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To my regret, the Special Prosecutor rejected this pro posal. Nevertheless, it is my judgment that in the present circumstances and existing international environment, it is in the overriding national interest that a constitutional confrontation on this issue be avoided. I have, therefore, instructed White House counsel not to seek Supreme Court review from the decision of the Court of Appeals. At the same time, I will voluntarily make available to Judge Sirica--and also to the Senate Select Committee a statement of the Watergate-related portions of the tapos, prepared and authenticated in the fashion I have described.
I want to repeat that I have taken this step with the greatest reluctance, only to bring the issue of Watergate tapes to an end and to assure our full attention to more pressing business affecting the very security of the nation. Accordingly, though I have not wished to intrude upon the independence of the Special Prosecutor, I have felt it necessary to direct him, as an employee of the executive branch, to make no further attempts by judicial process to obtain tapes, notes, or memoranda of Presidential con: versations. I believe that with the statement that will be provided to the court, any legitimate need of the Special Prosecutor is fully satisfied and that he can proceed to obtain indictmenis against those who may have como mitted any crimes. And I believe that by these actions I have taken today America will be spared the anguish of further indecision and litigation about tapes.
Our constitutional history reflects not only the language and inferences of that great document, but also the choices of clash and accommodation made by respon. sible leaders at critical moments. Under the Consoitus tion it is the duty of the President to see that the laws of the Nation are faithfully executed. My actions today are in accordance with that duty, and in that spirit of accommodation.
9 Presidential Documents 1265-66
THE PRESIDENT'S NEWS CONFERENCE OF
OCTOBER 26, 1973
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Today White House counsel contacted Judge Sirica-we tried yesterday, but he was in Boston, as you know—and arrangements were made to meet with Judge Sirica on Tuesday to work out the delivery of the tapes to Judge Sirica.
WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
Also, in consultations that we have had in the White House today, we have decided that next week the Acting Attorney General, Mr. Bork, will appoint a new special prosecutor for what is called the Watergate matter. The special prosecutor will have independence. He will have total cooperation from the executive branch, and he will have as a primary responsibility to bring this matter which has so long concerned the American people, bring it to an expeditious conclusion, because we have to remember that under our Constitution it has always been held that justice delayed is justice denied. It is time for those who are guilty to be prosecuted, and for those who are innocent to be cleared. And I can assure you ladies and gentlemen, and all of our listeners tonight, that I have no greater interest than to see that the new special prosecutor has the cooperation from the executive branch and the independence that he needs to bring about that conclusion.
And now I will go to Mr. Cormier (Frank Cormier, Associated Press].
2. Mr. President, would the new special prosecutor have your go-ahead to go to court if necessary to obtain evidence from your files that he felt were vital?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Cormier, I would anticipate that that would not be necessary. I believe that as we look at the events which led to the dismissal of Vlr. Cox, we find that these are matters that can be worked out and should be worked out in cooperation and not by having a suit filed by a special prosecutor within the executive branch against the President of the United States.
This, incidentally, is not a new attitude on the part of a President. Every President since George Washing. ton has tried to protect the confidentiality of Presidential conversations, and you remeinber the fainous case involving Thomas Jefferson where Chief Justice Marshall, then sitting as a trial judge, subpoenaed the letter which Jefferson had written which Marshall thuight or felt was necessary evidence in the trial of Aaron Burr. Jefferson refused to do so but it did not result in a suit. What happened was, of course, a comproinise in which a summary of the contents of the letter which was relevant in the trial was produced by Jefferson, and the Chief Justice of the United States, acting in lus capacity as Chiel Justice, accepted that.
That is exactly, of course, what we tried to co in this instant case.
I think it would be well if I could take just a moment, Mr. Cormier, in answcring your question to point out what we tried to do and why we feel it was the proper solution to a very aggravating and diNicult problem.
The matter of the tapes has been one that has concerned ine because of my fceling that I have a constitutional responsibility to deiend the Office of the Presidency from üny encroachments on confidentiality which might affcct future Presidents in their abilities to conduct the kind of conversations and discussions they need to conduct to carry on the responsibilities of this Office. And, of course, the special prosecuter felt that he needed the tapes for the purpose of his prosecution.
That was why, working with the Attorney General, we worked out what we thought was an acceptable compro mise, one in which Judge Stennis, now Senator Stennis, would hear the tapes and would provide a complete and full disclosure, not only to Judge Sirica, but also to the Senate Committee.
Attorney General Richardson approved of this propo sition. Senator Baker, Senator Ervin approved of the proposition, Mr. Cox was the only one that rejected it.
Under the circumstances, when he rejected it and indicated that despite the approval of the Attorney General, of course, of the President, and of the two major Senators on the Enin Committee, when he rejected the proposal, I had no choice but to dismiss him.
Under those circumstances, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Ruckelshaus felt that because of the nature of their confirmation that their commitment to Mr. Cox had to take precedence over any commitment they might have to carry out an order from the President.
Under those circumstances, I accepted with regret the resignations of two fine public servants.
Now we come to a new special prosecutor. We will cooperate with him, and I do not anticipate that we will come to the tinie when he would consider it necessary io take the President to court. I think our cooperation wili be adequate.
Q. This is perhaps another way of asking Frank's question, but if the special prosecutor considers that information contained in Presiderlial documents is needed to prosecute the Watergate case, will you give him the documents, beyond the ninc tapes which you have already given him?
THE PRESIDENT. I have answered that question before. We will not provide Presidential documents to a special prosecutor. We will provide, as we have in greai numbers, all kinds of documents from the White House, but if it is a document involving a conversation with the President, I would have to stand on the principle of confidentiality. However, information that is needed from such documents would be provided. That is what we have been trying to do.
Q. Mr. President, you know in the Congress there is a great deal of suspicion over any arrangement which will permil the executive branch to investigate itself or which will establish a special prosecutor which you may fire again. And 53 Senators, a majority, have now cosponsored a resolution which would permit Judge Sirica to establish and name an independent prosccuror, separate and apart from the White House and the executive branch. Do you believe this arrangenient would be consiitutional, and would you go along with it?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would suggest that the action that we are going to take, appointing a special prosecutor, would be satisfactory to the Congress, and that they would not proceed with that particular matter.
Mr. Rather (Dan Rather, CBS News).
far as the tapes are concerned, rather than heing in dcfiance of the law, I am in compliance with the law.
As far as what goes through my mind, I would simply say that I intend to continue to carry out, to the best of my ability, the responsibilities I was elected to carry out last November. The events of this past week--I know, for example, in your head office in New York, some thought that it was simply a blown-up exercise; there wasn't a real crisis. I wish it had been that. It was a real crisis. It was the most difficult crisis we have had since the Cuban confrontation of 1962.
But because we had had our initiative with the Soviet Union, because I had a basis of communication with Mr. Brezhnev, we not only avoided a confrontation, but we moved a great step forward toward real peace in the Mideast.
Now, as long as I can carry out that kind of responsibility; I am going to continue to do this job.
Q. Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Jr. Lisagor (Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News].
Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you could share with us your thoughts, tell us what goes through your mind when you hear people, people who love this country, and people who believe in you, say reluctantly that perhaps you shouid resign or be impeached.
THE PRESIDEXT. Well, I am glad we don't take the vote of this room, let me say. And I understand the feel. ings of people with regard io impeachment and resignation. As a matter of fact, Mr. Rather, you may remem. ber that when I made the rather difficult decisionthought the most difficult decision of my first term-on December 13, the bombing by B-52's of North Vietnamthat exactly the same words were used on the networks, I don't mean by you, but they were quoted on the networks—that were used now: tyrant, dictator, he has lost his senses, he should resign, he should be impeached.
But I stuck it out, and as a result of that, we not only got our prisoners of war home, as I have often said, on their feet rather than on their knees, but we brought peace to Vietnam, somcthing we haven't had and didn't for over
Q. There have been reports that you felt that Mr. Cox was somehow out to get you. I would like to ask you
if you did feel that, and if so, what evidence did you have?
The President. Mr. Lisagor, I understand Mr. Cox is going to testify next week under oath before the Judiciary Committee, and I would suggest that he perhaps would be better qualified to answer that question.
As far as I am concerned, we had cooperated with the Special Prosecutor. We tried to work out in a cooperative way this matter of the production of the tapes. He seemed to be more interested in the issue than he was in a settlement, and under the circumstances, I had no choice but to dismiss him. But I am not going to ques. tion his motives as to whether or not he was out to get me. Perhaps the Senators would like to ask that question.
It was a hard decision, and it was one that many of my friends in the press who had consistently supported me on the war up to that time disagreed with. Now, in this instance I realize there are people who feel that the actions that I have taken with regard to the dismissal of Mr. Cox are grounds for impeachrnent.
I would respectfully suggest that even Mr. Cox and. Ir. Richardson have agreed that the President had the right, constitutional right, to dismiss anybody in the Federal Goverument, and second, I should also point out that as
Q. Mr. President, in 1968, before you were elected, you wrote that too many shocks can drain a nation of its energy and even cause a rebellion against creative change and progress. Do you think America is at that point now?
THE PRESIDENT. I think that many would speculateI have noted a lot on the networks particularly and somietimes even in the newspapers. But this is a very strong country, and the American people, I think, can ride through the shocks that they have
The difference now from what it was in the days of shochs, even when Vr. Liszgor and I first met 25 years ag, is the electronic media. I have never heard or scen such outrageous, vicious, distorted reporting in 27 years of public life. I am not blaming anybody for that. Perhaps what happened is that what we did brought it about, and therefore, the media decided that they would have to take that particular line.
But when people are pounded night after night with that kind of frantic, hysterical reporting, it naturally shakes their confidence. And yet, I should point out that cven in this week, when many thought that the President was shell-shockcd, unable to act, the President acted decisively in the interests of peace, in the interests of the country, and I can assure you that whatever shocks gentlemen of the press may have, or others, political people, these shocks will not affect me in my doing my job.
Q. Last May you went before the American people and you said executive privilege will not be invoked as to any testimony concerning possible criminal conduct or discussing of possible criminal conduct, including the Watergate affair and the alleged coverup.
If you have revised or modified this position, as you seem to have done, could you explain the rationale of a law-and-order Administration covering up evidence, prima facie evidence, of high crimes and misdemeanors?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I should point out that perhaps all of the other reporters in the room are aware of the fact that we have waived executive privilege on all individuals within the Administration. It has been the greatest waiver of executive privilege in the whole history of this Nation.
And as far as any other matters are concerned, the matters of the tapes, the natiers of Presidential conversations, those are matters in which the President has a responsibility to defend this office, which I shall continue to do.
MR. CORVIER. Thank you, Mr. President. NOTE: President Nixon's thirty-filch n.ws conference was held at 7:01 p.m. on Friday, October 26, 1973, in the Eas: Room at the White Piouse. It was broadcast live un radio and Television.
Q. Mr. President, after the tapes are presented to Judge Sirica and they are processed under the procedure outlined by the U.S. Court of Appeals, will you make those tapes public?
The President. No, that is not the procedure that the court has ordered, and it would not be proper. Judge Sirica, under the Circuit Court's order, is to listen to the tapes, and then is to present to the grand jury the pertinent evidence with regard to its investigation. Publication of the tapes has not been ordered by the Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Sirica, of course, would not do anything that would be in contravention of what the Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered.
Q. Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. ter Horst (J. F. ter Horst, Detroit News).
9 Presidential Documents 1287,