President Nixon's telephone conversation with John Mitchell. October 21, 1971, 8:40 p.m.
President Nixon: ...But on the other hand, we really threw a bombshell at these bastards tonight, didn't we?
John Mitchell: We really did--
RMN: What do you think? I haven't watched the TV. I never look at these things. How's it coming across?
JM: Well, let me tell you, they were just so flabbergasted they didn't know what to say--The more important thing is the phone calls that have been coming in here from all over from all segments.
RMN: Are they?
JM: And it's just great--
RMN: About both, even about Rehnquist?
JM: Oh, yeah--
RMN: Of course, that first in his class is what these goddamn snobs - that's what impresses them. And law clerk to Jackson, that impressed Meany, they tell me…
JM: I think it could be. (laughs) I think the important thing is the 'lawyer to the president'
RMN: And I gave it a little bit of a punch there, when I pointed out I've been a member of a New York law firm. And he was the brightest guy that I know-You know, one things that's interesting, I think I may have helped a little on the understanding of the Court and respect for the law-
JM: That's what I was going to say-
RMN: Burger ought to have appreciated this speech.
JM: Oh hell, I'll bet he's just sitting up in bed with his fever, and doing well-
RMN: This means, John, that we will have appointed four good men. Everybody recognizes that Burger is a good man, Blackmun is a good man, Powell, a course, everyone will recognize it. And Rehnquist is the smartest of the whole goddamn bunch
RMN: (Laughs) And he's on our side, isn't he?
JM: The reception over this is just unbelievable-before I left the office, I talked to some reporters-
JM: And the commentary was that they were completely flabbergasted-
RMN: After the speech? They were out of their minds-
JM: And I think I have the bar behind us-
RMN: What did Walsh say? He must have about died.
JM: He died a little bit about my letter, but he was very enthusiastic about these appointments.
RMN: Well, good. But he'd just impressed because he's first in his law class. I'm not a goddamned bit-I'm more interested in the man
JM: I think you did a great thing for the court.
RMN: I really built them up. You know, and I talked about respect the law, whether you agree and obey the law and all that. And they oughta appreciate it, the bastards-
JM: Well they should, and said it in a very mild mannered way. You got across to the American public
RMN: Be sure to emphasize to all the southerners that Rehnquist is a reactionary bastard, which I hope to Christ he is…In a pure press sense, it's like China…the bastards were completely taken by surprise. They didn't know what the hell was gonna hit 'em. Ha! Doesn't that amuse you? We kept it quiet…