President Nixon Press Conference – September 5, 1973
A Nixon Press Conference – after not giving one for five months, there were suddenly two, almost back-to-back. Naturally, the prevailing topic was Watergate.
Question: Q. Mr. President, you met with the Vice President for 2 hours on Saturday. One, can you tell us what you talked about? Two, will you have any part in any future legal moves against the Vice President? And three, did you call John Connally afterwards, as reported?
PRESIDENT NIXON. Let us start, Miss Thomas, with the third part of the question. It is easier to remember the end of the question than the first.
As far as the third question, no, I have not talked to Governor Connally as reported, and I have not talked to him for the past several weeks. Nothing should be made of that one way or another, because I enjoy talking to the Governor, and it is very possible I may be talking to him in the future about energy or about a trip that he is going to be making abroad to various parts of the world, including the Mideast and possibly to the Soviet Union.
Second. with regard to the Vice President, we did meet for 2 hours. It, of course. is not appropriate for me to discuss what the subject was. We went over a number of matters of mutual interest in which he has major responsibilities.
I will say, finally, that with regard to the Vice President and all other questions that may relate to him, when I last met with you ladies and gentlemen in the sun in California–as distinguished from the sun in the East Room–I recall very well that there were several questions about the Vice President, what would happen in the event that this happened or that, in the event that he were indicted, et cetera.
Let me say that I tried to respond to those questions then. I expressed my confidence in the Vice President’s integrity during the period that he has served as Vice President and during which I have known him, but I declined to comment on those questions which were purely hypothetical and which would be a grave infringement upon the rights of the Vice President–to comment upon what would happen if certain things were to occur in the course of an investigation that is presently going on, I understand, in Baltimore in a grand jury.
I will simply say this: As far as such questions are concerned, you are welcome to ask them, but I will not dignify any such questions with regard to charges that have been made by innuendo and otherwise against the Vice President. I will not dignify them with an answer; it would be an infringement on his rights.
Question: Mr. President, there have been some conflicting reports about your real estate dealings in California, and I would like to ask about that. Several different versions have been released by the White House, both as to your own personal financial involvement and as to the Government’s expenditures in San Clemente and at Key Biscayne, and your auditors, I understand from news reports, say that the entire audit has not been released on your financial dealings out there.
I would like to ask you why we have had so many conflicting reports to start with, and second, one of the questions that is raised by the only partial release of the audit is, have you paid the taxes on the gain realized in the sale of the land to Rebozo and Abplanalp at San Clemente?
PRESIDENT NIXON. Any other questions you want to go into?
Of course, whatever a President does in the field of his property is public knowledge, and questions of that sort I do not resent at all. I do resent, I might say, the implications, however, first, that whether at Key Biscayne or in San Clemente my private property was enriched because of what the Government did.
As a matter of fact, what the Government did at San Clemente reduced the value of the property. If you see three Secret Service gazebos and if you see some of the other fences that block out the rather beautiful view to the hills and the mountains that I like, you would realize that what I say is quite true; it reduces its value as far as a residential property is concerned.
The second point is this: At rather considerable expense, and a great deal of time on my part, I ordered an audit, an audit by a firm highly respected, Coopers & Lybrand of New York. That audit has been completed.3 It covered at my request not simply the last year, but it covered the years 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.
3On August 27, 1973, the White House released an announcement of the Coopers & Lybrand audit of the transactions in connection with the President’s properties in California and Florida. The announcement and the text of a letter to the President and Mrs. Nixon from Coopers & Lybrand detailing the results of the audit are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 9, P. 1036).
The audit has been completed, and the audit gave the lie to the reports that were carried, usually in eight-column heads in most of the papers of this country–and, incidentally, the retractions ended back up with the corset ads for the most part-but on the other hand, it gave the lie to the charge that there was $ I million worth. of campaign funds, that that is how I acquired the property in San Clemente.
It also gave the lie to any other charges that as far as my acquisitions in Florida are concerned, or in California, that there was any money there except my own.
Now, I would make two or three other points briefly about it that I think all laymen could understand. I borrowed the money to acquire the property, and I still owe it. I own no stocks and no bonds–I think I am the first President in this office since Harry Truman–I don’t own a stock or a bond. I sold everything before I came into office.
All that I have are the two pieces of property in Florida which adjoin each other, the piece of property in San Clemente with which you are familiar, and a house on Whittier Boulevard in which my mother once lived. I have no other property, and I owe money on all of them.
Third, as far as the capital gain matter, which is a technical matter that you have mentioned, I should point out–and maybe this is good news for people who wonder if Presidents are exempt from what the IRS does–the IRS has had a full field review or audit of my income tax returns for 1971 and 1972 and included in its audit the transaction which you refer to, in which some argue there was a capital gain and some argue that there was not. It is a matter of difference between accountants.
The IRS, after its audit, did not order any change. If it had, I would have paid the tax. It did not order a change.
Now, with regard to the audit itself is concerned, the results of that audit insofar as the acquisition of the property have been put out. That is all that is going to be put out, because I think that is a full disclosure.
I would simply say, finally, that in this particular case I realize that naturally there is a suspicion that a President, because he has the great power of this office and because he has the benefit of Secret Service, GSA, and all the rest to protect him, that he some way or other is going to profit from all of that security that is provided for him.
As I pointed out in my press conference 2 weeks ago, I’d far less rather have the security than have my privacy, but that just can’t be done.
Here is that complete Nixon Press Conference, as it was given, live on Radio and TV – September 5, 1973.