Newly released tapes reveal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau called President Richard Nixon in May 1973 to express his "great confidence and respect" to the embattled U.S. president over "the Watergate thing."
Trudeau made the call to Nixon on May 11, less than two weeks after a growing scandal over a break-in at the Democratic National Committee's offices at the Watergate hotel spurred the resignations of Nixon's top White House staffers, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, and the firing of White House counsel John Dean.
"I wanted to phone you to tell you how distressed I was about all this noise that is going on around the Watergate thing," Trudeau begins after saying he had just returned from vacation.
"I'll tell you that, as far as I'm concerned, the people here, … and certainly myself, have great confidence and respect, and amongst politicians, we realize how, how, how initial actions can be seized upon and distorted," Trudeau continued.
A seemingly appreciative Nixon replied, "I'll tell ya, we'll survive it, Mr. Prime Minister," before adding, "but your call, I will always remember."
The exchange is contained in an audio recording of secret tapes Nixon had made during his time in the White House, and that ultimately helped in his downfall. It was among dozens of taped conversations released by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Wednesday.
The latest batch of 340 hours of audio recordings that were released Wednesday cover the period between April 9, 1973, to July 12, 1973. They cap the chronological release of 3,000 hours of tapes Nixon recorded between February 1971 and July 1973.
"This is a really big release in volume and importance, because of the time period it covers," said Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen, who has a website cataloging Nixon's secret recordings. "This is the end of taping and this is Watergate really beginning."
A further 700 hours of Nixon recordings are still classified or restricted. They have not been released because of national security and privacy concerns.
Transcript of Richard Nixon phone conversion with Pierre Trudeau
Secretary: Mr. President, Prime Minister Trudeau
Nixon: Yeah, hello?
Trudeau: Mr. President?
Nixon: How are you?
Trudeau: Very well. I just got back from vacation earlier this week, and I, I wanted to phone you to tell you how distressed I was about all this noise that is going on around the Watergate thing.. I..
Trudeau: I'll tell you, that, as far as I'm concerned, the people here with, ahh, that I know have - and certainly myself - have great confidence and respect, and amongst politicians, we realize how, how, how an issue like this can be seized upon and distorted, and, uh..
Nixon: Right, well, how kind of you to call. Let me say that it is a, it's a, it's a really a deplorable incidence, and then what it is, is like, as you know in campaigns, people.. your best friends, with the best of intentions, do things they shouldn't, and..
Nixon: ..and then you have to let 'em go, and it breaks your heart, but that's the way it happens.
Trudeau: Well, exactly, and you're quite right. The sad thing is, they do it with good intentions, and, uh..
Nixon: That's right, and this is all such a picayune-sish damn thing, but it was wrong.
Trudeau: Well, I..
Nixon: But I'll tell ya, we'll survive it, Mr. Prime Minister..
Trudeau: I'm sure you will. Mr. President.
Nixon:... but your call I will always remember.
Trudeau: Well, I , I certainly never forgot that you called me when I was..
Nixon: Ha, ha, ha, ha! Well... We pol- you know, we should have a union, we politicians have got to stick together.
Trudeau: Well, that's the way we gotta to do it, and I think we see things the right way.
Nixon: Well, I appreciate.. Incidentally, I wanted to tell you, Kissinger just left, he's going over to see [North Vietnamese politician] Le Duc Tho, it will be announced today in Paris next week, and as soon as he gets back, I'll have him be sure that you get a report, because I know your decision on this thing is imminent.
Trudeau: (unintelligible) .
Nixon: And, uh, that way, we'll, we'll have a better fix on whether.. how, how to let you know how the thing is coming. But we do appreciate what you've done, and I'll keep you totally posted on his visit, which will be next Thursday.
Trudeau: Certainly appreciate that. Thank you very much, Mr. President!
Nixon: How good of you to call.
Trudeau: (unintelligible) Bye.