80. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Secretary of State Kissinger in Islamabad1

Tohak 96/WH 43021. 1. WHCA has just informed me that the Cairo hotline is now in operation.

2. Don Kendall called to tell me of a telephone conversation he had had with the President,2 reporting on his recent meeting with Brezhnev.3 He told the President Brezhnev had told him he had heard conflicting rumors about the situation in the U.S. and, more specifically, about the President and you, and he was wondering what the situation was and what might happen. Kendall said that he told Brezhnev that the President had assured him that U.S. policy would continue and that you would continue to play the key role you had in the past. Kendall said that Brezhnev had also mentioned that he had heard talk about splitting your two jobs, such talk emanating from people close to the President like Laird. At that point, Kendall said, the President interrupted him and said that he wanted Kendall to know and to tell Brezhnev when he next saw him that he had total confidence in you and that he felt that you had confidence in him, in the sense of giving him the freedom to run things. The President said that you would continue to have his total support. About the Laird aspect, the President said that when the transition team made its report to him, one member had mentioned the possibility of splitting the jobs. The President said he had responded that that would not happen and he wanted no further discussion of it. He made it clear, he told Kendall, that that is the way it was and would remain. The President added that so far as Mel Laird was concerned, he does go around talking a lot, but he is not as close to the President as he thinks. He talks too much and “goes around telling people about his influence with me (the President)—and that he does not have.” Kendall went on to say that Brezhnev had made clear the deep reliance they placed on you as the symbol of U.S. policy and of relationships with the Soviet Union. Kendall said he conveyed all this to the President and the overall impression he had was very very reassuring with respect to you—both on the Moscow end and on the White House end. Thought you would like to know.

[Page 281]

[Omitted here are points on the President’s schedule and proposals to revise the Geneva Protocol.]

Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables of Henry Kissinger, 1974–1977, Box 3, Kissinger Trip File, 10/20–11/9/74, Europe, South Asia & Middle East, TOHAK (7). Secret; Exclusively Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. No other record of Kendall’s telephone conversation with Ford has been found.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 63.