Here is the video clip Nixon's
speech. It is split into three parts. Scroll down for the
It follows the full text transcript of
Richard Nixon's No Whitewash at the White House speech,
aired from the Oval Office at the White House, Washington
D.C. - April 30,
I want to talk to you tonight from my heart on a
subject of deep concern to every American.
In recent months, members of my Administration
and officials of the Committee for the
Re-Election of the President, including some of
my closest friends and most trusted aides, have
been charged with involvement in what has come
to be known as the Watergate affair. These
include charges of illegal activity during and
preceding the 1972 Presidential election and
charges that responsible officials participated
in efforts to cover up that illegal activity.
The inevitable result of these charges has been
to raise serious questions about the integrity
of the White House itself. Tonight I wish to
address those questions.
Last June 17, while I was in Florida trying to
get a few days rest after my visit to Moscow, I
first learned from news reports of the Watergate
break-in. I was appalled at this senseless,
illegal action. And I was shocked to learn that
employees of the Re-Election Committee were
apparently among those guilty. I immediately
ordered an investigation by appropriate
Government authorities. On September 15, as you
will recall, indictments were brought against
seven defendants in the case.
As the investigations went forward, I repeatedly
asked those conducting the investigation whether
there was any reason to believe that members of
my Administration were in any way involved. I
received repeated assurances that there were
not. Because of these continuing reassurances,
because I believed the reports I was getting,
because I had faith in the persons from whom I
was getting them, I discounted the stories in
the press that appeared to implicate members of
my Administration or other officials of the
Until March of this year, I remained convinced
that the denials were true and that the charges
of involvement by members of the White House
Staff were false. The comments I made during
this period, and the comments made by my Press
Secretary in my behalf, were based on the
information provided to us at the time we made
those comments. However, new information then
came to me which persuaded me that there was a
real possibility that some of these charges were
true, and suggesting further that there had been
an effort to conceal the facts both from the
public, from you, and from me.
As a result, on March 21, I personally assumed
the responsibility for coordinating intensive
new inquiries into the matter, and I personally
ordered those conducting the investigations to
get all the facts and to report them directly to
me, right here in this office.
I again ordered that all persons in the
Government or at the Re-Election Committee
should cooperate fully with the FBI, the
prosecutors, and the grand jury. I also ordered
that anyone who refused to cooperate in telling
the truth would be asked to resign from
Government service. And, with ground rules
adopted that would preserve the basic
constitutional separation of powers between the
Congress and the Presidency, I directed that
members of the White House Staff should appear
and testify voluntarily under oath before the
Senate committee which was investigating
I was determined
that we should get to the bottom of the matter,
and that the truth should be fully brought out,
no matter who was involved. At the same time, I
was determined not to take precipitate action
and to avoid, if at all possible, any action
that would appear to reflect on innocent people.
I wanted to be fair. But I knew that in the
final analysis, the integrity of this office,
public faith in the integrity of this office,
would have to take priority over all personal
Today, in one of the most difficult decisions of
my Presidency, I accepted the resignations of
two of my closest associates in the White House,
Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, two of the
finest public servants it has been my privilege
to know. I want to stress that in accepting
these resignations, I mean to leave no
implication whatever of personal wrongdoing on
their part, and I leave no implication tonight
of implication on the part of others who have
been charged in this matter. But in matters as
sensitive as guarding the integrity of our
democratic process, it is essential not only
that rigorous legal and ethical standards be
observed but also that the public, you, have
total confidence that they are both being
observed and enforced by those in authority and
particularly by the President of the United
States. They agreed with me that this move was
necessary in order to restore that confidence.
Because Attorney General Kleindienst, though a
distinguished public servant, my personal friend
for 20 years, with no personal involvement
whatever in this matter, has been a close
personal and professional associate of some of
those who are involved in this case, he and I
both felt that it was also necessary to name a
new Attorney General.
The Counsel to the President, John Dean, has
As the new Attorney General, I have today named
Elliot Richardson, a man of unimpeachable
integrity and rigorously high principle. I have
directed him to do everything necessary to
ensure that the Department of Justice has the
confidence and the trust of every law-abiding
person in this country.
I have given him absolute authority to make all
decisions bearing upon the prosecution of the
Watergate case and related matters. I have
instructed him that if he should consider it
appropriate, he has the authority to name a
special supervising prosecutor for matters
arising out of the case.
Whatever may appear to have been the case
before, whatever improper activities may yet be
discovered in connection with this whole sordid
affair, I want the American people, I want you
to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that during
my term as President, justice will be pursued
fairly, fully, and impartially, no matter who is
involved. This office is a sacred trust and I am
determined to be worthy of that trust.
Looking back at the history of this case, two
questions arise: How could it have happened? Who
is to blame?
Political commentators have correctly observed
that during my 27 years in politics I have
always previously insisted on running my own
campaigns for office.
But 1972 presented a very different situation.
In both domestic and foreign policy, 1972 was a
year of crucially important decisions, of
intense negotiations, of vital new directions,
particularly in working toward the goal which
has been my overriding concern throughout my
political career, the goal of bringing peace to
America, peace to the world.
That is why I decided, as the 1972 campaign
approached, that the Presidency should come
first and politics second. To the maximum extent
possible, therefore, I sought to delegate
campaign operations, to remove the day-to-day
campaign decisions from the President's office
and from the White House. I also, as you recall,
severely limited the number of my own campaign
Who, then, is to blame for what happened in this
case? For specific criminal actions by specific
individuals, those who committed those actions
must, of course, bear the liability and pay the
For the fact that alleged improper actions took
place within the White House or within my
campaign organization, the easiest course would
be for me to blame those to whom I delegated the
responsibility to run the campaign. But that
would be a cowardly thing to do.
I will not place the blame on subordinates, on
people whose zeal exceeded their judgment and
who may have done wrong in a cause they deeply
believed to be right.
In any organization, the man at the top must
bear the responsibility. That responsibility,
therefore, belongs here, in this office. I
accept it. And I pledge to you tonight, from
this office, that I will do everything in my
power to ensure that the guilty are brought to
justice and that such abuses are purged from our
political processes in the years to come, long
after I have left this office.
Some people, quite properly appalled at the
abuses that occurred, will say that Watergate
demonstrates the bankruptcy of the American
political system. I believe precisely the
opposite is true. Watergate represented a series
of illegal acts and bad judgments by a number of
individuals. It was the system that has brought
the facts to light and that will bring those
guilty to justice, a system that in this case
has included a determined grand jury, honest
prosecutors, a courageous judge, John Sirica,
and a vigorous free press.
It is essential now that we place our faith in
that system and especially in the judicial
system. It is essential that we let the judicial
process go forward, respecting those safeguards
that are established to protect the innocent as
well as to convict the guilty. It is essential
that in reacting to the excesses of others, we
not fall into excesses ourselves.
It is also essential that we not be so
distracted by events such as this that we
neglect the vital work before us, before this
Nation, before America, at a time of critical
importance to America and the world.
Since March, when I first learned that the
Watergate affair might in fact be far more
serious than I had been led to believe, it has
claimed far too much of my time and my
Whatever may now transpire in the case, whatever
the actions of the grand jury, whatever the
outcome of any eventual trials, I must now turn
my full attention, and I shall do so, once again
to the larger duties of this office. I owe it to
this great office that I hold, and I owe it to
you, to my country.
I know that as Attorney General, Elliot
Richardson will be both fair and he will be
fearless in pursuing this case wherever it
leads. I am confident that with him in charge,
justice will be done.
There is vital work to be done toward our goal
of a lasting structure of peace in the world,
work that cannot wait, work that I must do.
Tomorrow, for example, Chancellor Brandt of West
Germany will visit the White House for talks
that are a vital element of The Year of Europe,
as 1973 has been called. We are already
preparing for the next Soviet-American summit
meeting later this year.
This is also a year in which we are seeking to
negotiate a mutual and balanced reduction of
armed forces in Europe, which will reduce our
defense budget and allow us to have funds for
other purposes at home so desperately needed. It
is the year when the United States and Soviet
negotiators will seek to work out the second and
even more important round of our talks on
limiting nuclear arms and of reducing the danger
of a nuclear war that would destroy civilization
as we know it. It is a year in which we confront
the difficult tasks of maintaining peace in
Southeast Asia and in the potentially explosive
There is also vital work to be done right here
in America: to ensure prosperity, and that means
a good job for everyone who wants to work; to
control inflation, that I know worries every
housewife, everyone who tries to balance a
family budget in America; to set in motion new
and better ways of ensuring progress toward a
better life for all Americans.
When I think of this office of what it means, I
think of all the things that I want to
accomplish for this Nation, of all the things I
want to accomplish for you.
On Christmas Eve, during my terrible personal
ordeal of the renewed bombing of North Vietnam,
which after twelve years of war finally helped
to bring America peace with honor, I sat down
just before midnight. I wrote out some of my
goals for my second term as President. Let me
read them to you.
To make it
possible for our children, and for our
children's children, to live in a world of
To make this country be more than ever a
land of opportunity, of equal opportunity,
full opportunity for every American.
To provide jobs for all who can work, and
generous help for those who cannot work.
To establish a climate of decency and
civility, in which each person respects the
feelings and the dignity and the God-given
rights of his neighbor.
To make this a land in which each person can
dare to dream, can live his dreams, not in
fear but in hope, proud of his community,
proud of his country, proud of what America
has meant to himself and to the world.
These are great goals. I believe we can, we must
work for them. We can achieve them. But we
cannot achieve these goals unless we dedicate
ourselves to another goal. We must maintain the
integrity of the White House, and that integrity
must be real, not transparent.
There can be no
whitewash at the White House.
We must reform our political process, ridding it
not only of the violations of the law but also
of the ugly mob violence and other inexcusable
campaign tactics that have been too often
practiced and too readily accepted in the past,
including those that may have been a response by
one side to the excesses or expected excesses of
the other side. Two wrongs do not make a right.
I have been in public life for more than a
quarter of a century. Like any other calling,
politics has good people and bad people. And let
me tell you, the great majority in politics in
the Congress, in the Federal Government, in the
State government, are good people. I know that
it can be very easy, under the intensive
pressures of a campaign, for even
well-intentioned people to fall into shady
tactics, to rationalize this on the grounds that
what is at stake is of such importance to the
Nation that the end justifies the means. And
both of our great parties have been guilty of
such tactics in the past.
In recent years, however, the campaign excesses
that have occurred on all sides have provided a
sobering demonstration of how far this false
doctrine can take us. The lesson is clear.
America, in its political campaigns, must not
again fall into the trap of letting the end,
however great that end is, justify the means.
I urge the leaders of both political parties, I
urge citizens, all of you, everywhere, to join
in working toward a new set of standards, new
rules and procedures to ensure that future
elections will be as nearly free of such abuses
as they possibly can be made. This is my goal. I
ask you to join in making it America's goal.
When I was inaugurated for a second time this
past January 20, I gave each member of my
Cabinet and each member of my senior White House
Staff a special 4-year calendar, with each day
marked to show the number of days remaining to
the Administration. In the inscription on each
calendar, I wrote these words:
Presidential term which begins today
consists of 1,461 days. No more, no less.
Each can be a day of strengthening and
renewal for America; each can add depth and
dimension to the American experience.
If we strive
together, if we make the most of the
challenge and the opportunity that these
days offer us, they can stand out as great
days for America, and great moments in the
history of the world.
I looked at my own calendar this morning up at
Camp David as I was working on this speech. It
showed exactly 1,361 days remaining in my term.
I want these to be the best days in America's
history, because I love America. I deeply
believe that America is the hope of the world.
And I know that in the quality and wisdom of the
leadership America gives lies the only hope for
millions of people all over the world that they
can live their lives in peace and freedom. We
must be worthy of that hope, in every sense of
Tonight, I ask for
your prayers to help me in everything that I do
throughout the days of my Presidency to be
worthy of their hopes and of yours.
God bless America and God bless each and every
one of you.