President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell. October 20, 1971, 5:33 p.m.
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.
JM: Which was to be expected.
RMN: Turned down Friday?
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: 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: 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?