It was 40 years ago this week that embattled former President Richard Nixon agreed to turn over audio recordings of his White House conversations to Watergate investigators. But while the "Nixon Tapes" are in the public record, no historian has listened to and transcribed more of the almost 4,000 total hours than Texas A&M Professor and author Luke Nichter, who runs NixonTapes.org. Now, he and best-selling author Douglas Brinkley have teamed up to write the "definitive" book on the tapes.
In his research, Luke has found some gems that have been hiding in plain sight for years and he's shared one of Nixon's more light-hearted conversations with me as an exclusive for Hardball. Here's Richard Nixon with his secretary Rose Mary Woods speaking about Henry Kissinger's recent trip to the Soviet Union -- the subject? "Russian Hospitality":
As seen on Hardball 10/21/13, with special thanks to Luke Nichter for bringing this audio clip and transcript to my attention.
Nixon: Where the hell do you think Kissinger was over the weekend when I was trying to call him?
Woods: Probably out with some babe.
Kissinger: That’s it—
Nixon: Well, I’d hope so. I hope so.
Woods: He probably was.
Kissinger: It wasn’t [unclear]. I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. President, it wasn’t through lack of offers.
Nixon: Is that right?
Woods: Oh, my word. Aren’t you modest, Henry—?
Kissinger: No. No, there it's got nothing to do with modesty. The head of their State Security, General [Sergei] Antonov, greeted me at the airport and said he had a whole bunch of girls, all 25-years and younger...
Kissinger: Then I said I want to take a swim. So, again, they said—they asked, “Do I want masseuses?”
Nixon: Masseuse? Oh, they use those for that purpose?
Kissinger: Yeah. Oh, God, and they said any hair color I wanted. But they did it—
Nixon: Jesus Christ! Oh!
Kissinger: —so revolting. You know—
Nixon: It takes all the fun out of it.