Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - August 21, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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The Cedar Rapids Gazette: Wed.. Aas;. 21, 1974 haSlow Changes Are Seen For Ford’s Cabinet
By Martha Annie
Woshlnoton Stor New*, Service
WASHINGTON - Donald Rumsfeld, coordinator of
President Ford’s transition advisory team, is the leading candidate to succeed Alexander Haig as White House chief of staff, it has been learned.
According to sources in-volved in the transition planning. Ford is “very, very grateful” to Haig for the delicate role he played in persuading Richard Nixon to resign as President and for Haig’s assistance rn keeping the executive branch afloat during the transition period.
The new President had no “ready chief of staff” when he took office, and will probably keep Haig in that post “for a considerable period of time," these sources said.
ritimately, however. Ford is expected to name his own chief of staff — and the President’s closest advisers arc recommending Rumsfeld OKO (Kief Rumsfeld is currently U.S. ambassador to NATO in Brussels. A former Illinois Republican congressman, he was a counselor to the President when he became ambassador to NATO at the start of Nixon’s second term Previously, he had served as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
He is now coordinating the efforts of a four-man team officially responsible for advising Ford on the transition.
One source said Haig had done “a tremendous job” during the last days of the Nixon administration at “walking the line between loyalty to the President and concern for the country.”
Haig has been widely credited with convincing Nixon he had no option remaining except to resign after release of tape recordings showing he had been deeply involved in the Watergate cover-up almost from the beginning.
Perhaps significantly, Rumsfeld joined Haig at a recent meeting with the President immediately following the daily meeting of senior White House staff aides at which Haig presides It was not immediately clear whether Rumsfeld had attended the staff session.
Staff Overhaul Ford is giving top priority to an o\erhaul of the White House staff structure and a review of the decision- making process within the executive branch.
Sources said there will be "significant changes in the cabinet” between now and the end of the year, although Ford will not immediately be “turning people out to pasture.” Secretary of State Kissinger is the only Nixon holdover viewed as “indispensable” by Ford, one source said, adding that "at least half" of the cabinet will he probably replaced in the months ahead
One top-level Nixon appointee likely to be eased out fairly fast is Roy Ash, director of the Office of Management and Budget, sources said Ford is believed anxious to have his own man in charge of OMI! as the agency prepares the new federal budget which the President will present to congress early next year As the transition process moved forward, new information surfaced about the early phases of the planning for the Ford administration Sources said the first transition steps were taken the day before Nixon announced his intention to resign Philip Kuchen, Ford’s former law partner and possibly his most intimate adviser, summoned a half dozen other close associates to a meeting at Kuchen s home.
Attending that first meeting. which lasted from 5 p.m. to midnight, were Bryce Harlow, a Procter and Gamble Co. executive who served as a White House counselor to both Nixon and President Eisenhower; Sen Griffin (R-Mieh.), assistant Republican leader of the senate and a long-time Ford friend, former Rep John Byrnes ;R-Wis.) another old friend; Clay Whitehead, director of the White House Office of Telecommunications under Nixon, and William Whyte, a U S Steel Corp executive and personal friend of Ford’s
"Official’’ Team These men were joined (lur Wig the course of the meeting by former Pennsylvania Gov Scranton — the only member of the group now serving on the "official" four man transition advisory team Griffin was assigned to contact Chief Justice Burger and
urge him to return from a European vacation to be available to administer the presidential oath of office to Ford
However, Burger — reached by an aide in Amsterdam — refused to head for Washington
until he received some official word (hat Nixon was resigning.
Meanwhile, Rumsfeld — who was in Paris in his role as ambassador to NATO — decided on his own initiative to fly back to Washington, sources said The Buchen group’s first
decision was to recommend that Ford immediately replace White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler with Detroit newsman Jerald terllorsf
The rest of the discussion.
according to one participant, focused largely on "the mechanics and details” of a transfer of power.
There was no disc ussion — then or later — of possible immunity from prosecution for Nixon, this source said.
Early last Thursday morning, Buchen and Byrnes wen! to Ford’s Alexandria. Va., home and relayed the advice of the small planning group Ford gave the go-head for selection of tcrllorst as press secretary, and the newsman
joined the* secret advisory group at a second meeting. The group helped develop the official transition team. which consists of Rumsfeld, Interior Secretary Morton, former Rep. John Marsh (D-Va ) and Scranton
Sources said Harlow and Byrnes, while still deeply in valved as unofficial transition advisers, probably will not accept positions in the* Ford administration Scranton, how ever, may well stay on in some official capacity.