NIXON, Richard M. (1913-1994), President. Autograph letter signed ("RN" in a circular paraph) as former President to Col. John V. Brennan, Woodcliff Lake, N.J., 16 November 1988. 1 page, 4to, personal stationery. [With:] Printed program for the funeral service for John N. Mitchell, St. Albans Church, Washington, D.C., 12 November 1988. 3pp. 8vo.
A BITTER NIXON ADDS FORMER CABINET MEMBERS ROGERS, LAIRD, SCHLESINGER, WEINBERGER, RUMSFELD, SCHULTZ AND KISSINGER TO "MY--YOU KNOW WHAT--LIST"
In a very rare autograph letter to his former White House military attaché, Nixon rails at the conspicuous absence of many former members of his cabinet from the funeral of his disgraced Attorney General and campaign manager, John N. Mitchell (1913-1988): "You did an absolutely superb job on John's funeral. Dick Moore's eulogy was deeply moving & from all reports the ceremony at Arlington [National Cemetary] was spectacular. John finally got the recognition he deserved. The only sour note was the absence of our Cabinet members. Where the hell were Rogers, Laird, Schlesinger, Weinberger, Rumsfeld, Schulz [sic], & Kissinger. Scowcroft called me & said he would have come but was in California that weekend. They are all now on my--you know what--list."
Mitchell, the only U.S. Attorney General to serve time in prison, was a bitter-end Nixon loyalist and paid dearly for it, serving 19 months in federal prison and suffering disbarment. He was convicted of authorizing the break-in at the Democratic National headquarters in June 1972 and for controlling a secret "slush" fund used for dirty tricks and paying off Watergate defendants.
The evident unwillingness of former top officials to pay their last respects to Mitchell was an unpleasant reminder to Nixon of his own pariah status. Most of those whose absence he notes were either current or future Cabinet members in other GOP administrations: George P. Schultz was then serving as Reagan's Secretary of State, while Casper Weinberger had recently resigned as Defense Secretary; Brent Scowcroft would soon take the post of National Security chief in the first Bush administration, while Donald Rumsfeld would pilot the Pentagon in the second. William Rogers (State) and Melvin Laird (Defense) returned to lucrative private sector careers, and James Schlesinger remained as defense policy advisor to both Republican and Democratic presidents. Brennan, a Marine, after serving Nixon as military attaché, had resigned and continued to serve Nixon in San Clemente.