President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell. October 19, 1971, 3:00 p.m.
President Nixon: He had checked out out of the hotel and left no number to call, so I presume he's on his way back to Richmond. That was Powell - so I've tried. I've tried calling just now. I was tied up for awhile when you told me earlier. Now what do you think we should do? Leave a call for him?
John Mitchell: I would --because I think we'll have time to do that - certainly during--
RMN: But you had the feeling that it might still be an open question. You know, the way I look at it is that if I just say, look, you're a conscientious man and all the rest, but right now, your country needs you and I'd like for you to take this, and as soon as you feel at any time you can't do it, why you come to me and, and then we'll work it out.
JM: I think that would be the way.
RMN: I'd say that two years of Powell is worth twenty of somebody else, and that's the damn truth.
JM: In this particular circumstance, as I keep pointing out to him, that's absolutely correct.
RMN: You pointed out the need for a prestigious appointment and that sort of thing?
JM: Right, and commitment to the South and the need to rehabilitate the Court in the eyes of the South - all of which he agrees.
RMN: He agrees with all that?
JM: He is just too conscientious, that's the problem. That's why, I think if you put duty above conscience, that's the clincher.
RMN: You know, with Baker, I just want you to press him, John - the more I think about it - with that law practice, and incidently, I don't think we should run it by Baker, I mean , they are just not going to crucify another senator up there.
JM: I am of the opinion that if it comes out the way I anticipate it will, based on early conversations,
RMN: Here's the point, too, even by our own FBIs and all that - the minute that gets out, we all know Howard Baker's background, he's no crook damnit, and frankly, the senate wouldn't put it out if he were.
JM: I believe that to be the case. I don't think that opposition will go dig it
RMN: That's my point Incidentally, it occurred to me that one fellow is very much a Baker supporter on other things has been Brook. Remember in the campaign? Baker got Brook to come with me on the plane?
JM: Yes, he has a great rapport with Brook.
RMN: Well now, that isn't going to hurt. I have a feeling that this guy is intelligent and got a strong mind - I must say, not as sure as he could be, but you know that on most stuff he going to be good, you just can't expect him to be 100 %
JM: The way he was talking today about your philosophy--
RMN: Did he sound allright?
JM: Oh completely. A matter of fact he was talking about exposure in other areas, with other people. I think that when he starts recognizing, and starts talking about it, I think it's about as much as you'll get-
RMN: What does he mean exposure in other areas?
JM: People - they may not have the same philosophy. They might in criminal law, but not in civil rights and so forth. He has followed this intensely.
RMN: Could I ask you to do one other thing?
JM: Yes sir.
RMN: Have you ever tried the Mulligan name out on a, say, a fellow like Ehrlichman, to see what he thinks? I mean, I just don't know. Is it? Are we too concerned about this mediocre business with him? I'm just thinking on this and I'm going to put it to Powell. But if he doesn't go, then I just lean to Mulligan right now.
JM: Well, I'll talk to John about it and let him think about it.
RMN: Say, after all he's a dean of a law school.
JM: And I'll tell you what I might also, because John keeps turning to him for the PR, let me talk to Dick Moore and have him go and sit down with Ehrlichman.
RMN: Good, all right, that's the way to do it. And tell him in the highest of confidence.
RMN: In case the -- Lillie thing, tell him we've got a problem there-- but we think, but I lean strongly to him for reasons that have to do with Fordham, I like the dean thing. I like the fact it isn't the number one law school. Goddamnit, I didn't go to a number one law school, John. Ah, where'd you go? You go to Harvard?
JM: Not recently.
JM: As a matter of fact, I was touted off going to Harvard.
RMN: Well, the whole point is that this number one law school bullshit is getting me down a little, isn't it you?
JM: It has for about thirty years. They just don't produce the product.
RMN: Well sure, look, you've seen a lot of Harvard men around, they're soft in the head. And they don't work as hard. But, now, this Fordham man may be all right. I've seen some pretty good Fordham graduates, haven't you?
JM: Yes, I have. As a matter of fact, they're spread all over the Northeast and doing a hell of a lot better than the people from Harvard.
RMN: And let me tell you, if you take on the dean of Fordham, they're taking on then the Notre Dame dean, and a hell of a lot of others. Santa Clara, huh? Loyola.
JM: About, ah, about eighty percent of the schools.
RMN: Right, but I mean they're taking on all the Catholic deans.
JM: Yep, very much so.
RMN: Well, would you run that by Dick Moore? And then, and I don't want them to bring it to me, because I don't like this business of my being lobbied by the staff on things.
JM: Yep, mmm huh.
RMN: But just say you are just checking yourself, see. Will you do that?
JM: Yes sir, I will.
RMN: That's better, and say that this - put it on Burger, say that he's raised his name. Would you do that? Say that he's maybe mediocre but, what do you think?