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ran out in the middle of a conversation with Mr. Kleindienst in the middle of the afternoon, Sunday 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 the tape.
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 available.
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 svstem 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 cquipment. but I found--and I am not saving that critically-hut 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, bu 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 tipes 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 pcople, they will prove these things without question:
One, that I had no knowledge whatever of the Watergale 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 hy any member of my staff but it was, on occasion, suggested as a result of news reports that clemency might become a factor.
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 \Ir. 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 Varch, and I will reveal this much of the conversation-I am sure the judge wouldn't mind.
I recall very well Vir. Dean, after the conversation began, telling me, “Vr. 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 Jay 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 the tapes.
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 Presidext. 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 nie 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 inportant 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 coverup-that, of course, is there.
The tapc of March 13, where it has been testitied, 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 available.
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 wislı 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.
Q. Mr. President, John Dougherty (Rochester TimesUnion), 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 case?
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, hecause 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.
the ycar 1971. I may have met him. I have never talked to him personally and certainly have never talked to him about this malter. I refuse to because I want him to be completely independent.
He cannot be removed unless there is a consensus of the top leadership of both the House and Senate, Democrat and Republican: the Speaker and the Vajority 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 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 threc, 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 donc, 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 conclusion.
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 lcast 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.
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, lo your credibility on this matter?
Tue 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 his always supported the Democratic ticket. He is a highly respected lawyer, former president of the ABA in
Q. Mr. President, I'm Bob Haiman from the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida. When Mr. Ehrlichman and lir. Haldeman left vour :Idministration, 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
37-434 0.74 - 6
and been revealed since then, do you still feel the same way about both nien 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 newspaper man and newspaper woman in this whole audicnce 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, be
se, unfortunately, they have already been convicted in the minds of millions of Americans by what happened before a Senate committee.
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.
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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 thatthank you for correcting me.
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. '72 was a very busy year for me. It was a year when we had the visit to China, it was a ycar when we had the visit to Moscow and the first liniited nuclear ban on dcfensive 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 bonibing and mining of Haiplong 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.
Q. May I ask one other question, sir?
Tue PRESMENT. I, of course, do not. I have waived escrutive privilege with regard to all of the members of my start who have any knowledge of or who have had any charges made against them in the Watergato matter. I have, of counc, voluntarily waiveel privilege with regard In turning over the tapes, and so forih.
Let mc 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 inportant.
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 Supremc 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, 100, 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 commitrees of Congress, when they want information from his personal files. Jefferson, as you know, in that very, very
had correspondence which it was felt inight 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 refused.
What he did was to turn over a summary of the correspondence, all that he considered was proper to be turned over for the purposcs of the trial.
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 now 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 participation.
I will come to you next, sorry.
Q. Mr. President, Larry Allison 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, you said, but there were reports in newspapers that linked people very high in your staff with 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 rcason 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 information where members of my staff did not have information.
9 Presidential Documents 1345-53
Presidential Tapes and Documents
The President's Letter to Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, in Response to the Commiltee's Subpoenus. January 4, 1974
As you are aware, substantial nunibers of materials have been provided to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for possib!c use with grand jurics. With respect to whatever portions of the materials covered by your subpoena may be relevant to matters now subject to grand jury investigation, and potentially, criminal trials, disclosures to you, and through you to the public, could seriously impair the ability of the Office of the Special Prosecutor to complete its invauigations and successfully prosecute the criminal cases which may arise from the grand juries.
Incurring these adverse consequences by complying with your subpoena would, on the other hand, serve no legislative purpose which I can discern.
I recognize that in the current environment, there may be some attempt to distort my position as only an effort to withhold information, but I take this position to protect the Office of the President against incursions by another Branch, which I believe, as have my predecessors in office, is of utmost Constitutional importance.
Accordingly, in order to protect the fundamental structure of our government of three separate but equal Branches, I must and do respectfully decline to produce the materials called for in your subpoenas. Sincerely,
Dear Mr. Chairman:
This letter is in response to the three subpoenas issued by you as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities and received on my behalf by White House Counsel on December 19, 1973.
These subpoenas call upon the President to produce all of the material in his "custody or possession, or the custody of the Executive Office of the President, or the White House, actual or constructive ..." which are described in extensive attachments. Only six months ago, your Committee concluded that recordings of five conversations were necessary for your legislative determination. Now, in one subpoena alone, you list, with widely varying precision, some 492 personal and telephone conversations of the President ranging in time from mid-1971 to late 1973 for which recordings and related documents are sought; and, in addition, in the same subpoena, recordings and related documents are sought for categories of Presidential conversations, identified only by participants and time spans measured in months and years. A second subpoena secks production of thirty-seven categories of documents or materials, one of which is 'President Richard Nixon's Daily Diary' for January 1, 1970, to December 19, 1973," a period of approximately four years.
As I stated in my letter to you of July 6, 1973, “Formulation of sound public policy requires that the President and his personal staff be able to communicate among themselves in complete candor, and that their tentative judgments, their exploration of alternatives, and their frank comments on issues and personalities at home and abroad remain confidential.” I anticipated that even quite limited, selected disclosures of Presidential recordings and documents "would inevitably result in the attrition, and the eventual destruction of the indispensable principle of confidentiality of Presidential papers."
To produce the material you now seek would unquestionably destroy any vestige of confidentiality of Presidential communications, thereby irreparably impairing the constitutional functions of the Office of the Presidency. Neither the Judiciary nor the Congress could survive a similar power asserted by the Executive Branch to rummage through their files and confidential processes. Under the circumstances, I can only view your subpoena as an overt attempt to intrude into the Executive to a degree that constitutes an unconstitutional usurpation of power.
RICHARD NIXON (The Honorable Sam J. Ervin, Jr., Chairman, Select Committee on Presidential Campaigo Activities, United States Senate, Wash. ington, D.C. 205101 NOTE: The text of the letter, was released at San Clemente, Calif.
10 Presidential Documents 11-12