Miller Center

Let the Democrats squeal

This recording is presented as part of the Watergate Collection.
Date: Friday, September 15, 1972 - 5:24pm - 6:17pm
Participants: Richard Nixon, John Dean, Bob Haldeman
Location: Oval Office


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John Dean: The problem is this: there are so many damn Democrats down in Congress there--”

President Nixon: Oh, of course.

Dean: --”that it would have to be an artful job to go down and get that file.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Dean: Why the Commissioner and the Secretary can't figure out how they can't get down in there and get them despite the fact that there--”

President Nixon: That's right.

Dean: --”are some bureaucrats down there, I don't know. That's what I haven't ever been told the answer to. And we've been round and round on this for at least the two years I've been over here. 

President Nixon: Yeah.

Bob Haldeman: Well, after the election--”

President Nixon: Why in the hell [unclear]--”

Haldeman: [Unclear] let the Democrats down there squeal, and we just say, -- Well, we've got--”as a result of the election campaign we've had a lot of complaints and we've got to check these things out,-- and we just do it. But before that, we do have to do it artfully. 

President Nixon: We have to do it artfully so that we don't create an issue by using the IRS politically.

Dean: That's right.

President Nixon: And there are ways to do it, god damn it. Sneak in in the middle of the night.

Dean: Well, we have a man. We have a man who could do it and was doing it for me.

President Nixon: Yeah, they threw him out.

Dean: No, we've appointed him [to] a higher post. He is now the Commissioner of Customs. [Vernon] Mike Acree.1 Mike was very good. He could get down there and get me any information I needed. That didn't have to go through [Johnnie M.] Walters or anyone else.2

Haldeman: Why the hell did we promote him?

Dean: He's a good man. [laughs]

President Nixon: That's a hell of a loss, though.

Dean: That's right, it is. And Mike has lost his former ability to use other people over there now because it becomes very blatant.

Unclear, short interjection.

Haldeman: It actually--”the way things are now it doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference whether we get them before or after the election anyway.

President Nixon: Not an issue.

Haldeman: And we sure shouldn't take the risk of--”

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Haldeman: --”getting blown out of the water before the election.

Dean: Absolutely. [Unclear.]

Haldeman: We should keep--”we should find a way--”

President Nixon: But keep them worried. 

Haldeman: But after the election, I think--”so let them--”let the Democrats down there squeal and say, -- Nixon's pulling the tax files of all the Democrats.-- You say, -- You're damn right because we're worried about being charged with covering up tax problems.--

President Nixon: Sure.

Haldeman: -- And we're going to get--”--

President Nixon: They're the ones who've been talking about loopholes.

Haldeman: -- We've been having a lot of complaints and we're going to check them out.--

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: And let the Democrats squeal.

President Nixon: Let them find out about loopholes, right?

Dean: That's right.

President Nixon: And they [unclear].

Haldeman: Let them scream the about repression and all that stuff.

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: And just--”we've just got to not worry about it.

President Nixon: That's right. Oh, and it's just a Washington issue anyway.

Haldeman: It sure is.

President Nixon: Go right after it. Go after it and say, -- Well, we want to check these loopholes, and they're all worried about--”--

Haldeman: [Unclear.]

Dean: The other thing is you could always increase your compliance program at that point.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Dean: The compliance program has never been fully implemented.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Dean: Just happens that a lot of Democrats get caught in the compliance program.

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: We'll pull a lot of Republicans too and just don't look at those after we pull them.

President Nixon: Well, we'll pick the Republicans, for Christ sakes. [Unclear] just do as you say [unclear] but boy are we just going to do it.

Haldeman: We're pulling Republicans now, for Christ's sake.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: As [John] Connally points out, we have no qualms about investigating Billy Graham--”

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: --”and Dr. [Kenneth] Riland and all these people, you know.3 It's--”

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: It's . . .

President Nixon: Well, they're going to get some. We've just got to do it though, but you've got to kick Walter's ass out first and get a man in there.

Haldeman: I think that's right, isn't it?

Dean: Johnnie has been a disappointment.

President Nixon: Well, he's going to be out. He's finished. He's finished November 8, believe me. Out.

Dean: I don't--”there's not a dime's worth of difference between Randy Thrower and Johnnie Walters.4

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Dean: As far as response to the White House.

Haldeman: We've just got to get a guy with guts in there, don't we?

Dean: Yeah. He's a nice guy but he sure just can't get what we need. Except, except--”

Haldeman: We've got to get--”

President Nixon: [Unclear] only one with an appointment, correct? He must have more than one [unclear].

Dean: There are some--”not Presidential appointments, but there are secretarial, secretary of [the] treasury had a number of appointments as well as the--” 

Haldeman: At his pleasure.

Dean: At his pleasure, right.

President Nixon: Well, secretary of the treasury, get a hold of [George] Shultz now? Shultz has to know. No, he's got to know that the resignations of everybody--”the point is, I want there to be no holdovers left. The whole goddamn bunch go out. And if he doesn't do it, he's out of the secretary of the treasury. Now, that's the way it's going to be played. Now, that's the point, you see. Now, we--”they always get around this thing and say, -- Well, the White House can't appoint--”-- well, goddamn it, the secretary, those jobs. We're not going to have a secretary to the treasury who doesn't do what we say. Absolutely, every goddamn one, and if George doesn't want [unclear] that's too bad.

Haldeman: Well, that's just the point--”

President Nixon: It's going to be a rough game.

Haldeman: That's the point where if George, you know, and anybody, gets upset, say, -- Well, by God, we'll leave and pull the string on you, you know-- and say, -- this is why I'm leaving,-- let them do it.

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: Let him go out and say the White House forced him out because he wouldn't give names to people, or something.

President Nixon: That's right. That's right. That's right.

Dean: Now, I would [unclear]--”

Haldeman: We've got to have a different attitude.

Dean: --”that they're done quickly because it seems sometimes when we wait on these things--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Dean: --”we get locked in and they don't happen.

Haldeman: Sure.

President Nixon: [Unclear.]

Haldeman: Well, the excuse of waiting was that we, you know, we don't have a guy to fill it. That doesn't make any difference either, now. We can leave it empty.

President Nixon: That's right.

Haldeman: We can leave the whole goddamn government empty.

President Nixon: And we're going to.

Haldeman: It wouldn't hurt the world one bit.

President Nixon: That's good. That's good. Including embassies, everything else, just out they go, state department, clean then out,

Haldeman: Let [unclear] run them for a while.

President Nixon: That's right. That's right. They all go.

Dean: That's an exciting concept.

Haldeman: Oh, it sure is. [laughter] Well, [unclear] say, it'll set this country--”it'll be so positive--”

President Nixon: Yeah.

Haldeman: --”that this country will say -- My God, finally.--

President Nixon: -- Finally somebody is cleaning house.-- That's right.

  1. Vernon -- Mike-- Acree was Assistant Commissioner of the IRS.
  2. Johnnie M. Walters was Commissioner of the IRS.
  3. Dr. Kenneth Riland was Nixon's personal physician.
  4. Randolph W. Thrower was Commissioner of the IRS from 1969 to 1971.