could be taken as a deduction from
And he said, "You, Mr. President, ought to do
the same thing." I said, "I don't have any
Presidential papers." He said, "You have got
your Vice Presidential papers."
I thought of that a moment and said, "All right,
I will turn them over to the tax people." I
turned them over. They appraised them at
$500,000. I suppose some wonder how could the
Vice President's papers be worth that. Well, I
was, shall we say, a rather active Vice
President. All of my personal notes, including
matters that have not been covered in my
book-which I don't advise other people to write,
but in any event I wrote one and I will stand by
it--all of my papers on the Hiss case, on the
famous fund controversy in 1952, on President
Eisenhower's heart attack, on President
Eisenhower's stroke, on my visit to Caracas when
I had a few problems in 1968 , and on my
visit with Khrushchev, all of those papers, all
of my notes, were valued, many believe
conservatively, at that amount.
And so, the tax people who prepared it prepared
the returns and took that as a deduction. Now,
no question has been raised by the Internal
Revenue about it, but if they do, let me tell
you this: I will be glad to have the papers
back, and I will pay the tax because I think
they are worth more than that.
I can only say that we did what we were told was
the right thing to do and, of course, what
President Johnson had done before, and that
doesn't prove, certainly, that it was wrong,
because he had done exactly what the law
Since 1969, of course, I should point out
Presidents can't do that. So I am stuck with a
lot of papers now that I have got to find a way
to give away or otherwise my heirs will have a
terrible time trying to pay the taxes on things
that people aren't going to want to buy.
CORRECTION OF EARLIER
Mr. Quinn: Mr. President, may I suggest that you
may have misspoke yourself when you said that
you assumed Haldeman and Ehrlichman are
considered guilty until proven not guilty.
The President: Yes, I certainly did, if I said
that. Thank you for correcting me.
DEMANDS ON THE
Q. Richard Smyser, from the Oak Ridger in Oak
Ridge, Tennessee. Senator Mark Hatfield said
recently that we demand so much of a President,
we ask him to play so many roles that no man can
hold that kind of responsibility without having
to share that responsibility with all Americans.
To what extent do you think that this explains
possibly how something like Watergate can occur?
The President: I could stand here before this
audience and make all kinds of excuses, and most
of you probably would understand because you are
busy also. Nineteen hundred seventy-two was a
very busy year for me. It was a year when we had
the visit to China. It was a year when we had
the visit to Moscow and the first limited
nuclear ban on defensive weapons, you recall, as
well as some other very significant events.
It was a year, too, when we had the very
difficult decisions on May 8, the bombing and
mining of Haiphong and then the negotiations and
then in December, of course, the very, very
difficult--perhaps the most difficult--decision
I made of the December bombing, which did lead
to the breakthrough and the uneasy peace, but it
is peace with all of the Americans home, all of
our POW's home, and peace at least for a while
in that period.
Now, during that period of time, frankly, I
didn't manage the campaign. I didn't run the
campaign. People around me didn't bring things
to me that they probably should have, because I
was frankly just too busy trying to do the
Nation's business to run the politics.
My advice to all new politicians, incidentally,
is always run your own campaigns. I used to run
mine, and I Was always criticized for it,
because, you know, whenever you lose you are
always criticized for running your own campaign.
But my point is, Senator Hatfield is correct.
Whether you are a Senator or a Congressman, you
are sometimes very busy, you don't watch these
things. When you are President, you don't watch
them as closely as you might. And on that, I say
if mistakes are made, however, I am not blaming
the people down below. The man at the top has
got to take the heat for all of them.
[To the next questioner] Let me just respond, if
I could, sir, before going to your question--I
will turn left and then come back to the right;
I don't want to tilt either way at the moment,
as you can be sure--since the question was
raised a moment ago about my tax payments.
I noted in some editorials and perhaps in some
commentaries on television, a very reasonable
question. They said, you know, "How is it that
President Nixon could have a very heavy
investment in a fine piece of property in San
Clemente and a big investment in a piece of
property in Florida," in which I have two
houses, one which I primarily use as an office
and the other as a residence, and also an
investment in what was my mother's home, not
very much of a place but I do own it--those
three pieces of property.
I want to say first, that is all I have. I am
the first President since Harry Truman who
hasn't owned any stock since ever I have been
President. I am the first one who has not had a
blind trust since Harry Truman. Now, that
doesn't prove that those who owned stocks or had
blind trusts did anything wrong. But I felt that
in the Presidency it was important to have no
question about the President's personal
finances, and I thought real estate was the best
place to put it.
But then, the question was raised by good
editorial writers--and I want to respond to it
because some of you might be too polite to ask
such an embarrassing question--they said, "Now,
Mr. President, you earned $800,000 when you were
President. Obviously, you paid at least half
that much or could have paid half that much in
taxes or a great deal of it-how could you
possibly have had the money? Where did you get
And then, of course, overriding all of that is
the story to the effect that I have a million
dollars in campaign funds, which was broadly
printed throughout this country with retractions
not quite getting quite as much play as the
printing of the first, and particularly not on
television. The newspapers did much better than
television in that respect, I should point out.
And second, they said, "How is it that as far as
this money is concerned, how is it possible for
you to have this kind of investment when all you
earned was $800,000 as President?"
Well, I should point out I wasn't a pauper when
I became President. I wasn't very rich as
Presidents go. But you see, in the 8 years that
I was out of office--first, just to put it all
out and I will give you a paper on this, we will
send it around to you, and these figures I would
like you to have, not today, but I will have it
in a few days--when I left office after 4 years
as a Congressman, e years as a Senator, and 8
years at $45,000 a year as Vice President, and
after stories had been written, particularly in
the Washington Post to the effect that the
[Vice] President had purchased a mansion in
Wesley Heights and people wondered where the
money came from, you know what my net worth was?
Forty-seven thousand dollars total, after 14
years of Government service, and a 1958
Oldsmobile that needed an overhaul.
Now, I have no complaints. In the next 8 years,
I made a lot of money. I made $250,000 from a
book and the serial rights which many of you
were good enough to purchase, also. In the
practice of law--and I am not claiming I was
worth it, but apparently former Vice Presidents
or Presidents are worth a great deal to law
firms--and I did work pretty hard.
But also in that period, I earned between
$100,000 and $250,000 every year.
So that when I, in 1968, decided to become a
candidate for President, I decided to clean the
decks and to put everything in real estate. I
sold all my stock for $300,000--that is all I
owned. I sold my apartment in New York for
$300,000--I am using rough figures here. And I
had $100,000 coming to me from the law firm.
And so, that is where the money came from. Let
me just say this, and I want to say this to the
television audience: I made my mistakes, but in
all of my years of public life, I have never
profited, never profited from public service--I
have earned every cent. And in all of my years
of public life, I have never obstructed justice.
And I think, too, that I could say that in my
years of public life, that I welcome this kind
of examination, because people have got to know
whether or not their President is a crook. Well,
I am not a crook. I have earned everything I
SURVEILLANCE OF DONALD
Q. Mr. President, Harry Rosenfeld of the
Washington Post. Sir, there have been reports
that the Secret Service was asked, at your
direction or authorization, to tap the telephone
of your brother, Donald Nixon. Is this true,
sir, and if so, why?
The President: That, of course, is a question
that has been commented upon before. It will not
take long to respond, to it. The Secret Service
did maintain a surveillance. They did so for
security reasons, and I will not go beyond that.
They were very good reasons, and my brother was
aware of it. And may I say, too, to my friend
from the Washington Post, I like your sport
page. [Laughter] And also, be sure Povich
[Shirley Povich was a sportswriter and columnist
for the Washington Post] isn't paid too much for
what I just said then.
Q. Sir, Edward Miller [Call-Chronicle
Newspapers], Allentown, Pennsylvania. Was your
brother aware before, or after, the fact of the
The President: Before or after the fact?
The President: He was aware during the fact,
because he asked about it, and he was told about
it. And he approved of it. He knew why it was
Q. Excuse me. Does it make any sense to conduct
surveillance when somebody knows about it?
The President: Does it make any sense?
Certainly. The surveillance involved not what he
was doing. The surveillance involved what others
who were trying to get him, perhaps, to use
improper influence, and so forth, might be
doing, and particularly anybody who might be in
a foreign country.
COMMUNICATION OF THE
Q. Is some of this a full story that you say you
can't say now, today, because of national
security? Have you told that to Congressmen or
anyone else? Will this story come out in the
next few weeks as you present more of the facts?
The President: Yes, as a matter of fact, I
should tell all of the editors--and I don't want
to leave any implication that you have not tried
to publish as much as you could, you have just
got so much room in your newspapers, but I do
want you to know that--well, since you haven't
raised some of these subjects, I will raise them
myself: ITT; how did we raise the price of
milk--I wish somebody would ask me that one--and
who else wanted it raised; what about the
situation with regard to the .. million secret
stock portfolio that you have; a few of those
things. I think all of those things need to be
answered and answered effectively, and I think
the best way to answer them-twofold:
One, obviously through the medium of a televised
conference like this; but two, through sending
to the editors of the Nation's newspapers, all
10,000 of them, the facts. I trust that you will
use them. And if you don't believe them, I don't
mean-what I mean, I am not suggesting that you
wouldn't believe them--but if you feel you need
more information, write to me and I will give it
to you. I want the facts out, because the facts
will prove that the President is telling the
SHIELD LAW FOR
Q. Mr. President, John Finnegan, St. Paul
Dispatch-Pioneer Press. I know the Watergate
situation has raised questions of executive
privilege, and a recent Gallup poll indicated
that 62 percent of the American people will
favor a confidential news source law if adopted
by Congress. There is a two-tiered law now
before the Judiciary Committee which would
provide an absolute privilege in case of
investigative or grand jury hearings, and a
qualified shield in case of a civil or criminal
case. If such a law were passed, would you sign
it or veto it?
The President: Well, you are talking about
shield laws in general, are you not?
The President: Well, my attitude toward the
shield laws briefly is this: First, I share the
objective. I believe that reporters, if you are
going to have a free press, ought to have some
kind of a shield, except of course, if they are
involved in criminal activities, and then I
don't think the shield law that any of you have
suggested would cover those. As I understand, if
there are criminal activities involved in by a
reporter, obviously a shield law can't protect
The second point, however, has to do with the
particular legislation and how it reaches my
desk, and I will have to take a look at it when
it gets there to see if it is proper. If it is
proper, I will sign it. But I think that a
shield law which would have the effect of
providing to reporters what the general public
felt, after they had a chance to consider it
all--provide for them privileges that went
beyond what the general public thought was in
the national interest, then I would have to take
a second look.
Now, incidentally, I should point out, too, that
I followed your editorials--not yours in just
the St. Paul paper, but others around the
country--and the newspapers in this country are
not united on this. So, on the shield law I am
not trying to duck the question--it is an open
But I will answer one thing I think is
important. The new Attorney General, Mr. Saxbe,
under my directions, will follow this practice:
Any Federal case involving a reporter will not
be brought unless it comes expressly to the
Attorney General and he approves it, because
that way, that is a pretty good shield, I think.
Q. May I ask one other question, sir?
The President: Sure.
Q. Do you feel that the executive privilege is
The President: I, of course, do not. I have
waived executive privilege with regard to all of
the members of my staff who have any knowledge
of or who have had any charges made against them
in the Watergate matter. I have, of course,
voluntarily waived privilege with regard to
turning over the tapes, and so forth.
Let me point out it was voluntary on my part,
and deliberately so to avoid a precedent that
might destroy the principle of confidentiality
for future Presidents, which is terribly
If it had gone to the Supreme Court-and I know
many of my friends argued, "Why not carry it to
the Supreme Court and let them decide it?"--that
would, first, have had a confrontation with the
Supreme Court, between the Supreme Court and the
President. And second, it would have established
very possibly a precedent, a precedent breaking
down constitutionality that would plague future
Presidencies, not just President.
I could just say in that respect, too, that I
have referred to what I called the Jefferson
rule. It is the rule, I think; that we should
generally follow--a President should
follow--with the courts when they want
information, and a President should also follow
with committees of Congress, when they want
information from his personal files.
Jefferson, as you know, in that very, very
famous case, had correspondence which it was
felt might bear upon the guilt or innocence of
Aaron Burr. Chief Justice Marshall, sitting as a
trial judge, held that Jefferson, as President,
had to turn over the correspondence. Jefferson
What he did was to turn over a summary of the
correspondence, all that he considered was
proper to be turned over for the purposes of the
And then Marshall, sitting as Chief Justice,
ruled for the President.
Now, why did Jefferson do that? Jefferson didn't
do that to protect Jefferson. He did that to
protect the Presidency. And that is exactly what
I will do in these cases. It isn't for the
purpose of protecting the President; it is for
the purpose of seeing that the Presidency, where
great decisions have to be made--and great
decisions cannot be made unless there is very
free flow of Conversation, and that means
confidentiality--I have a responsibility to
protect that Presidency.
At the same time, I will do everything I can to
cooperate where there is a need for Presidential
I will come to you next, sorry.
PROSPECTS FOR GAS
Q. Mr. President, Murray Light, Buffalo Evening
News. The American people, sir, are very
interested in one subject other than Watergate.
The President: Really? [Laughter]
Q. Is gas
The President: I didn't hear the last, I am
Q. Is gas rationing imminent?
The President: I will tell you a little about my
career that I didn't put in my campaign folders
when I ran for Congress in 1946. I was once in
OPA [Office of Price Administration], and I was
in tire rationing. I suppose they put me in tire
rationing--this is just before I went into the
service; I was waiting for my service
call--because I had worked in a service station.
But I didn't know anything about tire rationing
and neither did the man above me who I don't
think had ever been in a service station, but we
put out the rationing regulations on tires, and
we were as fair as we could be. But also, I
found that if you get a bunch of government
bureaucrats--and in order to have rationing you
would have to have thousands of them--making
decisions with regard to who is going to get
this much, this much, 'this much in rationing,
if you are going to try to do that in peacetime
when you do not have what we had in wartime, you
know, support for, you know--"Don't use a C
ration card when you are only entitled to an
A"--then you were sort of disloyal or something,
or unpatriotic. If you do not have that behind
it, I can assure you that a rationing system in
peacetime, run by a group of well-intentioned
but being bureaucrats that they are, gaining and
feeling their power, would be something that the
American people would resent very, very much.
Now, what we have asked the Congress for is for
a contingency plan in the event that rationing
becomes necessary. But in the meantime, let me
tell you, our goal is to make it not necessary.
I am not going to pledge to this audience and I
am not going to pledge to the television
audience that rationing may never come. If you
have another war in the Mideast, if you have a
complete cutoff and not a resumption of the flow
of oil from the Mideast, or some other disaster
occurs, rationing may come. But if, on the other
hand, the things that I recommended in my
message of a week ago for immediate action, if
the voluntary cooperation of keeping the speed
down to 50 miles an hour--and I am going to talk
to the Governors about that on Tuesday in
Memphis, urging that every State do exactly the
same thing--if we cut back on the aircraft
flights, and we have done that--and, for
example, I came down here in a plane today, Air
Force One. I asked them if I couldn't take the
Jetstar. They said, "No, it doesn't have
communications." So, I had to take the big
plane. But we did one thing that saved half the
cost: We didn't have the backup plane. Secret
Service didn't like it, Communications didn't
like it, but I don't need a backup plane. If
this one goes down, it goes down--and then they
don't have to impeach. [Laughter]
Q. Mr. President, Larry Allusion from the Long
Beach, California, Independent Press-Telegram.
Back to Watergate. Former Attorney General John
Mitchell has testified that the reason he did
not give you details on the Watergate problems
was that you did not ask him.
Now, I realize that you were very busy at that
time, as you said, but there were reports in
newspapers that linked people very high on your
staff with the Watergate problems. Could you
tell us, sir, why you did not ask Mr. Mitchell
what he knew?
The President: For the very simple reason that
when I talked to Mr. Mitchell, and I saw him
often in that period, that I had every reason to
believe that if he were involved, if he had any
information to convey, he would tell me. I
thought that he would. As a matter of fact, when
I called him on the telephone, what did he
say--he expressed chagrin that anything like
that could have happened in his organization.
Looking back, maybe I should have cross-examined
him and said, "John, did you do it?" I probably
should have asked him, but the reason I didn't
is that I expected him to tell me, and he had
every opportunity to and decided he wouldn't,
apparently. At least--now, that doesn't mean to
tell me that he was involved, because you
understand that is still a matter that is open.
The question is whether he could have told me
'about other people that might be involved where
he had in. formation where members of my staff
did not have information.
THE ENERGY CRISIS
Q. I am Joe Shoquist, Milwaukee Journal. Why
didn't the Administration anticipate the energy
crisis several years ago, formulate a positive
action plan to do something about it?
The President: You walked into one there. And
that is a great paper, incidentally, as is the
Milwaukee Sentinel. But anyway, seriously, you
see, what happened was that I sent the first
energy message ever sent to the Congress. I sent
it to the Congress over 2 years ago. I saw this
thing coming. And you know why I saw it coming?
Not because of the Mideast or the Alaska
pipeline and the rest, but because this world
with all of its problem is getting richer. Oh, I
don't mean there aren't a lot of hungry people
not only in America, too many here, but if you
want to see hungry people, go to India or go to
some of the countries in Latin America or upper
Brazil, et cetera, et cetera. But generally, as
the world gets richer, there is more
air-conditioning, there is more need for power,
and there is more need for energy. And that is
why I sent the message 2 years ago and asked at
that time that the Congress consider a program
so that the United States should become
self-sufficient in energy. All right, I followed
that up this year in April before we even knew
there might be or had any idea that---of the
Mideast crisis, which made a serious problem, a
serious crisis. I asked them for seven pieces of
legislation to deal with energy. One has reached
my desk, the Alaska pipeline. I signed it. The
other six--I hope they act before they go home
Now, I am not saying here the Congress is to
blame, the President should have done something.
What I do say is that the President warned about
it, and the Congress did not act, even though he
warned 2 years ago. The President warned in
April, the Congress did not act, and now it is
time for the Congress to get away from some of
these other diversions, if they have time, and
get on to this energy crisis.
Let me just--since that question has come up--I
would like to point out, though, how we should
react, because the question about rationing is
one that your average reader is going to be
I am interested in it, too, because I remember
how we all went through it, the carpools and all
that sort of thing. There are a few of you here
old enough to remember a carpool, I am sure.
Taxicabs in Washington: You couldn't get one
unless five of you rode in one, you remember?
We don't want that. But if we look at this
energy crisis as simply the crisis of this year,
we could not make a greater mistake. If there
had never been a Mideast war, there would have
been an energy crisis eventually. That is why I
have set as a goal for the American people--and
I trust all of you will subscribe to it--what I
call "Project Independence 1980."
Why 1980, and why not 1976? Because in checking
with the experts, I find that it will not be
possible, doing everything that we can do, to
become self-sufficient in energy until 1980. But
if the Congress cooperates, if the Nation
cooperates, this Nation in 1980 can have all the
energy we need.
Let me just briefly tell you what areas of
cooperation are needed.
One, coal. We have half the coal in the world,
and yet, we have conversions from coal to oil.
Why? Because coal is not a clean fuel. Coal can
be made a clean fuel. Coal can be mined in a way
that does not despoil the landscape. Oh, it will
be argumentative--I am sure that some of the
environmentalists--and I am an environmentalist
along with anybody who cares about the future
for our children-will object, but we have got to
get that coal out of the ground, and we have to
develop the shale oil, for example, that exists
in Colorado and some of our Western States. That
will solve part of the problem.
And second, you have to deregulate natural gas.
Some protection for the consumer, yes. But you
have got wells in Louisiana and other places
that are shut down and many that are not being
explored because the price is held at a price
too low to make the explorer have a profit. And
therefore, he isn't going to do it. And natural
gas, as you know, is one of the cleanest fuels
we can possibly have.
And then third, the most exciting of all,
nuclear power. Now, don't write an editorial on
this--you are really going to catch it from your
readers if you do, because it scares people.
Nuclear power-- they think of the bomb. They
think of the possibility that one of them is
going to blow up. My house in San Clemente is
just 12 miles from the Southern California
Edison Company's nuclear power plant. It is
safe. It produces good power. It is clean power.
And the United States, which first found the
secret of the atom, is behind where it ought to
be in the development of nuclear power.
If we go all out in developing our coal
resources, our natural gas resources, as well
as, of course, our oil from Alaska which will
provide one-third--I said incorrectly the other
day in talking to a group not one-third of all
of our oil needs, but one-third of all of our
oil imports-and if we add to that, nuclear
power, the United States in 1980 can be
self-sufficient. Just closing that off, let me
tell you why that is so terribly important. "The
Arabs," they say, "well, the Arabs, maybe they
are irrational, and we should not depend on them
Let me tell you, when you are in trouble, don't
depend on anybody but yourself. Venezuela? What
is going to happen in Venezuela? They send us a
lot of oil, but they could change their minds
under a radical government, and they could get
one, one day. I don't think so, but they could.
What about Canada, our great friends to the
north? A lot of Canadians are listening here,
but I can tell you, your present Minister of the
Interior, or whatever, in charge of oil--he is a
tough guy, and they drive hard bargains, and I
guess we would, too, if we were Canadians.
My point is, the United States of America, as
the greatest industrial power of the world, with
7 percent of the world's people and using 30
percent of the world's energy, shouldn't have to
depend on any other country for energy that
provides our jobs and our transportation and our
light and our heat. We can become
self-sufficient, this is a great project, and I
am going to push it.
Q. Mr. President, I am John Chandley of the
Kansas City Times. Not being a member of the
Washington press corps, I am not going to ask
when you are going to retire, but I am going to
ask you, when you do leave the White House, what
do you plan to do?
The President: I think that depends on when I
leave. No, seriously, I know that this group has
asked very good questions and very appropriate
ones. I was hoping you would ask me about the
milk, would you mind asking me about the milk?
Q. I don't know anything about the milk.
The President: I will answer this, and then I
will go to the milk, in the back.
As far as retirement, at that time I understand
I will be 63 years of age, and I am relatively
healthy at the present time. I don't know how
healthy I will be then.
Among the things I will not do, I will not
practice law, I won't go on any board of
directors. I will tell you, after being
President, you never want to sit at any other
end of the table, and being on a board of
directors it pays well, but it is rather boring.
That is, at least, what I found when I was Vice
President, not out of any conceit or anything,
it is just the fact boards of directors are
fine, but I don't think for former Presidents.
What I probably will do is to do a little
writing. I will not do any speaking. I have made
enough speeches in a year to last most people
for a lifetime, particularly my audiences.
And so, under the circumstances, what probably
will do will be, do some writing and, perhaps,
contribute to bettering the political process.
Let me just say this: Neither party is without
fault in the campaign of 1972--quite a bit of
violence on the other side, I never spoke
anyplace without getting a pretty good working
Neither party was without fault with regard to
the financing. They raised $36 million, and some
of that, like some of ours, came from corporate
sources and was illegal because the law had been
changed, and apparently people didn't know it.
And as far as Congressmen and Senators are
concerned, they will all tell you that with the
new laws and so forth, there ought to be some
I think that if we can't get the Congress to act
on the proposal I gave to them 6 months ago to
provide a commission to set up new rules for
campaign contributions-limiting them--new rules
for campaign procedures, then after I leave
office, I am going to work for that, because I
don't want to be remembered as the man who maybe
brought peace for the first time in 12 years,
who opened to China, who opened to Russia, maybe
avoided a war in the Mideast, maybe, if we can
continue it, cut unemployment down for the first
time in 18 years for the first time in peacetime
it is down to 4 1/2 percent. It was never at
that level, never below 5 percent in the
sixties, any time in the sixties-neither the
Kennedy nor the Johnson Administration-except
during the war years.
I want to be remembered, I would trust, as a
President that did his best to bring peace and
also did his best to bring a degree of
prosperity, perhaps a contribution in the energy
field, in the environmental field, but also one
who did his best, when his own campaign got out
of hand, to do everything possible to see that
other campaigns didn't get out of hand in the
future. Now we will go to the milk case.
THE MILK CASE
Mr. Quinn: Mr. President, APME would like to ask
you about the milk case, but our 60-minute
commitment of time has run out. APME appreciates
your appearance before us this evening, and we
The President: I will take the time.
Televisions, keep me on just a minute.
Mr. Quinn: Thank you.
The President: It is a lousy movie anyway
The reason the milk case question, and this will
be the one I will take, ought to be asked as it
is, is that just some awful nice people are
getting a bad rap about it. And I am not
referring about myself. I am referring about
people in the Administration. They have had John
Connally [Secretary of the Treasury 1971-1972]
down. They have run him around the track. I
guess they are going to have Cliff Hardin
[Secretary of Agriculture 1969-1971] down, and
Pete Peterson [Secretary of Commerce 1972], and
all the rest.
The whole charge
is basically this: that this Administration in
1971 raised the support price for milk as a quid
pro quo for a promise by the milk producers that
they would contribute substantial amounts,
anywhere from $100,000 to $2 million to $10
million, to our campaign.
Now, that is just not true. I will tell you how
it happened, I was there. Cliff Hardin, in the
spring of that year, came in and said, "The milk
support prices are high enough." I said, "All
right, Cliff, that is your recommendation, the
Department of Agriculture?" He said, "Yes."
Within three weeks after he had made that
announcement, Congress put a gun to our head.
Let me tell you what it was. Republicans?
Unh-unh. One hundred and two Members of Congress
signed a petition demanding not 85 percent of
parity, but a 90 percent support price, and 28
Members of the Senate, most of them Democrats,
including Senator McGovern, signed a petition
demanding, a petition, or signed a bill, which
would have made the milk support price between
85 and 90 percent.
So, I talked to my legislative leaders, and I
said, "Look here, what I am concerned
about--what I am concerned about--is what people
pay for that milk, and I don't want to have that
price jigged up here if we can keep it and get
the supply with the present support price." You
know what I was told. They said, "With the kind
of heat that we are getting from the Congress,
there is no way that you are not going to get on
your desk a bill--and they will be able to
override your veto---that wall raise the support
price probably to 90 percent." So, we said 85
And that is why it was done and that is the
Well, thank you very much, gentlemen. I guess
that is the end.