Nixon Tapes Reveal Anti-Semitic Remarks

The Nixon Library has released thousands of documents and hours of tapes.

ByABC News
February 11, 2009, 1:10 AM

July 11, 2007 — -- Numerous tape recorded conversations and tens of thousands of pages of sensitive, special files from President Richard Nixon's administration were revealed Wednesday when the National Archives released the president's previously private documents and tapes to the public.

The materials cover Nixon's time in the White House as well as his 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns.

And they reveal new details of what some will regard as anti-Semitic remarks the former president made while in office.

The taped conversations took place in the Oval Office, in the President's Old Executive Office Building office, and in the Lincoln Sitting Room in the residence of the White House and were recorded between Nov. 3, 1972, and Nov. 19, 1972.

Two weeks after the 1972 election, Nixon discusses how to reshuffle his cabinet and other top posts.

Talking with Chuck Colson -- who was Nixon's chief counsel from 1969 to 1973 and was jailed on Watergate-related charges -- the men agree that they want "a Jew" to have a prominent post in Nixon's second term.

Nixon: "I don't basically want a "house Jew" for example, like Max Fisher, you know, is insisting that his man come in and I'm not going to do that."

Colson: "No."

Nixon: "But if (Len) Garment stays on, and, which is probably likely. You know, somebody's got to handle the bicentennial and all that nonsense. He's very good at it. Let him be the House Jew, don't you agree?"

Fisher, who recommended the unnamed individual referred to by Nixon, was a Detroit businessman and wealthy Republican donor.

Garment would later become counsel to the president after John Dean left during Watergate.

In a later exchange, Nixon says he wants an Italian in his cabinet: "Goddamn it, Chuck, we haven't got an Italian yet. I can't find any," he says on the tape.

Colson suggests former ABC News correspondent John Scali for the United Nations Ambassador job.

Nixon thinks that's a good idea. Scali is not only Italian, but Nixon believes "he'll take orders."

That is important, Nixon says, because, "That whole staff up there is violently anti-Nixon... and (George H.W.) Bush hasn't done one damn thing about it. He's become part of it."

When considering an African American for the post, Nixon says, "We don't owe the blacks a damn thing, anyway."

Colson agrees: "Oh, hell no. As a matter of fact, Mr. President, I think it's a bad signal to put a black in the cabinet."

The night before the 1972 election, Nixon and Colson chortle on one tape over the bad press his Democratic opponent, George McGovern, is receiving after he snapped at a heckler: "Kiss my ass."

Nixon says the difference between McGovern and Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew is that: "Agnew has dignity."