152. Editorial Note

The following exchanges between President Nixon and his assistant H.R. Haldeman took place in the Oval Office on June 12, 1971, sometime between 11:19 and 11:50 a.m.

Haldeman (reporting on Attorney General John Mitchell’s views on dealing with Israel): He says the problem is that there’s no one in the White House, nobody looking at it for the President. He thinks you’ve got to get someone to monitor it for you, not let Rogers make foreign policy in this area, which is what in effect—.

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“President: He doesn’t make foreign policy in any area, does he?

Haldeman: Basically no. And then John would argue that. He says Rogers should not. You know—the President should not allow foreign policy in any area.

“President: Well, foreign policy, the Secretary of State, Bob, does make foreign policy in other administrations. That’s the problem.”

And then shortly thereafter:

Haldeman: What you’ve go to look at is that with you as President—this is different with other Presidents—with you as President—

“President: Nobody else can run the foreign policy.

Haldeman: The Secretary of State should be a man who, a staff man to the President on foreign policy, not the competitor.

“President: Basically the difficulty is [Dean] Rusk was not the right kind of a foreign secretary for Johnson

Haldeman: He’s superb for you.

“President: Because he didn’t tell Johnson. He let Johnson be off and state his own view. Rusk would be perfect for me because he’d do what the hell I said. He’d argue but then he’d go out and do it, loyally.

Haldeman: So would Eliot Richardson.

“President: Oh, Eliot Richardson is great.

Haldeman: Because he can function as a staff man to you.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Haldeman, June 12, 1971, 11:19–11:50 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 518–6)