P: Say, 'The president just feels that ah, without going into details--don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is a comedy of errors, without getting into it, the president believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.'
The following are edited White House transcripts of the taped conversations between President Nixon and his former chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, on June 23, 1972. The transcripts cover three separate meetings.
10:04 a.m.-11:39 a.m.
HALDEMAN: Now, on the investigation, you know the Democratic break-in thing, we're back in the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn't exactly know how to control it and they have--their investigation is now leading into some productive areas--because they've been able to trace the money--not through the money itself--but through the bank sources--the banker. And, and it goes in some directions we don't want it to go. Ah, also there have been some things--like an informant came off the street to the FBI in Miami who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer who developed some films through this guy Barker and the films had pictures of Democratic National Committee letterhead documents and things. So it's things like that that are filtering in. Mitchell came up with yesterday, and John Dean analyzed very carefully last night and concludes, concurs now with Mitchell's recommendation that the only way to solve this, and we're set up beautifully to do it, ah, in that and that--the only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC--they did a massive story on the Cuban thing.
PRESIDENT: That's right.
H: That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, "Stay to hell out of this--this is ah, business we don't want you to go any further on it." That's not an unusual development, and ah, that would take care of it.
P: What about Pat Gray--you mean Pat Gray doesn't want to?
H: Pat does want to. He doesn't know how to, and he doesn't have, he doesn't have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He'll call Mark Felt in, and the two of them--and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because he's ambitious--
H: He'll call him in and say, "We've got the signal from across the river to put the hold on this." And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that's what it is.
P: This is CIA? They've traced the money? Who'd they trace it to?
H: Well they've traced it to a name, but they haven't gotten to the guy yet.
P: Would it be somebody here?
H: Ken Dahlberg.
P: Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?
H: He gave $25,000 in Minnesota and, ah, the check went directly to this guy Barker.
P: It isn't from the committee though, from Stans?
H: Yeah. It is. It's directly traceable and there's some more through some Texas people that went to the Mexican bank which can also be traced to the Mexican bank--they'll get their names today.
H: --And (pause)
P: Well, I mean, there's no way--I'm just thinking if they don't cooperate, what do they say? That they were approached by the Cubans. That's what Dahlberg has to say, the Texans too, that they--
H: Well, if they will. But then we're relying on more and more people all the time. That's the problem and they'll stop if we could take this other route.
P: All right.
H: And you seem to think the thing to do is get them to stop?
P: Right, fine.
H: They say the only way to do that is from White House instructions. And it's got to be to Helms and to--ah, what's his name...? Walters.
H: And the proposal would be that Ehrlichman and I call them in, and say, ah--
P: All right, fine. How do you call him in--I mean you just--well, we protected Helms from one hell of a lot of things.
H: That's what Ehrlichman says.
P: Of course, this Hunt, that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt, and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves. Well what the hell, did Mitchell know about this?
H: I think so. I don't think he knew the details, but I think he knew.
P: He didn't know how it was going to be handled through--with Dahlberg and the Texans and so forth? Well who was the asshole that did? Is it Liddy? Is that the fellow? He must be a little nuts!
H: He is.
P: I mean he just isn't well screwed on is he? Is that the problem?
H: No, but he was under pressure, apparently, to get more information, and as he got more pressure, he pushed the people harder to move harder--
P: Pressure from Mitchell?
P: Oh, Mitchell. Mitchell was at the point [unintelligible].
P: All right, fine, I understand it all. We won't second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn't Colson.
H: The FBI interviewed Colson yesterday. They determined that would be a good thing to do. To have him take an interrogation, which he did, and that--the FBI guys working the case concluded that there were one or two possibilities--one, that this was a House--they don't think that there is anything at the election committee--they don't think it was either a White House operation and they had some obscure reasons for it--nonpolitical, or it was a--Cuban and the CIA. And after their interrogation of Colson yesterday, they concluded it was not the White House, but are now convinced it is a CIA thing, so the CIA turnoff would...
P: Well, not sure of their analysis, I'm not going to get that involved. I'm [unintelligible].
H: No, sir. We don't want you to.
P: You call them in.
H: Good deal.
P: Play it tough. That's the way they play it and that's the way we are going to play it.
P: When I saw that news summary. I questioned whether it's a bunch of crap, but I thought er, well it's good to have them off us awhile, because when they start bugging us, which they have, our little boys will not know how to handle it. I hope they will though.
H: You never know.
P: I don't know--maybe it isn't working out and [unintelligible] maybe it is.
H: Well, it's a close call. Ah, Ehrlichman thought you probably--
H: Well, he said you probably didn't need it. He didn't think you should, not at all. He said he felt fine doing it.
P: He did? The question, the point, is does he think everybody is going to understand the busing?
H: That's right.
P: And, ah, well [unintelligible] says no.
H: Well, the fact is somewhere in between, I think, because I think that [unintelligible] is missing some--
P: Well, if the fact is somewhere in between, we better do it.
H: Yeah, I think Mitchell says, "Hell yes. Anything we can hit on at anytime we get the chance--and we've got a reason for doing it--do it."
P: When you get in--when you get in [unintelligible] people, say, "Look the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the president just feels that ah, without going into the details--don't don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is a comedy of errors, without getting into it, the president believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah, because these people are plugging for [unintelligible] and that they should call the FBI in and [unintelligible] don't go any further into this case period!
P: [Inaudible] our cause--
H: Get more done for our cause by the opposition than by us.
P: Well, can you get it done?
H: I think so.
P: [Unintelligible] moves [unintelligible] election [unintelligible] said it in its lead editorial today. Another "McGovern's got to change his position." That that would be a good thing, that's constructive. Ah, the white wash for change.
P: [Unintelligible] urging him to do so--say that is perfectly all right?
H: Cause then they are saying--on the other hand--that he were not so smart. We have to admire the progress he's made on the basis of the position he's taken and maybe he's right and we're wrong.
P: [Inaudible] I just, ha ha.
P: [Unintelligible] I spend an hour--whatever it was--45 minutes or so with television executives [unintelligible] all in and outs [unintelligible]. "Look, we have no right to ask the president anything [unintelligible] biased." [Unintelligible] says I'm going to raise hell with the networks. And look, you've just not got to let Klein ever set up a meeting again. He just doesn't have his head screwed on. You know what I mean. He just opens it up and sits there with eggs on his face. He's just not our guy at all is he?
P: Absolutely, totally, unorganized.
H: He's a very nice guy.
P: People love him, but damn is he organized.
H: But, I don't think you have to be there until Tuesday.
P: I don't want to go near the damned place until Tuesday. I don't want to be near it. I've got the arrival planned [unintelligible] my arrival of, ah--
H: Now we're going to do, unless you have some objection, we should do your arrival at Miami International, not at Homestead.
P: Yes, I agree.
H: Ah, we can crank up a hell of an arrival thing.
P: All right.
P: [Unintelligible] is for you, ah, and perhaps Colson probably [inaudible].
P: I was thumbing through the, ah, last chapters of [unintelligible], Warm up to it, and it makes, ah, fascinating reading. Also reminds you of a hell of a lot of things that happened in the campaign--press you know, election coverage, the [unintelligible], etc., etc.
P: So on and so on. I want you to reread it, and I want Colson to read it, and anybody else.
P: And anybody else in the campaign. Get copies of the book and give it to each of them. Say I want them to read it and have it in mind. Give it to whoever you can, O.K.?
H: Sure will.
P: Actually, the book reads awfully well-have to look at history. I want to talk to you more about that later in terms of what it tells us about how our campaign should be run, O.K.?
H: O.K. In other words, [unintelligible] the media and so forth--
P: To a great extent, is responsible to what happened to Humphrey both in '68. If that's true, it did not apply in 1960. The media was just as bad [unintelligible] two weeks. In 1960 we ran--
H: It was a dead heat.
P: All the way through the campaign and it never changed, clearly. It may be--it may be that our--as you read this on how [unintelligible] our campaign was--how much television, you know. We didn't have [unintelligible] at all. It may be that our 60 campaign [unintelligible] was extremely much more effective and it may be too, that we misjudged the [unintelligible]. You read it through and [unintelligible] see what I mean. I mean, it's it's--even realize that '68 was much better organized. It may be we did a better job in '60. It just may be. It may tell us something. Anyway would you check it over?
P: [Unintelligible] check another thing--get back? Convention?
H: He was, I'm not sure if he still is.
P: Could find out from him what chapters of the book he worked on. Ah, I don't want coverage of the heartattack thing. I did most of the dictating on the last two but I've been curious [unintelligible]. But could you find out which chapters he worked on. Also find out where Moscow is--what's become of him--what's he's doing 10 years. Say hello to him [unintelligible] might find it useful [unintelligible] future, despite the [unintelligible]. You'll find this extremely interesting. Read [unintelligible].
H: Read that a number of times [unintelligible] different context--
P: Ah, I would say another thing--Bud Brown [unintelligible] did you read it? [Unintelligible] candidates. I don't know who all you discussed that with. Maybe it's not been handled at a high enough level. Who did you discuss that with? [Unintelligible]
H: MacGregor and Mitchell. MacGregor and Mitchell, that's all.
P: Yep. [Unintelligible] I don't mind the time--the problem that I have with it is that I do not want to have pictures with candidates that are running with Democrats--or against Democrats that may either be [unintelligible] or might be for us. On the other hand, all sophisticated Democratic candidates you understand--the damned candidates [unintelligible] they gotta get a picture with the president. The way to have the pictures with the candidate--this would be a very clever thing, is to call both Democrats--the good Southern Democrats and those few like [unintelligible], who did have a picture with me, see, and then call them up and say look [unintelligible] came on and they took a picture and maybe [unintelligible] president. Wants you to know that if you would like a picture, if you would like to come down to the office, you know, you can have a picture taken that you are welcome to use. How does that sound to you as a [unintelligible]? Let me say this. I'm not--I'm not--I think that getting to the candidates out there that are very busy and so forth may help us a bit. If the candidates run too far behind you, it drags you too much.
P: All right, fine, I understand it all. We won't second-guess Mitchell and the rest. Thank God it wasn't Colson.
P: The arts, you know--they're Jews, they're left wing--in other words, stay away.
P: Yeah. Another point I was going to mention to you, Bob, is the situation with regard to the girls. I was talking to Pat last night. Tricia and I were talking, and she mentioned--Tricia said that apparently when she was in Allentown there were 20 or 30 thugs--labor thugs out booing.
P: And when she went to Boston to present some art--her Chinese things to the art gallery there--two the [unintelligible] from the press were pretty vicious. What I mean is they came through the line and one refused to shake. One was not with the press. Refused to shake hands, so forth and so on. Tricia [unintelligible] very personal point, [unintelligible] good brain in that head. She said first she couldn't believe that the event that they do locally [unintelligible] understand. You know she does the Boys' Club, the Art Gallery [unintelligible]. She says the important thing is to find this type of [unintelligible] to go into the damn town [unintelligible] do television, which of course, they do. [Unintelligible] she says why [unintelligible] control the place. She says in other words, go in and do the Republican group. Now, sure isn't [unintelligible] to say you did the Republican group, as it is the Allentown Bullies Club? But that's the paper story. The point is, I think Parker has to get a little more thinking in depth, or is it Codus now who will do this?
H: They are both working on it.
P: What's your off-hand reaction on that, Bob? I do not want them, though, to go in and get the hell kicked [unintelligible].
H: There's no question, and we've really got to work at that.
P: Yep. [Unintelligible]
H: Ya, but I think--I'm not sure--if you can't get the controlled nonpolitical event, then I think it is better to do a political even [unintelligible].
P: For example--now the worse thing [unintelligible] is to go to anything that has to do with the arts.
H: Ya, see that--it was [unintelligible] Julie giving that time to the Museum in Jacksonville.
P: The arts you know--they're Jews, they're left wing--in other words, stay away.
P: Make a point.
P: Middle America--put that word out--Middle America-type of people [unintelligible], auxiliary, [unintelligible]. Why the hell doesn't Parker get that kind of thing going? Most of his things are elite groups except, I mean, do the cancer thing--may be nice for Tricia to go up--ride a bus for two hours--do some of that park in Oklahoma--but my view is, Bob, relate it to Middle America and not the elitist [unintelligible]. Do you agree?
H: Yep. Sure do.
P: I'm not complaining. I think they are doing a hell of a job. The kids are willing--
H: They really are, but she can improve.
P: There again, Tricia had a very good thought on this, but let's do Middle America.
P: I don't know whether Alex told you or not, but I want a Secret Service reception some time next week. I just gotta know who these guys are. [Unintelligible]. Don't you think so? I really feel they're there--that ah, I see new guys around--and Jesus Christ they look so young.
H: Well, they change them--that's one [unintelligible] any reception now would be totally different [unintelligible].
P: Get 100 then--so it's 200 and I shake their hands and thank them and you look [unintelligible] too--[unintelligible]. They have a hell of a lot of fellas, let's face it, [unintelligible] friends [unintelligible], but I just think it's a nice--
H: They all--you have such--that's why it's a good thing to do, cause they are friends--and they have such overriding respect for you and your family--that
P: I wouldn't want the whole group--something [unintelligible]. Third point--I would like a good telephone call list for California, but not a huge book, and the kind is--This would be a good take where [unintelligible] and just give thanks to people for their support. For example, Colson had me call [unintelligible] the other day--[unintelligible] thing to do, but, here you could take the key guys that work--I wouldn't mind calling a very few key contributors--maybe, but we're talking about magnitude of ten--very key ten.
H: Ten--you mean ten people?
H: Oh, I thought you meant $10,000.
P: No, ten. Ten. I was thinking of very key [unintelligible] people like--that worked their ass off collecting money, just to say that--people that--the people that are doing the work--very key political [unintelligible] just to pat them on the back. I mean that means a helluva lot--very key political VIPs, you know, by political VIPs--ah [unintelligible] just get the South get a better [unintelligible]. Our problem is that there are only two men in this place that really give us names--that's Rose the other is Colson, and we just aren't getting them. But I mean ah, and then editors--by editors and television people--like a [unintelligible] call, but a few key editors who are just busting their ass for us where there's something to do. But give me a good telephone list, and Rose should give me a few personal things--like I do a lot of things, but I called [unintelligible] here today some [unintelligible] and things of that sort. But I think this would be a very good use of my time while I'm in California. I never mind doing it you know when I've got an hour to put my feet up and make a few calls don't you agree?
P: I think of the campaign--that's going to be a hell of a [unintelligible]. I think sometimes when we're here in Washington, you know, supposedly doing the business of the government, that I can call people around the country--people that will come out for us--and so forth, like [unintelligible] for example, Democrats come out for us. They're [unintelligible] right across the board--Democrat or labor union. [Unintelligible].
P: Religious leaders [unintelligible] say something. You gotta be careful some ass over in [unintelligible]. He just doesn't really have his head screwed on, Bob. I could see it in that meeting yesterday. He does not.
H: That's right.
P: He just doesn't know. He just sort of blubbers around. I don't know how he does TV so well.
H: Well, he's a sensation on that--that goes to the [unintelligible] meaning of the thing, you know. What's his drawback, is really an asset.
P: Ya. If you would do this. Pat, and tell Codus. [Unintelligible] but I will go to Camp David [unintelligible] half-hour. Key Biscayne--she might want to stay there if she can go in less than a half-hour with an escort. Do you think you can? Frankly, Miami Beach [unintelligible] but we can arrange it either way? Leave it to her choice.
H: It wouldn't take as long.
P: Leave it to her choice--she'd--it's
H: She'd--it's so miserable. If she's at Miami Beach she'll be a prisoner in that hotel.
P: Yeah. Tell her, tell her that's fine. But it's up to her.
H: Fair enough!
P: I'll be anxious to [unintelligible] sign that stuff [unintelligible] I suppose most of our staff [unintelligible] but that Six Crises is a damned good book, and the [unintelligible] story reads like a novel--the Hiss case--Caracas was fascinating. The campaign of course for anybody in politics should be a must because it had a lot in there of how politicians are like. [Unintelligible] elections, and how you do things. [Unintelligible] as of that time. I think part of the problem as an example, for example, I'm just thinking--research people something they really missed [unintelligible] Burns. Pat and I, she said [unintelligible] no, she had remembered. She remembered [unintelligible] that was pretty far back [unintelligible]. And Jimmy Burns said well [unintelligible] hard for me to come, but I just want you to know [unintelligible] but because [unintelligible] want you to know you are still my friend [unintelligible]. Wonderful item to put in.
H: Is that in the book?
P: It's in the book! Hell yes. It's in the book.
H: Is it?
P: [Unintelligible] Why don't you reread it?
1:04 p.m.-1:13 p.m.
P: O.K., just postpone scratching noises [unintelligible] Just say [unintelligible] very bad to have this fellow Hunt, ah, he knows too damned much, if he was involved -- you happen to know that? If it gets out that this is all involved, the Cuba thing would be a fiasco. It would make the CIA look bad, it's going to make Hunt look bad, and it is likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs thing which we think would be very unfortunate -- both for CIA and for the country, at this time, and for American foreign policy. Just tell him to lay off. Don't you?
H: Yep. That's the basis to do it on. Just leave it at that.
P: I don't know if he'll get any ideas for doing it because our concern political [unintelligible]. Helms is not one to [unintelligible] I would just say, look it, because of the Hunt involvement, whole cover basically this--
H: Yep. Good move.
P: Well, they've got some pretty good ideas on this Meany thing. Shultz did a good paper. I read it all. [voices fade]L. PATRICK GRAY