Counsel to the President
Office of Counsel to the President


Material on advice given to the President, First Family, and White House staff on legal matters, foreign and domestic issues, conflicts of interest, presidential powers, personal matters and campaign law. Major topics include: clemency program for draft evaders, presidential pardons (especially Richard Nixon), judicial appointments (including John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court), 1976 presidential campaign (especially the role of the Federal Election Commission), handling of the Nixon papers, 1974 transition to the Presidency, intelligence community reforms, and administration of the Counsel's Office.

47.6 linear feet (ca. 95,200 pages)

Gerald R. Ford (accession number 77-5, 77-107, 77-123, 78-9, 78-58, 78-66, and 87-4)

Open, with the exception of the unprocessed intelligence materials. Some items are temporarily restricted under terms of the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, or under National Archives and Records Administration general restrictions (36 CFR 1256). Intelligence community materials are currently unavailable for research.

President Ford has donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by William H. McNitt, December 1988; revised January 1996
[s:\bin\findaid\buchen, philip - files.doc]


Philip William Buchen

Feb. 27, 1916 - Born, Sheboygan, WI

1939 - A.B., University of Michigan

1941 - J.D., University of Michigan

1941-42 - Partner, law firm of Ford and Buchen, Grand Rapids, MI

1943-47 - Partner, law firm of Butterfield, Keeney & Amberg, Grand Rapids

1948-61 - Partner, law firm of Amberg, Law & Buchen, Grand Rapids

1961-67 - Vice President, Grand Valley State College, Allendale, MI

1962-74 and 1977-- Director, Old Kent Financial Corporation, Grand Rapids

1963-74 - Director, Rospatch Corporation, Grand Rapids

1967-74 - Partner, law firm of Buchen, Weathers, Richardson & Dutcher, Grand Rapids

1969-74 - Director, Communications Satellite Corporation, Washington, DC

1969-72 - Member, U.S. delegation to the INTELSAT Conference which negotiated a definitive arrangement for the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization.

Mar.-Aug. 1974 - Executive Director, Domestic Council Committee on the Right of Privacy

1974-77 - Counsel to the President, White House

1977-? - Partner, law firm of Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, Washington, DC

May 21, 2001 - Died of pneumonia, Washington, DC


When Gerald Ford succeeded to the Presidency on August 9, 1974, one of his first acts was to appoint his long-time friend and former law partner Philip Buchen as chief White House legal advisor and give the position Cabinet status. During his administration, Ford relied upon Buchen for advice on a wide range of issues, legislation, and actions. Like Counsellors to the President John Marsh and Robert Hartmann, Buchen handled a variety of assignments not always covered by his specific job description. The extensive files accumulated by Buchen during his service in the Ford White House reflect his legal work, his role as an advisor to the President, and the administration of the Counsel's Office.

The Role of the Counsel's Office
As Counsel to the President, Buchen supervised a staff of attorneys in handling legal matters of particular concern to the President and the White House staff. Buchen and his staff provided a focal point in the White House to raise legal issues, transmit questions to departmental lawyers, evaluate the responses, resolve differences of opinion, and frame answers in the appropriate format for consideration by the President, while the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, and legal counsels in the various departments and agencies provided legal research and advice on proposals or policy issues.

In addition, the Counsel's Office gave advice directly on legal questions involving the official actions of the President and his staff. For example, they represented the President or his staff in court cases filed as a result of White House decisions or actions and advised on real or potential conflicts of interest. As the President's lawyers, they were even asked to advise on many matters involving his personal affairs.

Specific functions of the office also included: White House liaison with regulatory agencies, security and conflict of interest clearances for all White House staff and presidential appointees in departments and agencies, and representing the White House on legal matters involving former President Nixon.

Scope and Content of the Buchen Files
Buchen advised the President on a wide range of matters and his files touch upon a number of topics not strictly legal in nature. The collection is strongest, however, on topics involving major legal questions such as amnesty, pardons, appointment of federal judges, court litigation, reform of the intelligence community, actual or potential conflicts of interest involving administration personnel or potential appointees, and compliance with federal laws and regulations by the President, his family, and his staff in personal matters and campaign activities.

The Buchen Files contain material on several presidential pardons proposed or granted, but the bulk concerns either the Nixon pardon or the amnesty program for Vietnam War draft evaders. Scattered documents, such as letters from White House staff member Leonard Garment and Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, pre-date the Nixon pardon. Most of the material on the pardon, however, concerns attempts to defend Ford's decision in subsequent press conferences and the hearings of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice (also known as the Hungate Subcommittee). Included is correspondence with Congressman William Hungate and other members of the subcommittee, transcripts, background information, and briefing materials.

Materials on the amnesty program for draft evaders concern the establishment of the Presidential Clemency Board, extension of the application deadline, operation of the program, and the Board's final report. Included are memoranda and reports from both Board Chairman Charles Goodell and Board members who disagreed with Goodell's handling of the program.

White House personnel matters and presidential appointments to positions, including the selection of federal judges, are documented. Materials on judicial appointments include Presidential Personnel Office memoranda, Justice Department recommendations, and letters received from the state or region in which the judge was to serve. Approximately 350 pages concerns the retirement of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and the subsequent appointment of John Paul Stevens.

Other personnel materials concern both allegations of conflict of interest or other wrong-doing by administration personnel and the standard background checks and financial interest reports completed by all potential presidential appointees.

The Buchen collection contains more than 3,000 pages of material on the handling of the papers of former President Richard Nixon. These range from memoranda concerning the legislation under which the government seized the collection and the resulting court battles to relatively routine documents concerning access by archivists and access requests from journalists, lawyers, and members of Congress.

Much of Buchen's material on the 1976 presidential campaign relates to efforts to comply with provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Acts of 1974 and 1976 and White House interactions with the Federal Election Commission over proposed rulings and regulations based on those laws. The Commission investigated such questions as the use of White House staff members for campaign activities and the proper allocations of presidential trip expenses.

Other campaign-related files concern forms used in screening potential vice presidential candidates, a campaign legal manual, and allegations concerning President Ford's congressional campaign finances and his alleged 1972 role in stopping an investigation of the Watergate break-in by the House Banking and Currency Committee, chaired by Congressman Wright Patman.

The Buchen Files should prove useful to anyone interested in the Ford Justice Department, because most files on legal questions include some input from the Attorney General or his aides. In addition, the collection concerns Buchen's contacts with other agencies over such matters as Civil Aeronautics Board and International Trade Commission decisions, the Bicentennial celebration, administration personnel matters, executive agreements with foreign leaders, and notifications required under the War Powers Resolution.

Although the Buchen Files contain a significant quantity of materials on personal matters involving the President and his family, the quantity on any one topic tends to be small. Topics range from First Family finances or the use of Camp David to approval of the band contract for Susan Ford's senior prom at the White House.

Buchen played an important role in the White House handling of the congressional investigations of alleged intelligence community abuses and reforms issued by the administration. Other intelligence matters documented in the collection include electronic surveillance law suits and legislation and the organization and operation of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Intelligence Oversight Board, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and the National Security Agency. Buchen's files concerning these matters are currently unprocessed and remain closed to research.

Related Materials (January 1996)
A closely related collection is the Files of Edward Schmults, Deputy Counsel to the President, which also include material from Counsel's Office predecessors Philip Areeda and Roderick Hills. The files of several other staff members of the Counsel's Office are also available for research.

White House Central Files Subject File JL (Judicial-Legal Matters) contains related material on such topics as amnesty for draft evaders, the Nixon pardon and other pardons, crime, the two assassination attempts, judicial decisions, and legal opinions issued by government officials. Materials on the Nixon papers, White House personnel matters, transition matters, and presidential appointments to positions appear in Central Files FG (Federal Government Organizations).

Collections containing material on the 1976 presidential campaign are described in "The 1976 Presidential Election: A Guide to Manuscript Collections Available for Research" which is available upon request.

Open collections relating to the intelligence investigations/reforms include White House Central Files Subject File categories ND 6 (Intelligence) and FG 393 (Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States); the Richard Cheney Files; the James Connor Files; the Ron Nessen Files and Papers; and the files of various staff members in the Congressional Relations Office, especially the Vernon Loen/Charles Leppert collection. Although the bulk of the files of the Rockefeller Commission are not processed, the Library has opened folders relating to the investigation of possible CIA involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or in the anti-Castro plots of the early 1960s.

In addition, the Library holds unprocessed collections of Mason Cargill/Timothy Hardy Files and James Wilderotter Files, and unprocessed series on intelligence matters from the files of John Marsh and Michael Raoul-Duval. These collections/series are not currently available for research.


General Subject File, 1974‑77.  (Boxes 1-68, 27.2 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, White House staff, and officials in the departments and agencies; reports; congressional bills; court motions and orders; executive orders; proclamations; testimony; messages; correspondence; and clippings. The materials concern his work in advising and assisting the President, including such topics as: amnesty, court cases, legislation, 1976 campaign, Federal Election Commission, judicial appointments (including the nomination of John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court), 1974 transition, White House liaison with the Justice Department, Nixon Papers, Nixon Pardon, administration personnel matters (especially standards of conduct and conflict of interest), privacy, evacuation from South Vietnam, and War Powers Resolution.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

View container list for this series

Congressional Correspondence File, 1974‑77.  (Boxes 69-73, 2.0 linear feet)
Correspondence exchanged with members of Congress concerning such topics as: legislation, executive orders, pardons, personnel matters, court cases, executive- legislative relations, and the Nixon papers.

Arranged alphabetically.

View container list for this series

General Correspondence File, 1974-77  (Boxes 74-98, 9.6 linear feet)
Correspondence with government officials, attorneys, businessmen, friends, and the general public concerning a wide variety of legal and judicial matters, personnel appointments, and legislation.

Arranged alphabetically.

View container list for this series

Counsel's Office Administrative File, 1974‑77.  (Boxes 99-101, 1.6 linear feet)
Correspondence, resumes, and memoranda concerning applicants for positions, personnel matters, and the operation of the office.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

View container list for this series

H.P. Goldfield File, 1974-76.  (Boxes 102-104, 1.2 linear feet)
Routine correspondence and clippings exchanged with the public concerning requests for assistance plus a small quantity of memoranda and reports concerning such topics as clemency, pardons, and privacy.

Arranged alphabetically by either name of correspondent (for correspondence) or topic (for memoranda and reports).

View container list for this series

Intelligence Investigations/Reorganization Numbered File, 1974-76.  (Boxes 105-111, 2.7 linear feet)
Memoranda, correspondence, reports, briefing papers, press releases, and clippings. The series basically covers the period from CIA Director William Colby's report to the President in December 1974 through the issuance of President Ford's executive order in February 1976. Many materials concern the investigation of alleged intelligence community abuses by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States (Rockefeller Commission) and the House and Senate select committees. Others concern the administration's attempts to study the problems raised by the investigations and to formulate plans to reorganize the intelligence community. Very little concerns other aspects of intelligence.

Arranged according to a special filing system wherein file numbers were assigned to documents to reflect the originating agency and/or subject matter. Folder titles tend to be broad and non-specific. Photocopies of many documents appear in multiple file locations. The James Wilderotter Files make use of the same special filing system.


Intelligence Subject File, 1974-76.  (Boxes 111-119, 3.3 linear feet)
Memoranda, correspondence, reports, legislation, legal motions, briefing papers, press releases, and clippings. Although some material relates directly to the intelligence investigations and reorganization, the bulk of the series consists of materials from after February 1976 or files from the earlier time period that relate to other intelligence matters. Significant topics include: electronic surveillance (especially the AT&T case, the Morton Halperin case, and proposed legislation); the reports of the congressional select committees (including the investigation of the leak of the House report); and the activities and operation of the Intelligence Oversight Board, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and the National Security Agency.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.



Box 1 - General Subject File

Box 2 - General Subject File

Box 3 - General Subject File

Box 4 - General Subject File

Box 5 - General Subject File

Box 6 - General Subject File

Box 7 - General Subject File

Box 8 - General Subject File

Box 9 - General Subject File

Box 10 - General Subject File

Box 11 - General Subject File

Box 12 - General Subject File

Box 13 - General Subject File

Box 14 - General Subject File

Box 15 - General Subject File

Box 16 - General Subject File

Box 17 - General Subject File

Box 18 - General Subject File

Box 19 - General Subject File

Box 20 - General Subject File

Box 21 - General Subject File

Box 22 - General Subject File

Box 23 - General Subject File

Box 24 - General Subject File

Box 25 - General Subject File

Box 26 - General Subject File

Box 27 - General Subject File

Box 28 - General Subject File

Box 29 - General Subject File

Box 30 - General Subject File

Box 31 - General Subject File

Box 32 - General Subject File

Box 33 - General Subject File

Box 34 - General Subject File

Box 35 - General Subject File

Box 36 - General Subject File

Box 37 - General Subject File

Box 38 - General Subject File

Box 39 - General Subject File

Box 40 - General Subject File

Box 41 - General Subject File

Box 42 - General Subject File

Box 43 - General Subject File

Box 44 - General Subject File

Box 45 - General Subject File

Box 46 - General Subject File

Box 47 - General Subject File

Box 48 - General Subject File

Box 49 - General Subject File

Box 50 - General Subject File

Box 51 - General Subject File

Box 52 - General Subject File

Box 53 - General Subject File

Box 54 - General Subject File

Box 55 - General Subject File

Box 56 - General Subject File

Box 57 - General Subject File

  • Privacy
    - Roundtable on Privacy and Information Policy
    - Vice President's Memo, 12/11/75
  • Protection
    - Demonstrations
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (1)
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (2)
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (3)
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (4)
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (5)
    - Foreign Officials and Dignitaries (6)
    - Presidential Candidates (1)
    - Presidential Candidates (2)
    - Procurement of Property for the Protection of the President
    - Responsibilities of the Secret Service and EPS (1)

Box 58 - General Subject File

Box 59 - General Subject File

Box 60 - General Subject File

Box 61 - General Subject File

Box 62 - General Subject File

Box 63 - General Subject File

Box 64 - General Subject File

  • Vice Presidential Selection - 1976: Forms Sent to Potential Candidates (1)
  • Vice Presidential Selection - 1976: Forms Sent to Potential Candidates (2)
  • Vice Presidential Selection - 1976: General
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Cambodia
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Danang and Other Seaports
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Legal (1)
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Legal (2)
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Legal (3)
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Saigon (1)
  • Vietnam - Evacuation: Saigon (2)
  • Vietnam - General
  • Vietnam - Presidential Speech, 4/10/75
  • Vietnam - Secret Understandings

Box 65 - General Subject File

Box 66 - General Subject File

Box 67 - General Subject File

Box 68 - General Subject File

Box 69 - Congressional Correspondence File

  • A-Cn

Box 70 - Congressional Correspondence File

  • Co-Hh

Box 71 - Congressional Correspondence File

  • Hi-Mz and Morgan

Box 72 - Congressional Correspondence File

  • Moss and N-Sh

Box 73 - Congressional Correspondence File

  • Si-Z

Box 74 - General Correspondence File

  • A - Bec

Box 75 - General Correspondence File

  • Bed - Brt

Box 76 - General Correspondence File

  • Bru - Cheq

Box 77 - General Correspondence File

  • Cher - Cn

Box 78 - General Correspondence File

  • Co - Dh

Box 79 - General Correspondence File

  • Di - Fem

Box 80 - General Correspondence File

  • Fem - Gk

Box 81 - General Correspondence File

  • Fem - Gk

Box 82 - General Correspondence File

  • Har - Houk

Box 83 - General Correspondence File

  • How - Jom

Box 84 - General Correspondence File

  • Jon - Kis

Box 85 - General Correspondence File

  • Kit - Lev

Box 86 - General Correspondence File

  • Lew - Mar

Box 87 - General Correspondence File

  • Mas - Mic

Box 88 - General Correspondence File

  • Mid - Nh

Box 89 - General Correspondence File

  • Ni - Pn

Box 90 - General Correspondence File

  • Po - Rob

Box 91 - General Correspondence File

  • Roc - Sel

Box 92 - General Correspondence File

  • Sem - Stae

Box 93 - General Correspondence File

  • Staf - Sz

Box 94 - General Correspondence File

  • T - VanderL

Box 95 - General Correspondence File

  • VanderM - Washburn, Abbot (3)

Box 96 - General Correspondence File

  • Washburn, Abbot (4) - Wim

Box 97 - General Correspondence File

  • Win - Z

Box 98 - General Correspondence File

  • Applicants for Positions A - M

Box 99 - Counsel's Office Administrative File

  • Applicants for Positions N - Z
  • Consultants - Gerald Morgan and Edward McCabe
  • Counsel's Office - Files
  • Counsel's Office - General
  • Lawyers Under Consideration for Staff A - O

Box 100 - Counsel's Office Administrative File

  • Lawyers Under Consideration for Staff P - Z
  • Office Organization and Functions (1) - (3)
  • Parking
  • Presidential Delegations of Authority to Counsel
  • Safeguarding Classified Materials
  • Staff
    - Areeda, Philip A.
    - Buzhardt, J. Fred
    - Casselman, William (1) - (2)
    - Chapman, Dudley H.
    - Dannenhauer, Jane
    - General (1) - (3)
    - French, Jay T.
    - Goldfield, H.P.

Box 101 - Counsel's Office Administrative File

  • Staff
    - Hills, Roderick (1) - (2)
    - Key, Shirley
    - Kilberg, Barbara
    - Lazarus, Ken (1) - (2)
    - Roth, Barry
    - Schmults, Edward
    - St. Clair, James
    - Wilderotter, James
  • Travel
  • Williams, George P. - Chronological File (1) - (2)

Box 102 - H.P. Goldfield File

  • A-B (Correspondence)
  • C-D (Correspondence)
  • Civil Service - Employment of Aliens
  • Clemency Program - GAO Report (1)-(3)
  • Conservative Christian Church (1)-(3)
  • E (Correspondence)
  • F (Correspondence)
  • Federal Property Council
  • First Family Gifts Inventory

Box 103 - H.P. Goldfield File

  • G-J (Correspondence)
  • Hunting and Fishing Day Proclamation
  • Johnston, Harvey F.
  • K-R (Correspondence)
  • Lexington Blue Grass Army Depot
  • Lichtensteiger, Frank
  • Nasem, Charles (1)-(3)
  • Pardon Attorney Office - Organization and Operation
  • Privacy Protection Study Commission - Annual Report
  • Privacy Protection Study Commission - Report on Federal Tax Return Liability

Box 104 - H.P. Goldfield File

  • Rawlins, Edward (1)-(2)
  • S-Z (Correspondence)
  • Serra, Arthur J.
  • Sweeney, John M.
  • Weeks, Etta (1)-(6)