Newly released tapes show two future US presidents called Richard Nixon in support after he gave a speech on the Watergate scandal amid a staff exodus.
Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush attempted to boost Richard Nixon as he denied any knowledge of the infamous break-in at his political rivals’ offices.
The calls are among the final installment of recordings to be released from the Republican’s administration.
Richard Nixon, who quit in 1974, remains the only US president to have resigned.
His second term was engulfed by scandal after burglars tied to his re-election committee in 1972 broke into the Democratic party’s headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington DC, in an attempt to dig up dirt on his political adversaries.
The recordings are the last of a total of 3,000 hours of tape released by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Another 700 hours remain restricted by national security and privacy concerns, but the archive says they will now be reviewed in order to see what can be released.
The tapes cover the time period between 9 April and 12 July 1973, the day before the existence of Nixon’s secret recording system in his offices was made public to a Senate panel probing the Watergate scandal.
The tapes implicated him in a cover-up about the break-in.
The calls from the future presidents came on April 30, after Richard Nixon had made a public address about the growing scandal.
Earlier that day, three senior White House officials had resigned over the affair and another was sacked.
Ronald Reagan, who was governor of California at the time, told Richard Nixon the Watergate speech had been the right one to make
Ronald Reagan, who was governor of California at the time, told Richard Nixon the Watergate speech had been the right one to make.
“You can count on us,” he said.
“We’re still behind you out here and I wanted you to know that you’re in our prayers.”
George Bush called the same evening. The newly appointed chairman of the Republican National Committee said he had watched the speech with “great pride”.
Richard Nixon complained to George Bush about the reaction from broadcasters.
“The folks may understand,” Richard Nixon said, adding: “To hell with the commentators.”
The tapes also show Richard Nixon press secretary Ron Zeigler briefing the 37th president about the possibility of further serious revelations by the Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.
Despite the crisis engulfing him, Richard Nixon remained actively engaged in global diplomacy.
At one point – in discussions with an aide – Richard Nixon can be heard describing the Chinese as “the ablest people in the world”.
The president can also be heard holding a lengthy Oval Office conversation with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev before a June 1973 summit.
Richard Nixon expresses a close interest in ties with China – a relationship he describes as the “key to world peace”.
In the hour-long one-on-one, assisted by an interpreter, the two leaders chatted about personal topics, including their families.
“We must recognize…. while we will naturally in negotiations have some differences, it is essential that those two nations, where possible, work together,” Richard Nixon said to Leonid Brezhnev.
“If we decide to work together, we can change the world,” he said.
“That’s my attitude as we enter these talks.”
Previous releases show the president as a paranoid man who was obsessed with the Kennedy family.
Richard Nixon considered Senator Ted Kennedy such a political threat that he ordered surveillance in the hope of catching him in an affair.
Since 1972, the public attention on Watergate scandal has been centered on all the president’s men, but the story is not without its fair share of female characters.
Four women each played a significant role in unraveling the scandal that would ultimately cost Richard Nixon the presidency.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would pen the series of articles that would expose the White House’s involvement in a cover-up of The Watergate Hotel burglary 40 years ago, with their help.
One of them was Judy Hoback, was working as a bookkeeper for the committee to re-elect President Nixon in 1972 when she was contacted by Carl Bernstein.
Judy Hoback told the BBC: “[Woodward and Bernstein] were pushy young men. I was really scared and they played on that.”
Now known as Judy Miller, she was the only employee from the CRP who willingly spoke with the Washington Post.
One of the women involved in Watergate scandal was Judy Hoback, who was working as a bookkeeper for the committee to re-elect President Nixon in 1972 when she was contacted by Carl Bernstein
In a recent discussion with Carl Bernstein at the Watergate Hotel, Bob Woodward said Judy Hoback did more for them than Deep Throat himself, spurned CIA man Mark Felt, according to Politico.
Bob Woodward said: “There were stages when [Mark Felt] really helped us, but the real turning point in the coverage of Watergate was when Carl found the bookkeeper.
“[Hoback] had the details of the money and who controlled it and who got the money. You look at All the President’s Men, I really think the book-keeper is the key source.”
Debbie Sloan, the wife of CRP treasurer Hugh Sloan who was pregnant at the time, also did her part to aid in the Post investigation, when she allowed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into their home.
It was the couple’s honesty that helped confirm key details for the reporters, including details about key Republican officials involved in illegal shenanigans.
Debbie Sloan told the BBC: “We never thought six months ahead. We just thought <<this is what we have to do today>> because we have to live with ourselves and teach our children our values.”
She added: “Neither one of us ever considered lying about it. Ever.”
Marilyn Berger, a fellow Washington Post reporter, became part of the story when she alerted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that Ken Clawson, a member of the Nixon administration’s communications team, wrote the Canuck Letter, a forged letter to the editor of the Manchester Union Leader that alleged presidential contender Edmund Muskie was prejudiced against those of French Canadian descent.
The letter led Edmund Muskie, who was seen as the top threat to Richard Nixon’s re-election, to withdraw from the race.
The exposure of Ken Clawson as the Canuck Letter’s writer revealed a disturbing “dirty tricks” campaign by the Nixon camp.
The larger-than-life personality of Martha Mitchell, the Nixon campaign worker and wife of Attorney General John Mitchell made her the most flamboyant of the female Watergate figures.
In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein referred to Martha Mitchell as a “bizarre aspect of the Watergate affair” and “something of a truth-teller in Washington”.
In a 1974 interview with British journalist David Frost, Martha Mitchell said: “I was brainwashed. I was told this is what goes on in campaigns.”
Martha Mitchell died two years later, in 1976.
Charles Colson, President Richard Nixon’s aide who was involved in the Watergate scandal and later became an evangelical preacher, has died aged 80.
Charles Colson was known as the “hatchet man” for Richard Nixon and served seven months in jail for his role in discrediting a political opponent.
Later, Charles Colson started a prison ministry and campaigned for penal reform.
Charles Colson, a father-of-three, died in hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, of complications from a brain haemorrhage.
Charles “Chuck” Colson had a reputation as a hard-nosed political operator and was once described by President Richard Nixon as the son he never had.
He helped the Republican candidate to a landslide victory in 1972, saying he would “walk over his own grandmother” to ensure Richard Nixon’s re-election.
Charles Colson, President Richard Nixon’s aide who was involved in the Watergate scandal and later became an evangelical preacher, has died aged 80
In 1971, Charles Colson wrote a now infamous “enemies list” naming his boss’s major political critics and opponents.
His role in the Watergate scandal was limited, but he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice after he was involved in earlier efforts to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked secret government documents about the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.
A break-in was organized at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in a search for documents which could be used to blacken his reputation.
President Richard Nixon’s right-hand man served seven months in jail, although he was not convicted of organizing the Ellsberg or Watergate break-ins themselves.
Charles Colson came out of prison claiming to be a new man, renouncing the political machinations of his past and embracing his religious faith.
He spent the next 35 years as a leading campaigner for prison reform, founding the Prison Fellowship Ministries in 1976.
Charles Colson was named as one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005, having written over 200 books in his lifetime.
Later in life Charles Colson lived in Naples, Florida, and in 2000 the state Governor Jeb Bush restored his civil rights, including the right to vote, which he lost after he was convicted.