Tapes: Nixon Sought Brookings Break-In

by Joan Biskupic, Washington Post, Nov. 22, 1996

President Nixon ordered a break-in and theft at the Brookings Institution in June 1971 so he could learn what information the public policy center had collected on the Vietnam war, according to newly released White House tapes.

In a conversation that took place a year before the Watergate break-in that eventually drove him from office, Nixon told Chief of Staff H.R.Hadelman to "break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them out....I want a break-in. I want the Brookings safe cleaned out. And have it cleaned out in a way that makes somebody else look bad.''

At one point, with characteristic gruffness and punctuating each word, Nixon said, "You go in to inspect...and clean it out....I want Brookings, just break in, break in, and take it out. You understand."

Hadelman's responded by saying: "I don't have any problem with breaking in."

The Senate Watergate Committee report detailed the White House's concern that Brookings was planning a study based on Vietnam papers similar to those that had been leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post. The Panel took testimony that Nixon aide Charles W. Colson planned to firebomb the building and steal the documents, an allegation Colson denied.