42. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Senator Mike Mansfield
  • Senator Hugh Scott
  • Senator William Fulbright
  • Senator George Aiken
  • Senator Hubert Humphrey
  • Congressman Thomas O’Neill
  • Congressman John Rhodes
  • Congressman Thomas Morgan
  • Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen
  • L/General Brent Scowcroft
  • Mr. William Timmons


  • Bipartisan Leadership Breakfast with the President

[Omitted here is discussion of Cyprus and military assistance to Turkey.]

The President: Let’s spend just a minute on JacksonVanik. I met with Scoop last Saturday.2 My position is to have a waiver. If, at the end of the year the Soviet Union hasn’t performed, I would kill MFN. The Soviet Union has agreed they wouldn’t interfere with applications and any applicant could leave, except for security cases.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s about 1 or 1-½% of the total.

The President: And no harassment. If they stick by that, I would so certify and MFN would continue. We propose to Scoop a procedure like we had on the pay bill.3 Scoop wants affirmative action by the Congress under a complicated system he says will ensure the Congress will act.

Senator Fulbright: That won’t work.

[Page 128]

Senator Scott: No, it won’t.

The President: Scoop has worked out a complicated procedure, but you know it can be circumvented.

Why we would even be willing to let it be a one-House veto.

Senator Humphrey: What has Javits said about all this.

Secretary Kissinger: What the President described is what the Soviets have told us. But they won’t guarantee a specific figure and they claim emigration is down because of the Middle East situation. There is probably something to that (described Belgian action on re-emigrators). We would communicate all these understandings in a letter to Scoop and he would answer back with his clarifications.

Senator Humphrey: To Scoop? And how about the rest of us?

Secretary Kissinger: Scoop would write back and say he understands 60,000 is what we could expect as an adequate figure. The Soviets will not agree to that. And you know there is no way for the Soviet Union to live up to every detail of these requirements, so Jackson could use every isolated example to scream bad faith. (Described how we couldn’t require typed applications.)

No government could or should live up to this intrusion.

Senator Fulbright: We certainly wouldn’t.

Secretary Kissinger: But we would certainly know through the Jewish network of systematic violations. And Brezhnev sort of has promised personal attention to individual cases. But the Soviet Union has not agreed to 60,000 and Jackson at the end of the waiver period could scream trickery. We do not accept his specific number.

[The President mentioned the Kudirka case to show Soviet cooperation.]

Senator Humphrey: I’m glad to hear they are human. If you think the Greeks have pressure, we have more from the Jews. You’ve got to get the top Jewish leaders in and tell them what has been done. The President has an ironclad case on this.

Senator Scott: We have made these points to the Jewish Community. The Israeli Government has to . . . (interrupted).

The President: If the JacksonVanik Amendment comes up, we can’t buy it. So there would be no trade bill and probably no Jewish emigration. The way to go is our way so we can get a trade bill and emigration.

Senator Mansfield: I couldn’t vote for the bill as Henry has described the process.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: Would you leave Scoop’s letter unanswered?

[Page 129]

Secretary Kissinger: We would reply saying we understand this is your view—a waffle. But he would always claim trickery.

Senator Humphrey: Why not spell out this to the leadership? Why to Scoop? I am mean too. We know the President won’t let non-compliance turn into a political football. It is absolutely safe. Democratic politics will be wild in 1976. The President should spell out the understandings—or Henry, but not to Scoop.

Senator Scott: If sentiment here is opposed, just tell Scoop what the leaders think.

Secretary Kissinger: We could put in a letter from me what I have described.

Senator Humphrey: Someone should spell it out to the committees, not to Scoop.

Senator Scott: Tell Scoop there should not be a private treaty.

Secretary Kissinger: There are two choices—if we write a letter to the leadership and he replies, he is just one Senator. But if we write him and he replies, it is part of the legislative record.

Congressman Rhodes: A letter should go to Senator Long.

Senator Humphrey: A letter should go to Long. Then, anyone can send a letter back who wants to. If Scoop gets a letter, others who may have certain ambitions will want one.

The President: We brought this up because we are here working hard on this problem and I wanted the leadership to know the precise situation. I hope Scoop won’t feel we undercut him.

Secretary Kissinger: The Soviet Union says they can’t accept MFN if affirmative action is needed every year.

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East, foreign assistance, and energy policy.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 6. Secret. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. The meeting was held in the Family Dining Room in the Residence at the White House. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the bipartisan leadership breakfast lasted from 7:55 to 10:08 a.m. (Ibid., White House Office Files)
  2. September 21. The reference, however, is in error; Ford met with Jackson on Friday, September 20. See Document 35.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 35.