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OCTOBER 5, 1972

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Q. Mr. President, don't you think that your Administration and the public would be served considerably and that the men under indicement would be treated better, if you people would come through and make a clean breast about what you were trying to get done at the Watergate?

THE PRESIDENT. One thing that has always puzzled me about it is why anybody would have tried to get anyo thing out of the Watergate. But be that as it may, that decision having been made at lower levels, with which I had no knowledge, and, as I pointed out

Q. Surely you know now, sir.

THE PRESDENT. Just a minute. I certainly sed that under the circumstances that we have got to look at what has happened and to put the matter into perspective.

Now when we talk about a clean breast, let's look at what has happened. The FBI assigned 133 agents to this investigation. It followed out 1,800 leads. It conducted 1,500 interviews.

Incidentally, I conducted the investigation of the Hiss case. I know that is a very unpopular subject to raise in some quarters, but I conducted it. It was successful. The FBI did a magnificient job, but that investigation, involve ing the security of this country, was basically a Sunday school exercise compared to the amount of effort that was put into this.

I agreed with the amount of effort that was put into it. I wanted every lead carried out to the end because I wanted to be sure that no member of the White House staff and no man or woman in a position of major responsibility in the Committee for Re-election had anything to do with this kind of reprehensible activity.

Now, the grand jury has handed down indictments. It has indicted incidentally two who were with the Committee for the Re-election and one who resused to cooperate and another who was apprehended. Under these circumstances, the grand jury now having acted, it is now time to have the judicial process go forward and for the evidence to be presented.

I would say finally with regard to commenting on any of those who have been indicted, with regard to saying anything about the judicial process, I am going to follow the good advice, which I appreciate, of the members of the press corps, my constant, and I trust will always continue to be, very responsible critics.

I stepped into one on that when you recall I made inadvertently a comment in Denver about an individual who had been indicted in California, the Manson case. I was vigorously criticized for making any comment about the case, and so of course, I know you would want me to follow the same single standard by not commenting on this

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about the Watergate case and the FBI-White House

relationship. Would you object to that? NEWS CONFERENCE OF


Q. Why? MARCH 2, 1973

THE PRESIDENT. Well, because it is executive privilege. I mean you can't-1, of course-no President could cret agree to allow the Counsel to the President to go down and testify before a committee.

On the other hand, as far as any committee of the Con* *

gress is concerned, where information is requested that

a member of the White House Staff may have, we will Q. Mr. President, now that the Watergate case is over, make arrangements to provide that information, but the trial is over, could you give us your view on the verdict members of the White House Staff, in that position at and what implications you see in the verdict on public least, cannot be brought before a Congressional commitconfidence in the political system?

tee in a formal hearing for testimony. I stand on the same THE PRESIDENT. No, it would not be

position there that every President has stood on.

proper to comment on the case when it not only is not over, but

REPORTER. Thank you, Nr. President. particularly when it is also on appeal.

Q. Mr. President, on that particular point, if the Coun. I will simply say with regard to the Watergate case

sel was involved

THE PRESIDENT. He always gets two. (Laughter) what I have said previously, that the investigation conducted by Mr. Dean, the White House Counsel, in which,

Q. --if the Counsel was involved in an illegal or imincidentally, he had access to the FBI records on this


proper act and the prima facie case came to light, then ticular matter because I directed him to conduct this would you change the rules relative to the White House

Counsel? investigation, indicates that no one on the White House Staff, at the time he conducted the investigation--that

THE PRESIDENT. I do not expect that to happen, and was last July and August-was involved or had knowl

if it should happen I would have to answer that question edge of the Watergate matter. And, as far as the balance

at that point.

Let me sa of the case is concerned, it is now under investigation by

too, that I know that, since you are on your

feet, Clark (-10llenhoff], that you had asked about the a Congressional committee and that committee should go forward, conduct its investigation in an even-handed

Executive Privilege statemens, and we will have that

available toward the end of next week or the first of the way, going into charges made against both candidates, both political parties. And if it does, as Senator Enin has

following week, for sure, because obviously, the Ervin indicated it will, we will, of course cooperate with the

Committee is interested in that statement, and that will committee just as we cooperated with the grand jury.

answer, I think, some of the questions with regard to how informacion can be obtained from a member of the White House Staff, but consistent with executive privilege

REPORTER. Thank you again. Q. Mr. President, yesterday at the Gray hearings,

NOTE: President Nixon's thirtieth news conference was held at 11:08 Senator Tunney suggested he might ask the committee to

a.m. on Friday, March 2, 1973, in the Briefing Room at the White ask for John Dean to appear before that hearing to talk House.

9 Presidential Documents 214, 219-20

Executive Privilege

Statement by the President. March 12, 1973

During my press conference of January 31, 1973, I stated that I would issue a statement outlining my views on executive privilege.

The doctrine of executive privilege is well established, It was first invoked by President Washington, and it has been recognized and utilized by our Presidents for almost 200 years since that time. The doctrine is rooted in the Constitution, which vests "the Executive Power" soley in the President, and it is designed to protect communications within the executive branch in a variety of circumstances in time of both war and peace. Without such protection, our military security, our relacions with other countries, our law enforcement procedures, and many other aspects of the national interest could be significandy damaged and the decisionmaking process of the executive branch could be impaired.

The general policy of this Administration regarding the use of executive privilege during the next 4 years will be the same as the one we have followed during the past 4 years and which I outlined in my press conference: Executive privilege will not be used as a shield to prevent embarrassing information from being made available but will be exercised only in those particular instances in which disclosure would harm the public interest

I first enunciated this policy in a memorandum of March 24, 1969, which I sent to Cabinet officers and heads of agencies. The memorandum read in part:

“The policy of this Administration is to comply to the fullest extent possible with Congressional requests for information. While the Execucive branch has the responsibility of withholding certain information the disclosure of which would be incompauble with the public interest, this Administracion will invoke this authority only in the most compelling circumstances and after a rigorous inquiry into the actual need for its exercise For those reasons Executive privilege will not be used without specific Presidential approval."

In recent weeks, questions have been raised about the availability of officials in the executive branch to present testimony before committees of the Congress. As my 1969 memorandum dealt primarily with guidelines for providing information to the Congress and did not focus specifically on appearances by officers of the executive branch and members of the President's personai staff, it would be useful to outline my policies concerning the latter question.

During the first 4 years of my Presidency, hundreds of Administration oficials spent thousands of hours freely testifying before committees of the Congress. Secretary of Defense Laird, for instance, made 86 separace appearanco before Congressional committees, engaging in over 327 hours of testimony. By contrast, there were only three oco casions during the first term of my Administracion when executive privilege was invoked anywhere in the execure branch in response to a Congressional request for information. These faces speak not of a closed Administracion but of one that is pledged to openness and is proud to stand on its record.

Requests for Congressional appearances by members of the President's personal staff present a different situation and raise different considerations. Such requests have been relatively infrequent through the years, and in past administrations they have been routinely declined. I have followed that same tradition in my Administration, and I intend to continue it during the remainder of my term.

Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the manner in which the President personally exercises his assigned executive powers is not subject to questioning by another branch of Government. If the President is not subject to such quesooning, it is equally appropriate that members of his staff not be so questioned, for their roles are in effect an extension of the Presidency.

This tradition rests on more than Constitucional doctrine: It is also a practical necessity. To insure the effective discharge of the executive responsibility, a President must be able to place absolute confidence in the advice and . assistance offered by the members of his staff. And in the performance of their duties for the President, those staff members must not be inhibited by the possibility that their advice and assistance will ever become a matter of public debate, either during their tenure in Government or at a later date. Otherwise, the candor with which advice is rendered and the quality of such assistance will inevitably be compromised and weakened. What is at stake, therefore, is not simply a question of confidenciality but the integrity of the decision making proces at the very highest levels of our Government.

The considerations I have just outlined have been and must be recognized in other fields, in and out of govern. ment. A law clerk, for instance, is not subject to interrogation about the factors or discussions that preceded a decision of the judge.

For these reasons, just as I shall not invoke esecutive privilege lightly, I shall also look to the Congress to continue this proper tradition in asking for executive branch testimony only from the officers properly constituted to provide the information soughe, and only when the eliciting of such testimony will serve a genuine legislacive purpose.

As I stated in my press conference on January 31, the question of whether circunstances warrant the exercise of executive privilege should be determined on a case-bycase basis. In making such decisions, I shall rely on the following guidelines:

1. In the case of a department or agency, every official shall comply with a reasonable request for an appearance before the Congress, provided that the performance of the duties of his oñice will not be seriously impaired thereby. If the official believes that a Congressional request for a particular document or for testimony on a particular point raises a substancial question as to the need for invoking executive privilege, he shall comply with the procedures set forth in my memorandum of March 24, 1969. Thus, executive privilege will not be invoked und] the compelling need for its exercise has been clearly demonstrated and the request has been approved first by the Attorney General and then by the President.

2. A Cabinet officer or any other Government official who also holds a position as a member of the President's personal staff shall comply with any reasonable request to testify in his non-White House capacity, provided that the performance of his duties will not be seriously impaired thereby. If the official believes that the request raises a substantial question as to the need for invoking executive privilege, he shall comply with the procedures set forth in my memorandum of March 24, 1969.

3. A member or former member of the Provident's pero sonal staff normally shall follow the well-established precedent and decline a request for a formal appearance before a committee of the Congress. At the same time, it will continue to be my policy to provide all necessary and relevant informacion through informal contacts between my present staff and committees of the Congress in ways which preserve intact the Constitutional separation of the branches.

Note: The text of the memoranduse to waich the statement refers was also made available by the White House Pro Oace, as lollows:

Marca 24, 1959 Mexora.VDUY FOR THE HzAds or Ezcutive DUMTXINTS AND


The policy of this Administration is to comply to the fullest
extent possible with Congressional request for iasormacion Waile
the Executive branch has the responsibility of wichholding certain
information the disclosure of which would be incompasible wieb
the public interest, this Administration will invoke this authority
only in the most compelling circumstances and after a rigorous
inquiry into the actual need for ius exercise. For those reasons Execte
tive privilege will not be used without speciec Presidencial approval
The following procedural steps will govers the invocatoa of Execare
aive privilege:

1. If the head of an Executive department or agency (bereaites referred to as "department head") believes that compliance wich a request for information from a Congressional agency addressed to his department or agency raises a substantial question as to le need for invoking Executive privilegt, he should consult the Atropa ney General through the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice.

2. If the department head and the Attorney General agree, ia accordance with the policy set forth above, that Executive privilege shall not be invoked in the circumsances, the informacion shall be released to the inquiring Congressional ageacy.

3. If the department head and the Atomey General agree that the circumstances jusdily the invocation of Exscutive privilege, or if either of them believes that the issue should be submitted to the President, the matter shall be transmited to the Counsel to the President, who will advise the department head of che President's decision.

4. In the event of a Presidencial decision to invoke Execudy. privilege, the department head should advise the Congressioni agency that the claim of Execucive privilege is being made wich ebe specific approval of the President

5. Pending a final determination of the matter, the department head should request the Congressional ageocy to hold its denind for the information in abeyance until such determination can be made. Care shall be taken to indicate that the purpose of this request is to protect the privilege pending the determinacion, and that the request does not constitute a claim of privilege


9 Presidential Documents 253-54


MARCH 15, 1973

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Q. Mr. President, do you plan to stick by your decision not to allow Mr. Dean to testify before the Congress, even if it means the defeat of Mr. Gray's nomination?

THE PRESDENT. I have noted some speculation to the efiect that the Senate might haid Mr. Gray as hostage to a decision on Mr. Dean I cannot believe that such responsible Members of the United Stars Senate would do that, because as far as I am concerned, my decision has been made.

I answered that question rather abruptly, you recall, the last time it was asked by one of the ladies of the press here. I did not mean to be abrups, I simply meant to be firm.

Mr. Dean is Counsel to the White House. He is also one who was counsel to a number of people on the White House Staff. He has, in effect, what I would call a double privilege, the lawyer-client relationship, as well as the Presidential privilege.

And in terms of privilege, I think we could put it another way. I consider it my constitutional responsibility to defend the principle of separation of powers. I recog. nize that many Members of the Congress disagree with my interpretation of that responsibility.

But while we are talking on that subject--and I will go on at some length here because it may anticipate some of your other questions I am very proud of the fact that in this Administration we have been more forthcoming in terms of the relationship between the executive, the White House, and the Congress, than any administration in my memory. We have not drawn a curtain down and said that there could be no information furnished by members

of the White House Staff because of their special relationship to the President

All we have said is that it must be under certain cir. cumstances, certain guidelines, that do not infringe upoo or impair the separation of powers that are so essential to the survival of our system.

In that connection, I might say that I had mentioned previously that I was once on the other side of the fence, but what I am doing here in this case is cooperating with the Congress in a way that I asked the then Presiden, Mr. Truman, to cooperate with a committee of the Congress 25 years ago and in which he refused. I don't


that critically of him now he had his reas sons, I have mine. But what we asked for in the hearings on the Hiss case--and all of you who covered it, like Bill Theis and others, will remember what we asked for was not that the head of the FBI or anybody from the White House Staff testify. There was very widespread information that there was a report of an invesvigation that had been made in the Administration about the Hiss case. We asked for that report. We asked for the FBI information with regard to that report.

And Mr. Truman, the day we started our investigation, issued an executive order in which he ordered everybody in the executive department to refuse to cooperate with the committee under any circumstances. The FBI refused all information. We got no report from the Departnent of Justice. And ve had to go forward and break the case ourselves.

We did. And, to the credit of the Administration, after we broke the case, they proceeded to conduct the prosecu. tion and the FBI went into it.

I would like to say, incidentally, that I talked to Me. Hoover at that time. It was with reluctance that he did not tum over that information-reluctance, because he

See page 255 of this issue.

See Public Papers of the Presidents Harry S. Truman, 1948 volume, liem 170[+).

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