163. Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1

Tohak 21/WH51212. 1. The President this morning decided that if he gets a question Saturday night at his press conference on Solzhenitsyn, he will say that he would be happy to see him, as a great literary figure.2 I argued long and hard against it, but in the end I lost. The basic argument presented was that the President not seeing him is building into a major domestic political issue on which the right and the left are joined, the President’s good friends are not with him in light of the variety of other kinds of people he sees, and the whole concept of détente in this country will in the end suffer seriously. One other element raised was that with the Apollo–Soyuz launch, next week will be “Soviet week” and the President’s very high “pro-Soviet” visibility in connection with the space mission will make the refusal to see Solzhenitsyn stand in even more marked contrast and accentuate the criticism.

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2. As an example of the sentiment and “unholy alliance” which is building on the issue, there was cited the reception on Capitol Hill for Solzhenitsyn next Tuesday, thus far sponsored by 24 Senators.3 It is being held in apology to him for the President’s unwillingness to meet with him. The sponsors thus far are: Jackson, Biden, Bumpers, Church, Glenn, Humphrey, Inouye, Magnuson, McClellan, Pastore, Ribicoff, Stevenson, Stone, Williams, Case, Brock, Buckley, Helms, Javits, Packwood, Roth, Schweiker, Stevens, Taft and Weicker.

3. I argued against each and every point made, adding that the previous reasons for not seeing him remained completely valid and that it would now in addition be claimed that the President was caving under public pressure. I still lost.

4. If you wish to weigh in again on the issue, I suggest you do so today if possible. If it is possible to dissuade him, you are certainly the only one who can do it.4

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables of Henry Kissinger, 1974–1976, Box 10, Kissinger Trip File, July 9–12, 1975—Europe, TOHAK (2). Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. On July 11, Kissinger was in Geneva for the meetings with Gromyko; he then went to Bonn for meetings with Schmidt and Rabin.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ford met with Scowcroft on July 11 from 7:42 to 8:03 a.m.; at 10:30 he met for a half-hour with Rumsfeld, Cheney, Marsh, Friedersdorf, Nessen, and several other advisers. (Ibid., White House Office Files) No substantive record of either conversation has been found. In a memorandum to Rumsfeld on July 11, Cheney forwarded questions and answers on Solzhenitsyn for the President’s press conference the next day. (Ibid., Cheney Files, Box 10, Subject Files, Solzhenitsyn, Alexander)
  3. A list of 25 Senators who attended the July 15 reception was compiled by Friedersdorf, who forwarded it in an undated memorandum to Rumsfeld. (Ibid., Marsh Files, Box 30, General Subject File, Solzhenitsyn)
  4. No evidence has been found to indicate that Kissinger contacted Ford, either by telephone or telegram, before the President’s press conference in Chicago at 11:30 a.m. on July 12. Ford did not receive a question on Solzhenitsyn during the conference. (Public Papers: Ford, 1975, No. 396)