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President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell.
October 20, 1971, 5:33 p.m.

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John Mitchell: Powell made a speech one time in which he condemned Martin Luther King for his activism -

President Nixon: Oh, the hell with it. I'm for that.

JM: And he has backed wiretapping and so forth, so -

RMN: Everything's just great. And he's a hell of a scholar. Where did he go to law school? Not that that bothers me particularly.

JM: I hear so damn many of these things, I don't-- I forget.

RMN: Anyway, just get me a damn strong statement with regard to how superbly qualified he is and so forth.

JM: That I will.

RMN: Have that prepared, because my feeling is to do them in tandem, and announce it, say, in a five-minute national TV around seven-thirty. I think it's the best way to do it, since we got Powell. How about Baker? Have you heard from him?

JM: Baker surprised me. He is apparently on an airplane coming back from Knoxville.

RMN: That's nice.

JM: And has left no word about why he went or anything about it. He'll be in here at -

RMN: Maybe we leave him off the list.

JM: Well, they say he'll be in here at quarter to six. His plane's due in at five forty-five so we should have the -

RMN: Well, you know, I still think that the Rehnquist thing is a damn good possibility, you know --if he doesn't go. I know it doesn't do much politically, but when you think of the guys' record, he's just -- it's a hell of a record.

JM: There's no question its' perfect for that. I wanna gp tomorrwo night

RMN: I mean, who's going to say that a law clerk to Bob Jackson is unqualified?

JM: I've talked to Judge Walsh.

RMN: Yeah, how's he coming out?

JM: They have turned down both of them.

RMN: Good.

JM: Which was to be expected.

RMN: Turned down Friday?

JM: Yep.

RMN: Well I'll be damned.

JM: It was a six to six vote.

RMN: And how about Lillie, what was it there?

JM: Eleven to one.

RMN: What'd they just say? Not qualified?

JM: Yep.

RMN: Great.

JM: And you know what they said? That she was probably as good as any woman that could be considered by the Court. This statement was made up there.

RMN: Are they going to put that out?

JM: No, no. They're not going to put anything out.

RMN: Well we'll put it out. Get that out.

JM: We'll get it out at the time and place when we want to.

RMN: We've got to do it before we make the damn announcement.

JM: That's what Walsh told me the statements were.

RMN: That's nice, that's nice. And the stacked jury thing is going to really kill them.

JM: One other part of this scenario I would like to deliver to Walsh, at the appropriate time -- a letter disassociating ourselves from them.

RMN: Yes, I want you to prepare one. You prepare it. You put it out, the press statement. Good. Now you have to wait for the fellow, do you?

JM: For Baker?

RMN: Yeah.

JM: Yes.

RMN: I want to go tomorrow night, John. If Baker doesn't say no, or says yes tonight, then my view is to - I really lean very strongly to the Rehnquist one. Some way or another, I think that's such a surprise. You don't have the problem of Smith's law clients, and all that sort of stuff you know if you feel comfortable with him.

JM: I feel very comfortable with him.

RMN: All right, well, that's the way I'll do it. It's either Baker or Rehnquist. All right with you?

JM: All right, sir.

RMN: So prepare something on - God damn it, Baker shouldn't diddle us along like this, I mean that's -

JM: He didn't even have the courtesy of calling up and saying he was going down there for this, that and the next reason.

RMN: When does he get back?

JM: He's supposed to have arrived at five forty-five this evening, so we may still hear from him before too long.

RMN: You've got a call in to him, have you?

JM: Yes, sir.

RMN: I want it laid right on the line, we're not going to wait. Because I want to go. You see once this bar leaks out, you realize that that will cause a-- and I'm just not going to be beaten over the head with it all weekend, see?

JM: I agree.

RMN: I'm going to make the announcement tomorrow night at seven-thirty pm.

JM: All right. I think that would be great. And we'll program it towards that time.

RMN: So I'm going to make the decision now to go at seven-thirty. I'll tell Haldeman quietly to get the time. Fair enough?

JM: Very good, sir.