Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Johnnie Walters on the Nixon Tapes and Related Materials (5/14/13; 5/26/13)

Johnnie Walters, former AAG Tax and then Commissioner of Internal Revenue, was in the mix during the turbulent years when Richard Nixon was abusing the powers of the office of President.  His background is at this site, here, for the dedication of his papers to the University of South Carolina.  Those of us who remember those times, remember that Johnnie was a good and decent man and disappointed President Nixon because he would not do his political bidding as Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

I just came across some transcripts on the Miller Center website.  The Miller Center, here, is transcribing and putting on the web presidential voice recordings.  Us old timers will remember that President Nixon secretly recorded a number of Oval Office meetings and telephone calls, which ultimately contributed to his downfall.  Among those transcribed are some referring to Johnnie Walters.  Here is a link to a search on that site for Johnnie Walters, which picks up the material related to Johnnie.

I cut and paste below one of the offerings from these materials; the web page is here.  The discussion appears to revolve around getting a more compliant Commissioner of Internal Revenue to replace Johnnie Walters who resisted the White House's political overtures:
President Nixon: The IRS thing is important but, God, we ought to be able to get some loyal son of a bitch. 
H.R. "Bob" Haldeman: I think we can. 
John Ehrlichman: We will, we will. 
President Nixon: There ought to be some guy that will do our bidding. That’s what we want, isn’t it? I don’t want that to drop between the stools. I don’t want another Johnnie Walters. We’ll get some—OK. [Unclear] a guy on your own staff. How about [Egil "Bud"] Krogh? Is he a tax lawyer?
Ehrlichman: No, that’s the sad part. 
President Nixon: He’s a hell of a property, a hell of a property. 
Ehrlichman: I’d kind of like to hang onto him. 
President Nixon: I know, but don’t—don’t do that. I understand, but if you’ve got a good man . . . 
Ehrlichman: Well, I’ve got a guy that would pass as a tax lawyer in the White House— 
President Nixon: But he’s not. 
Ehrlichman: —but really not with a sufficient stature— 
President Nixon: The tax business is a— 
Ehrlichman: It’s a closed corporation. 
President Nixon: How about the Dean of the Duke [University] Law School? Would he take it? Having in mind the fact that he— 
Ehrlichman: Joe— 
President Nixon: —having in mind the fact that he would go up to the Court maybe? 
Ehrlichman: Is tax his field? I guess it is, isn’t it? 
President Nixon: He won’t go to the Court this term though. I don’t that it is, but [unclear]— 
Ehrlichman: Probably. We’ve got to have a guy that is politically responsive. 
President Nixon: Yeah, I know. 
Ehrlichman: And, really, somebody like Lyn Nofziger is [chuckling] what we need.
President Nixon: I know, I know.
The Duke Law School Dean he is referring to is Joseph T. Sneed, III, see Wikipedia entry, here. Nixon was, of course, a Duke Law School graduate.  Sneed was a tax lawyer.  I am not sure that Sneed would have done the White House bidding either, but we'll never know.  We do know that he served a distinguished career on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after he ascended to that bench in 1973 (as the above conversation suggests was going to happen).

Addendum 5/26/13):

For similar content on AAG / Commissioner Walters:

David Dykes Former IRS chief recalls defying Nixon (USA Today 5/26/13), here.

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