Background on Nixon Tapes: Open to the Public
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KWAME HOLMAN: Over the past few weeks the National Archives in Washington has released 204 of the more than 3500 hours of tapes secretly recorded by President Nixon in the White House Oval Office. Those tapes provided an insight to the President during some of his most troubling times. The tapes included a September 1971 conversation Nixon had with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, in which he orders that the IRS investigate big Jewish contributors to the Democratic Party.
NIXON: “Please get the names of the Jews. You know, the big Jewish contributors to the Democrats. Could you please investigate some of the–”
KWAME HOLMAN: and then an expletive. Nixon continued the conversation the very next day.
NIXON: “What about the rich Jews? The IRS is full of Jews, Bob.”
HALDEMAN: “What we ought to do is get a zealot who dislikes those people.”
NIXON:”Go after them like a son of a bitch.”
KWAME HOLMAN: Also from that same day, Nixon responded to Haldeman’s idea that Republicans secretly finance a black independent presidential candidate in 1972 to drain off Democratic votes.
NIXON: “Put that down for discussion–not for discussion, for action.”
KWAME HOLMAN: During a conversation with Haldeman in June 1971, Nixon ordered Haldeman to break into the Brookings Institution, a Washington research organization. Nixon believed Brookings had copies of the Pentagon Papers revealing military secrets about U.S. strategy in the Vietnam War.
NIXON: “They have a lot of material. I want–the way I want that handled Bob is get it over. I want Brooking. Just break in. Break in and take it out. You understand.”
HALDEMAN: “Yeah. But you have to get somebody to do it.”
NIXON: “Well, you–that’s what I’m just telling you. Now don’t discuss it here. You’re to break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them out.”
HALDEMAN: “I don’t have any problem with breaking in.”
NIXON: “Just go in and take them. Go in around 8 or 9 o’clock. That’s right. You go in and inspect and clean it out.”
KWAME HOLMAN: It is unclear what action, if any, Haldeman may have taken, but the Brookings Institution never was broken into. And there are tapes from April 30, 1973, in the midst of the Watergate investigation. Nixon had delivered a nationally televised speech announcing chief of staff Haldeman and domestic adviser John Ehrlichman were being fired for their role in the cover-up following the Watergate break-in. About an hour later, Nixon talked with Haldeman by phone.
NIXON: “Hope I didn’t get you down.”
HALDEMAN: “No, sir. You got your points over. You’ve got it set right.”
NIXON: “Well, it’s a tough thing, Bob, for you, for John, the rest, but goddamn it, I’m never going to discuss this son-of-a-bitching Watergate thing again. Never. Never. Never. Never.”
KWAME HOLMAN: The National Archives also has released two drafts of a 1974 Nixon speech. According to one of the drafts, both prepared by Nixon speech writer Ray Price on August 3 and 4, 1974, President Nixon was ready to fight to keep his office and refused to admit any wrongdoing in the Watergate cover-up. The President also would announce his intention to answer questions from the Senate Watergate Committee and to face the consequences. But Nixon put that draft aside and delivered the second one–his historic resignation speech on August 8, 1974.