296. Memorandum From President Nixon to his Counsel (Ehrlichman)1

At an early date next week, I would like for you to have a visit with Bill Rogers with regard to the announcements of Ambassadors. I believe our appointments at State up to this time have been good, but we are catching hell from a great number of our friends for our failure to put RN people in positions in the State Department except for Rogers, while all of the other appointments are considered to be either State Department careerists or at best pro-Rockefeller types.2 This does not concern me because I think Rogers will control the situation, but it does pose potential political problems for the future. We can cure it, or at least substantially cool it, by announcing in the near future a number of ambassadorial appointments. What is particularly important is that the blatant Johnson political appointees in ambassadorial posts must be removed immediately. I want Carter Burgess, Bill Costello who wrote a vicious book which was considered by legal experts to be libelous against RN, and approximately 16 others of this type to be removed just as quickly as possible. If we do not have replacements for them, let their Deputies stay there in charge until we get replacements for them.

I learned yesterday that this Administration has been the slowest of any new Administration in history in making ambassadorial appointments (other than simply transferring careerists around). We must move on this this week or we are going to have a very difficult situation developed among some of RN’s closest friends and supporters, both in Congress and outside.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Subject Files, Box 9, EX FO 2. No classification marking.
  2. In his diary entry for February 1, Haldeman wrote the following: “Session in afternoon with K[issinger] and Harlow, mainly about ambassadors and key appointments. [President] upset by press reports that he’s not changing people, especially in State. Ordered me to have resignations of all non-career ambassadors and all LBJ political appointees on his desk Monday. Said he’ll write them and ‘accept resignation with pleasure.’ Feels we haven’t done enough to get in good new people that are ours. He’s right. Problem is need to deal with Democratic Congress, and P isn’t tough enough with his Cabinet officers. Won’t make them fire incumbents and/or take our political recommendations. Ehrlichman now in charge of this, we’ll see how he can produce.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)