Have you ever heard an American president threaten to shoot someone? Now you can say you have.
This week, the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum released around 340 hours of previously unheard tapes from Nixon’s final years in office. The tapes, ranging from April to July 1973, recorded conversations on the phone, in the Oval Office, in the Cabinet room, and even at Camp David.
On July 12, 1973, President Nixon spoke on the phone with the new White House Chief of Staff, Alexander Haig Jr.
Haig became the Chief of Staff on April 30, 1973, the same day H.R. “Bob” Haldeman resigned due to involvement with the Watergate scandal. On the July 12 phone call, Haig was calling to discuss the leader of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev’s upcoming visit to the United States. You can hear the full conversation, which lasted from 11:38 p.m. to 11:41 p.m., below:
Nixon tells Haig that he and Brezhnev have decided not to go to Houston, Texas. Nixon feared Texas would produce too many “Birchers,” or members of the vitriolic anti-communist John Birch Society, to protest Brezhnev’s presence and disrupt the peace process.
Then the conversation gets interesting:
Nixon: He and I will ride in the same plane. He doesn’t want to go to Houston.
Nixon: And that’s good because we we’re..but you see in Houston you could run into birchers. In California it’s a controlled audience and by god there will be nothing there, I will shoot every son of a bitch in the place.
Nixon later said that he wants security to, “Screen them all, but I want a crowd, but I want them to be decent.
It’s a good thing they did go to California, because the crowd proved to be very welcoming. Brezhnev addressed a crowd just before leaving the United States on June 24, 1973 saying:
Today when our visit draws to an end and the day of our departure grows closer, I’m very happy indeed to have this opportunity once again to express my gratitude to the President of the Unites States for the hospitality that was accorded to me and all my colleagues present here in California.
Read more revelations and oddities from the newly released Nixon tapes below: