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President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell.
October 20, 1971, 4:44 p.m.


John Mitchell: I was on the phone with Lew Powell when you called and he is available….

President Nixon: He's going to go then?

JM: Yes, sir. I have not been able to get a hold our little senator friend. I don't know whether -

RMN: Let me ask you this. I just got Dick in here, Dick Moore, a minute ago.

JM: Yeah.

RMN: And I may reevaluate. He comes down very hard on your man Rehnquist. He just thinks that, you know, second in his class at Stanford, was clerk to Robert Jackson, uh, and then from your account, apparently conservative.

JM: Absolutely.

RMN: And would make a brilliant justice. Would you agree?

JM: Yes, sir.

RMN: What would the country say about him? He sure is qualified, isn't he?

JM: I would believe so. I don't think there's any question about it.

JM: It's an opinion expressed by Ed Walsh when we were talking about this. From his point of view, he certainly would. What is the political mileage out of it?

RMN: We've got Powell and now - Powell has said yes?

JM: Yes sir.

RMN: That's great…Now, on Powell, I want Powell. I want to go forward and announce that before it starts leaking.

JM: Well, there isn't anybody gonna leak it that, that I know of.

RMN: Well I don't want you to tell Walsh.

JM: I will not, of course. And what we have to do is to program this Walsh committee business so we can use it, use them -

RMN: Well how about announcing Powell this afternoon?

JM: I wouldn't do that until we've first -

RMN: Heard from Walsh?

JM: Yeah, we want to program that committee so we can blame the woman on that.

RMN: I see. But I mean, Powell is not getting a woman's seat. Well, I get your point. Alright. You'll hear from the Walsh committee when? This afternoon?

JM: Yes sir. Ed Walsh has got a call in to me now.

RMN: Yeah, all right, call me back when you get it. But remember, let's figure on the Rehnquist thing. The political mileage basically is the same kind of mileage if we were to go with Smith. The idea being that we are appointing a highly qualified man. That's really what it gets down to.

JM: Yeah.

RMN: And also he doesn't smack of the corporate lawyer as much as Smith.

JM: No, he's more of a general practitioner.

RMN: Incidentally, what is Rehnquist? I suppose he's a damn Protestant?

JM: I'm sure of that. He's just as WASPish as WASPish can be.

RMN: Yeah, well, that's too damn bad. Tell him to change his religion.

JM: All right, I'll get him baptized this afternoon.

RMN: Well, get him baptized and castrated, no, they don't do that, I mean they circumcise- no, that's the Jews. Well anyway, whatever he is, get him changed.

JM: All right, let me pursue this further with Lew Powell, and I'll see if I can run down Baker and then I'll talk to Walsh and get back to you.