Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nixon. Conversation. No. 005-058. 13 Jun 1971.

Date: Jun 13, 1971
Participants: Richard Nixon, William Rogers
Location: White House Telephone

Nixon: Hello.
White House Operator: Secretary Rogers.
Rogers: Hi, Mr. President.
Nixon: Hi, Bill.
NARA Excision Category: Personal Returnable Duration: 4s
Nixon: [Unclear].
Rogers: Hey, that wedding was just great.
Nixon: Well, it was the. You've got to give Pat and Tricia the credit. They really worked. And that White House staff, weren't they great?
Rogers: Everything, it was absolutely superb.
Nixon: Yeah. Rogers: And I thought the press coverage was.
Nixon: Yeah.
Rogers: excellent.
Nixon: The TV was, really. You didn't see it, probably?
Rogers: I saw some of it. I thought it was great.
Nixon: It was really, really came out. All three networks did a, just really couldn't have done better.
Rogers: I don't know how you could have done any better.
Nixon: Yeah.
Rogers: I mean, there were no snide remarks or anything, just great.
Nixon: Yeah. Really, really handled it well.
[The two men chuckle.]
Rogers: It couldn't have been better.
NARA Excision Category: Personal Returnable Duration: 11s
Nixon: Incidentally, one thing I was going to mention that the casualties this week are going to be less than 20 again, unless they have some, something they haven't.
Rogers: Hmm.
Nixon: Unless something has come up, unless they have some MIAs that they're putting in. In fact, it could be 15, I think.
Rogers: Is that right?
Nixon: Yeah. So we're now coming into that period which we said we would. [Chuckles.]
Rogers: I know. You know, I heard on the radio a little while ago that this is the first time that there's been no combat activity involving United States troops in South Vietnam.
Nixon: Today?
Rogers: In the last 24 hours. No combat at all.
Nixon: Good, good.
Rogers: Wasn't that good?
Nixon: Well, there were three days last week, apparently. I just talked, calling, talking to Haig, and he said there were three days there were no killed-in-action at all.
Rogers: Isn't that wonderful?
Nixon: And as of, through Thursday there were only four. So, Friday, Saturday may have picked up some. But as I said they all, they sometimes pick up some who have been missing and that they just decide that.
Rogers: Sure.
Nixon: They're gone now and they just let them go.
Rogers: Right.
Nixon: Yeah, you know I was. I don't know whether you. I didn't read the piece, but Haig was talking to me about it, that piece in the [New York] Times is, of course, a massive security leak from the Pentagon, you know.
Rogers: Is that [unclear].
Nixon: It all relates to, it all relates, of course, to everything up until we came in.
Rogers: Yeah.
Nixon: And it's hard on Johnson, it's hard on Kennedy, it's hard on Lodge. Of course, the difficulty from our standpoint, and I suppose the Times is running it now because of McGovern-Hatfield, it's also hard on the Vietnamese, you know, the covert, but apparently, the.
Rogers: Yeah.
Nixon: McNamara had the study made, started, and then it was continued by Clifford. But it's really something. They said, according to Haig, 4,000 secure documents were apparently just leaked to the Times.
Rogers: Isn't that awful?
Nixon: Goddamn.
Rogers: Of course, McNamara looks lousy too. He comes out looking.
Nixon: Yeah, I didn't read the piece, but he looks, apparently.
Rogers: He looks bad.
Nixon: By the time, you see, the difficulty was McNamara started. Then Clifford got in, he makes McNamara look bad.
Rogers: Yeah.
Nixon: And trying to make him[self] look good.
Rogers: God, they're a bunch of scoundrels, aren't they?
Nixon: This goddamn Clifford you know, his talking around. If he's got something he ought to say, he ought to tell us.
Rogers: Well, I'll talk to you.
Nixon: I know he's going to see your fellow Wednesday, but.
Rogers: Who is? He's going to see who?
Nixon: Clifford. Well, I hear he's going to, he said he was, he told the press that he was going to see [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William H.] Sullivan or ... to report to him, you know, cause you, we asked for it. In other words, we said, Look, if you've got anything, what is it?
Rogers: Mm-hmm.
Nixon: And he said, Well, I'll talk to Sullivan.
Rogers: Well.
Nixon: Sullivan called him.
Rogers: I, Christ, I didn't know that Sullivan called him. Nixon: No, no, he didn't at our suggestion.
Rogers: Oh, at our suggestion?
Nixon: Oh, no, sure, sure.
Rogers: Oh, I see.
Nixon: Because, see, when it came up, Ron, I didn't want any interest shown in the White House, so we just said, Well, have Sullivan say, --Well look, we're negotiating here, if you've got something to pass on to [chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris Peace Talks] David K.E. Bruce, let us know.
Rogers: Yeah. Nixon: But, he's [chuckles].
Rogers: Well, I thought that I could take him on a little Tuesday. Did Mel [Laird], was Mel on television today? Somebody.
Nixon: He had, I think he was supposed to have been on one of the talk shows, but I ... Yes, I think he was, yeah. I didn't see it.
Rogers: Maybe you and I'll have a chance to talk a bit tomorrow about what I should say Tuesday. I'll take him on as hard as you want me to.
Nixon: Yeah. Well, I would say this, that the real problem is, of course, how much we want to build him.
Rogers: Yeah.
Nixon: But on the other hand, others may build him so that he has to be taken on. But we'll see what Mel did, too. Mel may have.
Rogers: Right, right.
Nixon: Mel said he was going to take him on, but.
Rogers: Well, I think that if I take him on, I should do it with a flick of my wrist [unclear].
Nixon: Well, that's the, and more in sorrow than in anger.
Rogers: Right.
Nixon: My view, the view being, look, after all he was in this whole thing, and he left us with.
Rogers: That's right.
Nixon: 550,000 men there, and so forth, and casualties at 300 a week. Now if he's, we, under those circumstances, of course, if he's got information, that he should, that he owes it to pass it on.
Rogers: Right, right.
Nixon: We, we're, and I think the idea, too, that my God, we're exploring every possible thing. You know, Bruce brings up everything he can, every damn thing.
Rogers: Of course. Well, I can, I can.
Nixon: [Unclear] get a nibble.
Rogers: I can hit him pretty hard if I have to, because he's very vulnerable.
Nixon: I don't know what he has, I.
Rogers: Oh, he doesn't have any.
Nixon: It's probably through, don't you think, through some embassy or something?
Rogers: Oh, I don't know. It's a political move, that's all it is.
Nixon: You think so?
Rogers: Sure.
Nixon: Yeah.
Rogers: He doesn't have anything.
NARA Excision
Nixon: They tell me that Johnson is furious at him now. Johnson was at, in New York speaking to, talking at some sort of a party he was attending, and apparently he said, Damn it, he says, Trouble with Clifford is that he can talk like this and go out to Burning Tree. And he says, The President's got to go back to the damn office, and he says, he ought to tell him.
Rogers: Yeah. [Chuckles.] That's a good boy.
Nixon: Not bad.
Rogers: That's really pretty good, isn't it?
Nixon: It's so true of Clifford.
Rogers: Well.
Nixon: Well, let's talk about it tomorrow.
Rogers: Right.
Nixon: And let's see what Mel said, and get a line. Where, I'm deliberately having, well, [White House Press Secretary Ronald L.] Ziegler has played it, as you know, rather cool.
Rogers: Right.
Nixon: And will continue to tomorrow, but.
Rogers: Right. Well, we can decide, I don't think.
Nixon: Right.
Rogers: And we want to be sure we don't build him up as an individual.
Nixon: No. Never.
Rogers: Cause he's not known in the country.
Nixon: He's not known, and the story, from what I have heard, is not getting a hell of a lot of attention nationally.
Rogers: No.
Nixon: It's more of a Washington/New York story.
Rogers: Even in Washington, though, the papers are sort of criticizing him.
Nixon: Yeah. I understand [columnist William S.] White took him on. [Chuckles.]
Rogers: Well, even a fellow like [Washington Post Chief Diplomatic Correspondent] Chal[mers] Roberts who's.
Nixon: Yeah.
Rogers: Against us took him on.
Nixon: Of course he was over there, too. Roberts got the other, had that interview, which.
Rogers: That's right. Right. And really when you read that interview is one, Gee, they've toughened their position.
Nixon: Yeah.
Rogers: It's not.
Nixon: They're saying, Look, we won't do anything unless you stop the aid.
Rogers: That's right.
Nixon: Sure. Well, we'll see you tomorrow.
Rogers: All right, fine. Thanks, Mr. President. Bye.

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