Nightly News   |  August 21, 2013

Nixon’s tough-talk revealed in newly released tapes

Newly released tapes from Richard Nixon’s time in the White House give a new look at a president under growing pressure to leave the White House. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> more of richard nixon 's secrets are being revealed tonight. you're about to hear what he said in the oval office in a very troubled state of mind during some of the darkest days of watergate, part of a new trove of tapes released today. and i'll just tell you straight up, some of the language is a bit coarse. nbc's pete williams has more on the newly released nixon tapes , including a phone call from a supporter who would one day himself become president.

>> reporter: in the spring of 1973 , richard nixon is a president under siege facing daily revelations about his administration's role in the watergate scandal .

>> this office is a sacred trust.

>> reporter: after the speech and apparently after a few drinks, nixon talked with his friend haldeman by phone, expletives undeleted.

>> reporter: kra's governor ronald reagan phones in to offer support.

>> we're still behind you out here and i wanted you to know that you're in our prayers.

>> each of us has a different religion, you know.

>> yeah.

>> but goddamnit, ron, we have got to build peace in the world. how'd you ever marry such a pretty girl . my god.

>> well, just -- i'm lucky.

>> you're lucky? that's right. as i was lucky.

>> reporter: a few days earlier nixon tells his spokesman ron ziegler that he had no role in the scandal.

>> let me say we can have confidence that the president was not involved.

>> you know that.

>> yes, i do. i absolutely do.

>> reporter: in mid-may, the pressure builds as a senate committee begins watergate hearings . in the oval office , the president mocks the accents of committee southerners.

>> now, what does this mean, mr. haldeman? what's this mean? screw it!

>> nixon is caught in the web he created, and half of him knows that he broke the law, abused his power, and the other half of him is the defense lawyer trying to deny it.

>> reporter: but the tapes also capture the richard nixon who built the bridge to china.

>> we've got to get along with them. or it's no problem for the next five years or the next 20 year, but it's the critical problem for our age.

>> reporter: the tapes end july 12th , when the system is publicly revealed. richard nixon hangs on 13 months more. pete williams , nbc news, washington.