84. Conversation Among President Nixon, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), the White House Chief of Staff (Haig), and the White House Press Secretary (Ziegler)1

Nixon: Hello, Henry.

Kissinger: Hello, Mr. President. Thank you for your cable.

Nixon: [Laughs] You got it, did you?

Kissinger: It was received—

Nixon: I also cabled the White House. It’s not quite as—

Kissinger: Oh, marvelous—and Sullivan.

Nixon: I sent a wire to him, but that’s [unclear]. But I—but yours, I thought, you could pass on to the staff.

Kissinger: Yes.

Nixon: But, Al, this, of all—I told Al last night, of all the things you’ve done, it was the toughest, because you had no cards. I mean, you went to this thing with a broken flush. And the other thing, you were looking, and, and you were looking at a—basically at, at four aces. And you knew damn well he had four aces. And, by golly, you, you pulled it off. I don’t know how you did it.

Haig: That’s right.

Kissinger: Well, I must—

Nixon: All I did was write the most nasty cables to Thieu that he’s received since [unclear]—

Kissinger: Well, but, Mr. President—

Nixon: But, boy, we—I, I—I’m sure you don’t mind, that after Scowcroft brought him in, I gussied him up a little. [unclear] you were there when the Ambassador [unclear]. I hated doing it ‘cause he’s a nice guy. [Laughs] He went out of here shaking like a leaf. I told him, I said, “Look, if we [don’t] get this, our leaders are going to say [unclear] won’t have any aid [unclear].”

Kissinger: No, I think you, again, put yourself on the line, and that put it over in Saigon. But, they were in a suicidal mood in Saigon.

[Omitted here is discussion of Kissinger’s forthcoming press conference.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Conversation No. 940–2. No classification marking. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met with Kissinger, Haig, and Ziegler in the Oval Office from 9:34 to 10:51 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files) The editor transcribed the portion of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume.