Letter to United States District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell About Refusal To Produce Recordings of Presidential Conversations
Dear Judge Gesell:
I have been advised by Special Counsel to the President of the order issued by you on January 25, 1974, in which you solicited my personal response with reference to five specified taped conversations.
As indicated in the various briefs, pleadings and other papers filed in this proceeding, it is my belief that the issue before this Court constitutes a non-justiciable political question.
Nevertheless, out of respect for this Court, but without in any way departing from my view that the issues presented here are inappropriate for resolution by the Judicial Branch, I have made a determination that the entirety of the five recordings of Presidential conversations described on the subpoena issued by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities contains privileged communications, the disclosure of which would not be in the national interest.
I am taking this position for two primary reasons. First, the Senate Select Committee has made known its intention to make these materials public. Unlike the secret use of four out of five of these conversations before the grand jury, the publication of all of these tapes to the world at large would seriously infringe upon the principle of confidentiality, which is vital to the performance of my Constitutional responsibilities as President.
Second, it is incumbent upon me to be sensitive to the possible adverse effects upon ongoing and forthcoming criminal proceedings should the contents of these subpoenaed conversations be made public at an inappropriate time. The dangers connected with excessive pre-trial publicity are as well-known to this Court as they are to me. Consequently, my Constitutional mandate to see that the laws are faithfully executed requires my prohibiting the disclosure of any of these materials at this time and in this forum.
[The Honorable Gerhard A. Gesell, Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.]
Note: For related court documents, see the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 10, pp. 43 and 505).
Richard Nixon, Letter to United States District Court Judge Gerhard A. Gesell About Refusal To Produce Recordings of Presidential Conversations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/256283