President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell. October 19, 1971, 5:38 p.m.
President Nixon: Hello?
Mitchell: Yes, Mr. President.
RMN: I still haven't heard from Powell. I've just left a call in just a few minutes ago but -
JM: I wonder if he's in transit?
RMN: Well, he's been in transit for quite awhile.
JM: Yeah, you can say that. I haven't heard back from Howard Baker yet either, although he said he'd call me back before five. I guess he's searching his soul.
JM: Another thought's occurred to me, Mr. President. If we can't get Baker and Powell doesn't pan out, you might consider this Bill Rehnquist over here that everybody is so high on.
RMN: Mmm, huh. Well, let me ask you -- what are his qualifications?
JM: Well, first of all -
RMN: He's an assistant attorney general.
JM: Yeah, in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel. In fact, Walsh has stated on a number of occasions, why in the hell don't you put up somebody like Rehnquist?
JM: So I think that would clear.
JM: He is, as I say, an arch-conservative. He was a great student, and a pretty tough guy.
RMN: Oh I understand that, but I mean - How about the qualifications thing, that's the thing?
JM: I would be inclined to believe that there would be no difficulties with it.
RMN: How long has he practiced law?
JM: Oh, Bill's been practicing, I guess, at least fifteen, maybe …
JM: He's from Arizona.
JM: [unintelligible] of course he might be tapped with the Kline Goldwater business ...but he's pretty eminent.
RMN: Did he go to law school there?
JM: I think he went to law school over in Stanford, with Ehrlichman, if I'm not mistaken.
RMN: Yeah. Was he, um hum?
JM: Just a thought I had. Everybody's so high on his ability and talent.
RMN: He's a hell of an able guy--What's his age?
JM: Oh Bill's -- must be in his late 40s, early 50s
RMN: He's younger than I thought.
RMN: How long has he been practicing law then?
JM: Must be 15-18 years at least.
RMN: Then he came to the government with us?
RMN: Then he must have practiced longer than that or he would not be that old. So he's got to be younger than that. Let's see, 24 plus 13 is only 34, 38, maybe he's only 40. He may be only 40.
JM: He's past that. I gather he's been practicing longer than that. You know a lawyer --lawyers practices, you know handling appeals, advising...
RMN: Has he done appeal work?
JM: Oh yes, yeah. Sure, he's done quite a bit of appellate work in all of the courts. Has been great before our congressional committees. Just a question of whether or not he'd fall under the category of distinction or not
RMN: Yeah mmm huh. Well I suppose, in a sense, if you went for him, you might just as well go for, uh, Smith. You know in, a sense--
JM: Quite possibly
RMN: They're both the same sort of -Smith has the same, is the bigger name.
JM: This could very well be, bigger name
RMN: Not in my view. I means he's -- I don't-
JM: I'm not certain it would be so at the national bar
RMN: I'd think it would --they're just so damn conscious of the--is it a big firm? is it a big city? and all that jazz you know.
JM: Well it certainly would, for what political benefits you get out of it, it certainly would be bigger a political plus
RMN: Well what about the other - a course I still think we oughta mull around our Irishman, too. Every play we make to those Catholics is good.
JM: I quite agree. I haven't heard back from Moore and Erlichman, but I'm sure I will before too long.
RMN: Good, well keep me posted. Howard damn well oughta to do this .Tell him we just won't take no for an answer.
JM: Ok, I'll put it like that, are you going to be available to see -
RMN: Sure, sure
JM: Ok , we can put a little more of it together,sir