Nixon Tapes Reveal Anti-Semitic Remarks

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

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.

Nixon: 'I Don't Basically Want a House Jew'

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.

Nixon: 'We Don't Owe the Blacks a Damn Thing'

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."

Nixon Rips McGovern

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."

Less than a year later, Agnew would resign in disgrace, pleading "no contest" to a federal charge of tax evasion.

In that same exchange, Nixon labels the McGovern campaign a "disaster":

Nixon: "Well, he's tired. The poor devil is running around. Of course, he's only 50 years of age. Christ, when I was 50 I could go like hell."

Colson: "Well, he doesn't have the stuff."

Nixon: "You don't think so?"

Colson: "No, no. I think he realizes he's on the verge of an impending…"

Nixon: "Disaster."

Colson: "Disaster from his side. Everything has gone wrong."

Nixon Versus the Media

In another tape where Nixon is speaking to Colson on election night in 1972, Colson and Nixon note that a White House staffer is closely monitoring network coverage to see whether the media coverage is fair to Nixon.

At first, Nixon says, "I understand they are doing fairly well."

But then, as they discuss the details of the coverage, the men start taking shots at the media.

Nixon says David Brinkley, then at NBC News, got the vote totals wrong.

Colson says there is not much point watching CBS because the network was having union problems which apparently affected their coverage:

Colson: "They (CBS) are losing 3 or 4 million (viewers or dollars, it is unclear) a day."

Colson then adds sarcastically, "It's very sad."

Nixon: "That's a shame."

Colson: "Shedding a lot of tears for CBS."

In another part of a tape, Colson gives Nixon a long briefing on the early results and says it's gonna be "one hell of a landslide."

Colson discusses a rising star in G.O.P. Maine politics named Bill Cohen, who later became a senator and Secretary of Defense: "...bright young Jewish fellow," Colson observes.

Nixon, always able to look on the dark side, says no matter how well he does his critics will carp that he failed to win the House and Senate for Republicans: "...that's the way they will piss on us."

David Eisenhower, Nixon's son-in-law, gives him an early update on election returns.

"Damn," the president exclaims when he hears that Louis Nunn is losing the Kentucky Senate race.

Nixon says he wants to win in Illinois by a larger margin than Republican Sen. Charles Percy, who was never a Nixon favorite.

Nixon Calls GOP Senator a "Jackass"

In a different taped conversation between Nixon and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on election night 1972, Nixon tells Kissinger that Republicans have lost some Senate races because some incumbents were too old and because one of them, former Senator Jack Miller from Iowa, was a "jackass."

Talking with Colson again at another point, Nixon worries that the public relations effort to defend him in his second term is going to be even weaker than it already was.

"We may end up exactly where we used to be which was goddamned poor, with Kissinger never doing anything on the P.R. side," Nixon says on the tape.

Then Nixon complains, "Why doesn't the (Republican) National Committee do something, why doesn't the leader do something."

"They don't have the clout," responds Colson.

"They not only don't have the clout, they don't have the desire," Nixon says.

Nixon Calls McGovern "a Prick"

Several hours after the election, after 1:00am, when vote totals are known, Henry Kissinger calls Nixon to congratulate him on the landslide victory: "It's an extraordinary tribute," he said.

Nixon says he got every state except Massachusetts and maybe Minnesota, and he says expects to win that one, too. Nixon did.

Then they go after the loser, George McGovern:

Nixon: "You know this fellow, to the last, was a prick. Did you see his concession statement?"

Kissinger: "Oh, cut it out."

Nixon: "He was very gracious in the beginning."

Nixon says speechwriter Ray Price urged him to send McGovern a message that he looks forward to working with him and his supporters for peace in the years ahead.

Nixon: "And I just said hell no, I'm not gonna send him that sort of wire. Don't you agree?"

Kissinger: "Absolutely…. He was ungenerous, petulant, unworthy."

Nixon: "As you probably know, I responded in a very decent way to him."

Kissinger: "I thought it was a great statement."

Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who lost to Nixon in '68, calls at 1:30am to congratulate him.

Nixon said he was asked privately by someone to compare the '72 race with '68. Nixon says in '68 both he and Humphrey put the country first.

But in the '72 race, Nixon said, "This time we had a problem where one fellow (McGovern) said any goddamn thing that came into his head."

Nixon is talking, of course, about Vietnam.

Nixon tells Humphrey, in very confidential tones, that for 3 days he has known that peace talks were "in his pocket," but he implies he did not want to reveal this because it would look like politics.

Humphrey said he talked to Kissinger a few days earlier, and Kissinger asked whether the Democrats could have gotten such a settlement, and Humphrey said no.

Nixon says he knows that Humphrey did not approve of some of McGovern's tactics.

Of course, peace was not at hand, and less than two months after the election, Nixon started bombing Hanoi for the first time.

Humphrey also wants to brag on his son's election to the Minnesota legislature. Nixon says that's fine, but he is more interested in whether Humphrey thinks Nixon will carry the only remaining close race, Minnesota, where the count is close.

Humphrey assures Nixon he will win handily.

They are very chummy with each other, but Nixon finally managed to get Humphrey off the phone.

More tapes and documents will be released from the Nixon library in mid-2008.

ABC News' Lisa Chinn contributed to this report.