Nixon Sought IRS as Weapon

January 6, 1997

Nixon Sought IRS as Weapon

In May 1971, there was one appointment for which President Richard Nixon had very clear aims--his IRS commissioner was to be ruthless and obedient.

In the Washington Post, Oval Office tapes recently released by the National Archives and Records Administration quote Nixon telling top aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman that "I want to be sure he is a ruthless son of a bitch, that he will do what he's told, that every income tax return I want to see I see, that he will go after our enemies and not go after our friends."

Nixon was angry about IRS investigations of Republicans during the Kennedy administration, including an audit of Nixon's own returns in 1963, according to the newspaper. "Now they're not going to do it to us here," Nixon said on the tape. He also said, "When the Christ are they going to go after some Democrats?"

Eventually, Johnnie Walters was named to the position.

In an interview with the Washington Post this week, Walters said he did not know of Nixon's expectations until he was on the job. On Sept. 11, 1972, Nixon aide John Dean III handed Walters a list of hundreds of people to be audited, such as staff members and contributors to the McGovern campaign.

Walters refused and put the list in a safe where he kept it until he turned it over to congressional investigators the following year.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.