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Telephone conversation between President Richard Nixon and Elliot Richardson
April 30, 1973, 10:34 p.m.


President Nixon: Hello?

Elliot Richardson: Hello, Mr. President.

RMN: Hi Elliot

ER: Thank you for calling back.

RMN: No, I tried to reach you about a half hour ago but the damn lines were so busy.

ER: Really? I don't know what that was. Well, I was very-I thought that was really great.

RMN: Well, you're very kind to say that.

ER: In a real sense your finest hour.

RMN: I tried to call you, actually-I mean, you know, I just-just learned, you know, about this, you know because, you know, the lines have been jammed, and I just learned about five minutes ago from Steve Bull that you had called. And I said, for Christ sakes, why don't you put it through? Then he said, well, we had other calls on, you know, and I was on the phone. Good God, my God, Billy Graham and eighteen other people, but I just wanted you to know I hadn't cut you off because of that.

ER: Well-

RMN: Because you can always get through. I want you to know, you can always get through, believe me.

ER: Well, I thank you, Mr. President. And I was very moved and touched by what you said about me and I-

RMN: Oh, well.

ER: And I can assure you that-well, you know what I mean.

RMN: I know.

ER: I won't let you down.

RMN: Do your job, boy, and it may take you all the way.

ER: You know, it so happened that I was having a party here tonight for the military assistants who have been with [Deputy Defense Secretary] Bill Clements and me and who were just leaving for new jobs. And so all the [Joint] Chiefs were here.

RMN: Right.

ER: And we all watched and listened to you together.

RMN: What did they think?

ER: I've never-I don't think I've never ever been with a group of people who were more moved by an occasion like this.

RMN: Really? Really?

ER: And it was a great thing, really, for all of us.

RMN: Well, you know I meant it, you know. As you know Elliot it came from the heart because you were up there with me and you know how rugged this was, but had to be done.

ER: We, we could see that it was very, very-

RMN: Well, you're the man, you're my man and by God we back you up all to the hilt, do you understand that?

ER: I do, I do.

RMN: All right, Elliot.

ER: And I won't let you down Mr. President.

RMN: Oh, I know that. I know that. That's why I named you. [Laughter]

ER: Well I gotta say that uh, I [pause]

RMN: Go ahead.

ER: I have the feeling that I think I can do it right. I really do.

RMN: Of course you can. Of course you can. Elliot, the one thing they're going to be hitting you on is about the special prosecutor.

ER: Yeah.

RMN: The point is, I'm not sure you should have one. I'm not sure but what you should say you assume the responsibility for the prosecution and maybe bring that nice fellow [first name unknown] Hastings or whatever his name is, say he's-but whatever you want. Good God, if you want, you know, to exhume [one Chief Justice] Charles Evans Hughes, do it, you know. I don't mind. [Laughter]

ER: Okay. Well, I'm thinking about it, and I met with Henry Petersen this afternoon.

RMN: Right.

ER: And I talked with him about it, and I'll think about it some more.

RMN: Do what you want, and I'll back you to the hilt. I don't give a damn what you do, I am for you. Do you understand? Get to the bottom of this sonofabitch.

ER: I do.

RMN: All right, Elliot.

ER: Thank you, sir.

RMN: Thank you for calling and give my best to your lovely wife.

ER: I will. Thanks.