Joseph Califano
Joseph Califano
Blog
Inside: A Public and Private Life
ISBN: 0786737786
Inside: A Public and Private Life
—from the publisher's website

Joe Califano grew up in a tight-knit working class family in Depression-era Brooklyn. His parents instilled in their son a work ethic, sense of self, and devotion to Church that stayed with him as he rose through the ranks of America's ruling class. From Jesuit undergraduate schools to Harvard Law, influential law firms, Robert McNamara's Pentagon, Lyndon Johnson's White House, and Jimmy Carter's Cabinet, Califano was hard charging, effective, and committed to his causes—whether that meant reforming the military, working for equal rights for all, his struggle to be a committed Catholic in America, or finally his passion to combat addictions that ruin so many American lives.

The book is called Inside, and that's where it takes us—inside his public and private life—as Califano worked in the power centers of three Democratic administrations. He shows us how hardball is often necessary to make government serve its people. Califano remained "inside" even out of government, representing the Washington Post and Democratic Party during Watergate.

Inside is history, memoir, and a profoundly revealing personal drama of a powerful figure involved in many defining events of the last half century. It is a tale of how ambition, tenacity and courage, guided by deeply felt ethics, can move the world, from the inside.

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TRANSCRIPT
Inside: A Public and Private Life
Program Air Date: May 23, 2004

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Joseph A. Califano, Jr., in your book, "Inside: A Public and Private Life," you mention on many, many pages the fact that you`re Catholic. Why was that important to you in this book?
JOSEPH CALIFANO, JR., AUTHOR, "INSIDE: A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LIFE": Well, it really -- you know, it`s very much a part of me and it`s very much a part of what I`ve done. I mean, my parents brought me up Catholic. I had a terrific Jesuit education that stuck with me. And all through my life, it`s really been the moral compass. And I think also, it affected what I believed. I mean, I really believed, for example, during the Great Society years with Lyndon Johnson that what we were doing was right. I mean, it was sort of -- it was morally right. It wasn`t just something we were doing.

And it gave me a lot of angst, too. I mean, there`s no question about it, especially at HEW, with all those difficult issues -- abortion, sterilization, DNA, fetal research, I mean, and cloning, and the struggle between what I believe as a Catholic and how you act in a pluralistic society. How do you -- you know, where -- where your -- where your objective -- you can express your view, what you believe, which I did, but then Congress acts or the president acts or somebody makes a decision, you got to decide, you know, execute it or get out. And it is a part of my life.
LAMB: What does it mean to be a Catholic?
CALIFANO: Oh, to me, I mean, it means that I have a terrific sense of every human being is created -- is a creature of God, created with dignity, with an inherent dignity. It means that it -- you have to, as you live your life, give to God what`s his and Caesar what`s his. And that`s not easy in public life, especially today. It`s getting more and more difficult. And I think it means that you have to say, I`m accountable. I mean, I think one of the things -- you know, people say, Oh, you`ve done a wonderful thing. You`ve started a center on addiction, substance abuse, or you`ve done this or that. But you know, in reality I think, you know, God`s given me incredible talents. After some terrible struggles with cancer, he`s given me good health. Why? What`s the purpose of that? Why am I here? Well, I`m -- ultimately, I`ll be held accountable to him, and that`s one of the reasons why I`ve done a lot of the things I`ve done.
LAMB: Two cancers. What were they?
CALIFANO: I had colon cancer. I had -- I was just starting the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in 1992. And woke up one morning, found blood in my stool, or -- and found out I had cancer. I couldn`t believe it. I mean, I don`t know, I guess we all think we`re -- we`re just immortal, nothing`s ever going to happen to us.

And you know, going to the surgeon and -- as I try and write in the book, you know, you -- I find myself looking at the surgeon`s hands when I`m interviewing him and thinking back how many -- asking how many times he performed this operation because I knew from the days at HEW the more surgeons do something, the better they are. And then he`d say, Well, you know, I don`t know whether you`ll have to have a colostomy. And I -- that just shook me to the marrow. And I said, What is that? And he said, Well, you know, it`s a bag. You tie it to your leg, but you get used to it, if your stomach isn`t functioning, your bowels aren`t functioning. It just shook me.

So I -- you know, I went to the Catholic churches -- you know, and then -- and then I -- you know, getting the -- the so-called -- it`s the sacrament of the sick now, is what it`s called. It was called extreme unction when I was a kid in elementary school. But getting that, sitting -- lying in New York Hospital, and all I could think of was those World War II movies, where the priests were giving extreme unction to the guys that were dead or near dead on the battlefield. And then -- and I -- I was -- you know, and also, I was a little -- there was a point at which I was a little angry. I was a little angry at God. I said, you know, Why would you do this to me now, when I`m about to start this center which I think can do a lot of good for people that are addicted or have problems?

In any case, I pulled out of that. And then about a year...
LAMB: By the way, what year was that first operation?
CALIFANO: In 1992.
LAMB: Twelve years ago.
CALIFANO: It was 12 years ago. And to give you a sense -- I mean, I was -- I had the operation and I -- it was right before our first dinner introducing this Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse to the New York community, trying to put it on the agenda of people like Barbara Walters and Peter Jennings and this whole array of people and get them interested in it.

Then could I go to the dinner? Couldn`t -- I barely made the dinner. I got out of the hospital two days before the dinner. And at the dinner, I had to wear a diaper because there was no sense of whether I had or wouldn`t have any control. And then actually, again, as I point out in the book, remarkable -- as I`m leaving the dinner, I`m -- I`m -- I`ve gotten through it. It went well. Peter Jennings says to me, I don`t know what`s wrong with you -- because Barbara Walters had said, you know, Come on up here and show us your scars. So Peter Jennings says to me, he said, I don`t know what everybody`s talking about. He said, You`ve never looked better. And my wife, Hillary, who spent years trying to get me to lose weight, jabs me in the elbow and she says, You see? She said, See what losing 20 pounds does for you?
LAMB: The first cancer in 1992, did you go through chemotherapy?
CALIFANO: I did, after the operation. And that`s the -- that was the second scare. We have the operation, and a doctor says to me, Well, you have, you know, what they call stage three or C-stage cancer. And I watched my wife`s face go ashen. And I said, Uh-oh. This is something. And then he said, But, you know, it`s -- that means that something`s gotten outside the intestines. Something started to slip out into the lymph nodes. And I got what was then very experimental, called adjutant chemotherapy. It was an experimental chemotherapy.

A doctor, Dr. Wolf (ph) up in New York -- and I go there and I -- all this time, incidentally -- and every -- I got the chemo every week. I exercised like crazy because I wanted to make sure that I could maintain my energy because I didn`t tell a soul. That was the other thing. I couldn`t tell -- I -- I didn`t want a soul to know. I was just beginning to raise money. I was just beginning to recruit people. And I thought to myself, How am I going to get the best people in the country to work on this if they think I may not be around in a year? So everything was done in secrecy. I went into the hospital under a different name, Joseph Anthony.

I had that rare experience for anyone that lives in New York of having a doctor that said, Don`t worry, I`ll get you in and out within half an hour. And he did. And it was always at an odd hour. So it was a traumatic experience.
LAMB: Then when did you get prostate cancer?
CALIFANO: Prostate cancer a few years ago. I was well -- I -- actually, the prostate -- we sort of did phase one, got the center organized. We`d raised some money, about to go into the second phase of raising money and...
LAMB: And the center`s called, by the way, what?
CALIFANO: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. We call it CASA. The concept is to get -- is, very briefly -- you know, I`ll answer your question. The concept is to get all the different skills, not just medicine and law, but epidemiology and economics and statistics and public health and social work and everything to look at the issue as addiction -- all substances -- alcohol, drugs, pills, performance-enhancing substance, prescription pills, and look at it in every place of society. No place in the world was doing that, or is to this day, not just the criminal justice system and health care but schools and everything.

So we`re on round two, just beginning, and Dr. Nash (ph), my doctor, notices that my PSA has gone up. And he says, It`s still within the normal range, but it`s a big jump. And maybe it`s bacteria. I`ll give you an antibiotic. But it didn`t go down. It kept going up. So he said, You need -- you need -- you need to be treated.

And then the issue is whether to have an operation or to have radiation. And I went through all of the agony you go through trying to pick one or the other. And again, I picked radiation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dr. Libel (ph). And he again was giving it to me very early in the morning so that nobody would know. I told -- the only person that knew this was my wife for many years -- actually, until I wrote this book, I think -- my wife, and then I told my three biological children because I wanted to make sure they were getting tests for colon cancer. But -- and you know, thank God, that was a few years ago, a couple -- and I`m OK.
LAMB: From reading the book, a couple quick things. You were married to Trudy (ph) for 23 years...
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: ... had three children.
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: Married to Hillary. You`re originally from Brooklyn. How many years of Catholic school?
CALIFANO: Sixteen years. I had St. Gregory`s elementary school, 35 kids, nuns. You know, they`d slap you on the knuckles with the ruler. Never -- never -- never really hurt that much, but it was always done in front of the class. The nuns always understood the deterrence of embarrassment for a little kid. And then I went to Brooklyn Prep, which was a Jesuit high school in Brooklyn, and then to Holy Cross College, which was a Jesuit college and found the Jesuits to be fantastic teachers. And in those days, you graduated -- you majored in philosophy.
LAMB: How many years were you a Washington lawyer in the midst of all of this?
CALIFANO: I came back -- well, you know, I first came down -- I was all kinds of Washington lawyers. I mean, I was -- I was in the Judge Advocate General`s Corps in the Navy, defending criminals. I then went to New York, practiced very briefly, was in the Pentagon as a lawyer for a while before I became McNamara`s assistant.
LAMB: You were in Tom Dewey`s (ph) law firm.
CALIFANO: I was in Tom Dewey`s law firm in New York, at Dewey Valentine (ph). And I thought I`d love it, but I was in short order really bored to death. I mean, I -- I -- you know, I felt, in many ways, I was making money for people who already had more money than they could ever spend in their life.

And I had one of those -- you know, one of those sort of defining moments. The DuPont family was ordered to divest itself of control of General Motors, and it required the biggest stock split in the history of the country for them to make marketable the stock in the company through which they controlled General motors. And I was the youngest guy on the totem pole on that. I worked for weeks and weeks, really, as a high-class proofreader. There were no paralegals in those days. Filed the papers with the SEC.

And the partner in charge, Stewart Scott (ph), had this dinner at the this -- then brand-new Philip Johnson (ph) restaurant, the Four Seasons in New York. And it was a classic Wall Street dinner -- you know, five courses, lots of drinks, lots of wine, brandy at the end. And toasting with this brandy snifter at the end, he said, You know, you`re the luckiest lawyer in this law firm, maybe on Wall Street. He said, I`ve been practicing law for 35 years, and this is the greatest experience of my life.

I came home that night and I said, If this is the top, I want no part of it. So I wrote a letter to Cy Vance and came down and went to the -- went to the Pentagon.
LAMB: Cy Vance at that time...
CALIFANO: Cy Vance was general counsel of the Defense Department. I wrote a letter on a Wednesday -- it was -- in those days, the mail worked. On Friday morning, he called me up. I sent him a resume. He called me up on a Friday morning and asked me to come down on Saturday. I got on an airplane, flew down. He interviewed me, the longest interview of my life, a couple of hours, which was stunning to me, to go through something like that. And then he took me by to touch Bob McNamara`s hand, who was the secretary of defense, and then offered me this job as his assistant to -- to really -- you know, for the reorganization of the Pentagon.
LAMB: What year?
CALIFANO: This was 1961. I was just -- not quite 30 years old. But it was -- you know, the Pentagon -- we all think of McNamara as Vietnam, but in the early days, we were turning the place upside down. My analogy would be I felt like I was one of those young lawyers in the Roosevelt administration that Schlesinger wrote about.

I mean -- and one of the most remarkable experiences -- I mean, McNamara said, Why are the individual four services all buying their stuff separately? Why don`t we buy it together through a defense procurement agency and really get bargain prices? All the services opposed that. So he had this big meeting in his office, and he had all the Joint Chiefs of Staff there and the service secretaries there. And we came in, the others that -- there were four of us that were working on this -- with these huge pegboards. And hanging from the pegboards, we`d have the Marine Corps brassiere, the Army brassiere, the Navy brassieres, the Air Force brassier. And we`d have different underwear, different belts, different toilet seats, different pans. It was incredible.

And McNamara said, Why do we have to -- what`s the difference between all these things? And the commandant of the Marine Corps said, The Marine Corps belt buckle is the only belt buckle that can be used as a bottle opener. And there was a little tittering. And at that moment, everyone in that room knew McNamara would create the Defense Procurement Agency, and he did the next day.
LAMB: You went to Holy Cross. Then where`d you get your law degree?
CALIFANO: Harvard. And that was...
LAMB: So you`re at the Pentagon. You`ve got a Harvard law degree. You`re working for Cy Vance, eventually for Bob McNamara. We`ll go back over some of this, but after the Pentagon, where did you go then?
CALIFANO: I went briefly to Arnold and Porter because I had a lot of friends there and because it -- it was sort of a Democratic law firm, and...
LAMB: It`s the Abe Fortas law firm.
CALIFANO: The Abe Fortas law firm. Oh, well, I should say, after the Pentagon, I went to the White House for four years. I`m sorry.
LAMB: Well, that`s what I mean. Yes. And what did you do... (CROSSTALK)
CALIFANO: In the White House? In the White House, Brian, I -- you know, I -- I became -- I was Johnson`s assistant for domestic affairs. And you know, when he -- I didn`t know him when I went to work for him. The first weekend I met him at the ranch was -- is just emblazoned in my head because I would go down to the ranch. I don`t know the president. Lady Bird says -- I arrived about 8:00 in the morning, so I left Washington about 4:00 in the morning. Lady Bird says, You better eat something because you never know when the next meal is coming with Lyndon. And she was very nice.

And he`s in the pool. He waves me into the swimming pool, gets down to the deep end of the pool. He`s 6`3". I`m 5`10". He`s standing. I`m treading water. And he starts on what he wants to do. And he says, I want to create a transportation department. Transportation system in the country`s a mess. Bang! He hits me on the shoulder, pushes me down. Then he says, I want to show that we can rebuild the cities America. Bang! Hits me, pushes me down again.

Then he starts, And we`re going to have a fair -- I want a fair housing bill, so whether you`re black or white or red or green or purple, you can live in the same place. And with every color, he hits my shoulder. I`m going down, gasping for breath. And he says, Now, can you do all this? Can do you all this for your president? I said, Yes, Mr. President. I had no idea how. And it was just incredible.

That was my entrance. I didn`t -- we didn`t get to sleep that night, incidentally, until about 3:00 AM in the morning. He just kept going and going and going all day.
LAMB: And four years with him.
CALIFANO: Four years, putting those Great Society programs together and trying to get them working.
LAMB: How old were you then?
CALIFANO: I was 34 when I went to the White House, just 34. It was -- you know -- you know, it was incredible because I was brought up in Brooklyn in an entirely different world. You know, on the -- I mean, my parents weren`t poor, but they were middle class. You know, it was -- it was -- it was punch ball. It was ring-a-levio. It was kick the can. It was all these games you play on the street in Brooklyn. And this great Texas-Washington presence. But I was lucky. I had a lot of breaks. A few -- he gave me some tricky tasks to do, and they all worked out well.
LAMB: How long were you in the Abe Fortas Arnold and Porter law firm?
CALIFANO: Very briefly. I went there after the -- well, you know, at the end, when -- getting away from Johnson is no mean trick. And he wanted me to go down to Texas and run the library and start the school of public affairs. And I -- I was exhausted. Worked almost every day for almost four years.

So I -- so I -- somebody said to me, You got to get a job because he`s -- President Johnson started calling around telling people, Don`t hire Joe for two years. He`s coming with me. So I -- Paul Porter I knew. I made an agreement with Paul Porter, went over to Arnold and Porter, and was there -- I walked into the -- a firestorm battle over whether Abe Fortas should come back when he came off the court.

And I met Ed Williams. I had met -- actually, through Katharine Graham. I mean, Katharine Graham called me when I was at the White House and said, you know, President Johnson`s going to name the first mayor of Washington. We`d just passed a law. She wanted it to be Williams, and the president wasn`t about to do it. So I said, Kay, it`s not going to be Williams. The president wants -- he`s white. We want to name a black. He doesn`t know anything about cities. And he`s representing Bobby Baker, who is one of Johnson`s aides in trouble.

And at that point, she said, Well, don`t you want to meet him? I said, There`s no point in meeting him. You know, you have no time when you`re in the White House and that kind of a furious thing. But she was a little miffed. So she would put Ed Williams and me at the same table at her dinner parties, and then we got to know each other and we started -- and we were both workaholics, so we started having lunch on Saturdays. And finally, he and I and Paul Connolly formed a partnership, Williams, Connolly and Califano, on a handshake, not -- not a piece of paper. We never had a piece of paper.
LAMB: You`ve got pictures in the book, this particular one of your -- a bunch of your -- what would you say, I guess, cronies.
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: From left to right -- Art Buchwald, David Brinkley, Jack Valenti, Edward Bennett Williams and you.
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: What year was this taken?
CALIFANO: This was Ed`s -- this was his 66th birthday, so it would probably have been in the late `70s, early `80s.
LAMB: What was he known for, besides owning part of the...
CALIFANO: Oh, well, he was the greatest criminal lawyer of his generation. He was fantastic.
LAMB: Who`d he represent?
CALIFANO: Well, he represented Jimmy Hoffa. He represented John Connally. He represented Joe McCarthy. He -- and when we -- when we -- when we formed the partnership, one of the things we really wanted to do was represent "The Washington Post." And ultimately, we became the counsel for "The Washington Post," and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for me, even more than for him, because his -- he loved all the amendments to the Constitution, but he was really focused on the 6th and criminal justice. And he had a lot of misgivings about the way the press exercised their 1st Amendment rights. So I became the "Washington Post" lawyer and the 1st Amendment lawyer. And when Watergate broke, I ended up representing "The Post" and Woodward and Bernstein, and protecting the source, "Deep Throat."
LAMB: I want to come back to -- but briefly -- and we`ll try to get to a lot of this stuff -- you went on to be the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, the last one with that title...
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: ... in the Carter administration. How long were you there?
CALIFANO: I was there 30 months. It was a -- it was -- it was it`s a fantastic job. I mean, I really -- I wanted to show that the Great Society programs could be run. There were starting to be complaints about them. And so I really -- I loved that job.
LAMB: Were you smoking four packs of cigarettes, going in?
CALIFANO: I was smoking four packs of cigarettes working for Lyndon Johnson. I used to keep -- I used to keep two packs of Kents in one pocket and two packs of mentholated cigarettes in the other pocket for when my throat got raw. It was unbelievable. I was down to about two packs a day, but I was smoking a lot.

I stopped in 1975 because my son, who is now an orthopedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins -- or not orthopedic, head neck cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins. My son, Joe, was 11 years old. His birthday was right after Christmas. And I said, Joe, what do you want for your birthday? He said, I want you to quit smoking, Dad. I said, Well, you have to get a proper present. What do you really want? He said, Dad, I really want you to quit smoking. So I came back and quit in 1975, two years before I went to HEW.

But what happened -- what kicked off the anti-smoking campaign, we wanted to do something about health promotion, disease prevention. And I got -- I did a survey and found out that 90 percent of the people who were hooked on cigarettes were hooked while they were teenagers. And about 60 percent of the people who smoked tried to quit within the last year, but they didn`t. And that led to the big public campaign and the big anti-smoking campaign.

Every doctor told me we had to go after smoking if we wanted to do health promotion. And all hell broke loose. I mean, people forget. In those days, there was nobody with us. I mean, I was alone. I mean, I -- when I made HEW smoke-free, the first public building in the country, basically, to go smoke-free, I had complaints within the department, from all over the department, people in the Social Security Administration complaining. And then the tobacco industry went nuts, to put it mildly.
LAMB: Did Jimmy Carter fire you?
CALIFANO: Yes.
LAMB: Why?
CALIFANO: I think that was a large part of it. In mid-`79 -- Eastertime `79, I remembered Teddy Kennedy -- 1979, Good Friday, actually, having -- I was having lunch with him and he said, You`ve got to get out of the administration. He said, the president can`t carry North Carolina or Virginia or Kentucky or maybe even Georgia, his own state, and maybe even Connecticut, with you sitting there, this tobacco thing. And I kind of wrote that off because I looked at Teddy and I said, you know, he`s running for president. He`s going run against Carter. He`d love to unravel the administration, have me go.

And then Tip O`Neill called me up to his office. And he said, You know, you have these tobacco guys so mad at you, they could kill you. You know, Tip had that Irish view of, you know, very sort of sinister forces. He said, They could kill you. He thought they could murder me. And then the president called me in and -- you know, for a variety of reasons, but it was fundamentally the smoking issue.

And to his credit, I have to say, many years later at a dinner New York, he pulled me aside and he said, Joe, I want you to know about smoking, you were right and I was wrong. And if I can ever do anything to help, I will.
LAMB: You talk a lot about money and the influence of it in your book. And just to jump back to something we were talking about earlier, when you tried to get a hospital or a school -- actually, a school -- to deal with your organization now to eliminate smoking and things like that, you went to New York University. John Brademas (ph), used to be a congressman...
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: ... ran it, but he didn`t want your center there because of why?
CALIFANO: Larry Tisch was the chairman of the board, and he also was the -- his company also owned Lorillard Tobacco, which -- a major cigarette company.
LAMB: And he also owned CBS at the time.
CALIFANO: And he owned CBS. And when I made it clear that we intended to go after tobacco, as well as drugs and alcohol, John, in the sophisticated, indirect way you send a signal, made it clear that it would create a lot of tension with Larry Tisch. And I was on the board of New York University at that time. So I end up at Columbia. And Columbia has all the graduate schools and -- it`s the right -- it`s the right place.
LAMB: But when you mention CBS -- you`re now married to a woman that`s pictured here in your book...
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: ... by the name of Hillary. And her father was Bill Paley, the founder of CBS.
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: And among other things, you write in the book that you were at his bedside when he died.
CALIFANO: I was at his bedside. It was the first time I saw anybody die. He had -- he suffered from cigarette illness, emphysema. He had been a heavy smoker. He had stopped smoking when he had problems with one of his lungs years and years before. And He hung on -- that -- there were so many things about his death that had a tremendous impact on me.

I mean, one was, when he was close to dying, and there were -- he had six children. And we were in his apartment. And the doctor said, you know, He`s not going to live. And the issue is whether to unhook him. He turned his apartment into an intensive care unit. He had tubes to feed him, tubes to take care -- vent his waste, tubes to help him breathe, tubes to mix his blood. I mean, it was just incredible -- drain his blood. He was bleeding internally. And five of the kids said yes, and one child said, No, Daddy wants to live. He wants to hang on. And when the doctor said, Well, yes, he doesn`t even want the chair -- he doesn`t even want to lie down, he wants to sit up so he doesn`t fall asleep or die, what have you. So the kids all -- every child said then, Let it be.

Then we came back. My wife had a premonition the day we went back. We went back to his apartment that night. And you know, I watched this man of enormous power, who had every need he wanted in his life satisfied. And I just -- I had never seen anyone die before, Brian. I mean, you know, he just collapsed. His whole body just collapsed into death. Hillary was there.

After his funeral and memorial service, we were walking along 5th Avenue, and Hillary says, you know, You don`t have to practice law anymore. You don`t have to make all of this money anymore. I know you`re champing at the bit. You can do what you want to do, and you can try to deal with this addiction problem, if you want to, because I now can take care of my kids. And that was it. I mean, at that moment, I knew I was going to start CASA.
LAMB: One of the things I kept asking as I read your book is, Why do you want us to know all this? Because you go in -- I mean, we`re not even scratching the surface here. You`re telling us a lot about your personal life, about your religious life and about your professional life.
CALIFANO: I wrote this book for my children and my grandchildren. And I mean -- I want people to know this is an incredible land of opportunity. I mean, my mother was a school teacher. My father started at IBM as a secretary and was an administrative assistant, when he retired, you know, 30 years later. I didn`t know anybody when I went to Washington. I didn`t know Cy Vance when I wrote him a letter applying for a job. And look what happened. Only in America something like this can happen. I mean, you represent "The Washington Post," the Democratic Party during Watergate. You have all these other experiences.

And the other thing was, I think it`s very important for people with public power to have a moral compass. Now, mine happened to be my Catholic faith and what I believe in. And there are lots of different moral compasses, and people have them. But it is important to have that. You can`t exercise public power amorally. It`s -- especially in a democracy, and especially where government is now so powerful.
LAMB: Did you keep notes through these years?
CALIFANO: I`ll tell you what I did. I kept -- I had -- I had 525 boxes, legal-sized boxes of material when we started on this book that I`d collected from the beginning. I kept all my letters. When a -- when a -- when an occurrence -- when something would happen that I thought was a momentous incident, I`d make a memo for the record. I mean, for example, I write in there about meeting -- about Jaworski calling me over when he was the special prosecutor to sort of feel me out, to sort of indicate that he -- you know, he had Nixon cold, when told me he may have a runaway grand jury, and you know, how would the Democrats react? How would "The Post" people react, sort of?

I`d come back from a meeting like that and immediately dictate a memo for the record. I mean, I didn`t know whether I was ever going to write it or not, it just struck me that this was incredible. And so I did that. When I worked for Lyndon Johnson, Johnson would tell you to do nine different things at the same time. You know, he`d tell you -- he tell you he wanted a -- draft a major Civil Rights bill, call up the steel companies, roll back the price of steel, and get the door fixed, the door is squeaking. I mean, so I used to have -- had these sawed-off steno pads that would fit in your pocket, and I -- you`d write it all down. I kept all those pads, and they`re all at the LBJ library now. It`s hard for a lot of people to read them, and it was hard for me to read some of them from 40 years ago.
LAMB: But a citizen could go down there and ask for those steno pads and look at them.
CALIFANO: Any citizen can look at them. And everything that`s cited in this book and everything in support of what`s in this book either is or will be at the LBJ library. And I think it`s organized according to the chapters in this book. But I did -- I did have -- I had an enormous amount of stuff, and, you know, it`s very important, because you -- you don`t remember things. You think something happened in 1965 and you find out it happened in 1972. And you wonder how you could ever -- you know, how something like that could ever happen.
LAMB: Here`s an incident. I actually first read this in "The New York Daily News." I`m sure you`ve gotten feedback on this. "About halfway down the isle, a young woman with dark hair and thick rimmed glasses abruptly came in front of me and said, quote, `you sold out, you m-fer. You sold out.`" I didn`t use the actual words for obvious reasons. "I kept walking, pretending to ignore her. Two and a half years later at 11 a.m. on Monday March 19, 1973, that same young woman walked into my office at Williams, Connelly & Califano for a job interview. It was Hillary Rodham." You obviously remembered what she said to you.
CALIFANO: I know -- I won`t forget it. You have to --- and then I offered her a job. And she said, well, she thought about it. And she said, no, I`m going to go to Arkansas. But that was the summer of 1972. It was the most anti-establishment summer I think in the history of Washington. I walked into the Senate caucus hearing about migrant workers with the president of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola was being assaulted for not handling migrant workers properly in Florida. They did straighten it out. And the anger in that room was palpable, you could feel it. I mean -- you -- you could -- when I walked down the aisle with the chairman of Coca-Cola, I felt hated. Everybody in that room hated us. So that -- when that woman came up to me, she sort of captured the whole room. And it was seared on my mind.

Needless to say, I had no idea who she was at that time. And when -- when she walked into my office...
LAMB: Are you surprised at the language she used?
CALIFANO: No, because remember. We -- we -- you know, sure it`s a rough language. But we`re talking about angry young people, who were trying to change the world. All the four-letter words were, you know -- were coming. After -- in the late `60s and early `70s we had this revolution in the use of four-letter words in this country. And women started using them as much as men and men started -- especially the young ones. It was an angry time.
LAMB: Here`s another incident of another famous American. "Late that afternoon, Moyers set up a conference call with Treasury Secretary Henry Fowler, who had just assumed his post, and me. Moyers said the DNC would backdate a check, and he wanted us to say that the bill had had been paid and the story was incorrect." Is that -- is that -- was that a crime?
CALIFANO: No. I don`t think it was a crime, but ...
LAMB: What`s the story?
CALIFANO: Well, the story was this. The Democratic Party had not paid the Pentagon for the use -- the presidential use of military aircraft during the campaign. And the Pentagon …and they hadn`t paid. Walter Pincus, a reporter for the --- then for "The Washington Star" got the story, wrote a story that they hadn`t paid.

Moyers, who I didn`t know well at that time, but he was obviously under enormous pressure from Lyndon Johnson, and you could feel it in the phone conversation. And Johnson was going to prove this reporter wrong and say the bill had been paid. Fowler and I refused to do that. And then eventually -- and Bill finally said, the check is gone. So I said, OK, I`ll issue a statement that says the bill was paid by a check dated this date, which was two or three weeks earlier, which I did. And Walter Pincus, being a good reporter that he was, wrote the next day that the check was delivered an hour before I issued the statement. Even though it was dated two weeks earlier.
LAMB: And Bill Moyers at that time was what to ...?
CALIFANO: He was LBJ`s press secretary. You know, he would have been -- he would have been an assistant, because when Bill became press secretary, I went over to the White House.
LAMB: And Walter Pincus wrote for "The Washington Post."
CALIFANO: Walter Pincus then wrote for "The Evening Star" at that time.
LAMB: I want to ask you if this has ever been printed before. "Years later when I was on the White House staff, Lyndon Johnson told me, quote, `Kennedy tried to kill Castro but Castro got Kennedy first.`" Have you ever reported that before?
CALIFANO: I think this is the first reporting of that. I may -- I may have talked to people about that.
LAMB: You go on to say you agreed with Lyndon Johnson that Castro through Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy?
CALIFANO: I have come to believe that, Brian. Today I -- I -- when I was in the Pentagon, I was -- I served on a super secret committee on Cuba, set up in January of 1973, under President Kennedy. The objective was to overthrow Castro, to get rid of him. What`s in the book about those events -- most of that has never been published before. I fought to get these documents declassified when I was doing the memoir.

It was wild. And we were going -- we were going to do all kinds of things. We were going to put -- we wanted sugar in their gasoline. We were going to tell the Cubans all to turn the water on at the same time to drain their water. At one point, we considered whether we should tie incendiary devices to the feet of bats, drop the bats over Cuba at night. They would fly into the attics of houses and buildings; the incendiary device would go off and the island would go up in flames. But there were clearly -- Robert Kennedy was determined to assassinate Castro. It was --- it was -- The Kennedys were obsessed with it, and ...
LAMB: What did you do when you were confronted with it yourself?
CALIFANO: Well, the first time -- it came up once at one of our committee meetings. The committee was the CIA, the Defense Department, the State Department and the Justice Department. And the State was not only in charge but Robert Kennedy was in charge. And when -- when it was -- the only time it was discussed in a formal way in that committee, I opposed it, and Joe Dolan (ph), who was the Justice Department, a young Justice Department lawyer at the time, also opposed it.

The remarkable thing in retrospect is the CIA was completely silent during that whole discussion. But If you`re Castro, just think now about November, the fall of 1963. There had been several attempts on your life. The mob, the poison pens, the crazy stuff. And in September, Castro told a reporter for Associated Press, you know, the American leaders ought to be careful because if they`re going to try to kill me, they`re not immune from -- from being killed.

November 1, Diem is killed, the head of the South Vietnam, is killed in a coup that we sponsored, that was approved by President Kennedy. So you`re sitting there and you`re Castro, and you`ve got to say, these guys are going to get me. November 22, President Kennedy is assassinated.

And I think the paroxysms of grief -- I mean -- unbelievable grief of Robert Kennedy -- this is a personal view, but I really do believe the unbelievable grief is -- was driven in good measure by the fact that he thought some of the things he was doing are what may have killed his brother.

I walked -- I was general counsel of the Army at that time. One of my responsibilities was Arlington Cemetery. On the Saturday after the assassination, McNamara said, go over to Arlington Cemetery, meet Robert Kennedy to pick the gravesite. And I walked that 3.2-acre site in the pouring rain with Robert Kennedy. I`d never seen a more shattered man. I mean, it was just so unlike him. Unbelievable grief. I mean, it was as though he was carrying tons of grief on those small shoulders. And I think -- I think that`s really part of it.

And think about this. When you think about commissions and the commissions we have today, the Warren commission never talked to me or anybody else involved in the covert Cuban program in the course of their investigation about that.
LAMB: You say that Lee Harvey Oswald visited Russia, came back through Mexico City ...
CALIFANO: That`s right.
LAMB: Cuban embassy he visited over there.
CALIFANO: Right, that`s correct.
LAMB: Is that the connection for you?
CALIFANO: That`s part of the connection, yes. And I think -- you know, there are still people working on this. I think we will know the answer to this. I hope we know it in my lifetime. But I think at some point we`ll have the answer to this. But -- and Johnson believed it. And immediately after Johnson became president he ended this covert program. And I was sent around the country to see the Cuban brigade members and tell them that it was all over. And that was not happy, that was a difficult...
LAMB: The father of the current press secretary of the president has written a book that says Lyndon Johnson had John F. Kennedy killed.
CALIFANO: A total lie. And I mean -- that -- that is -- that is an outrageous thing. I think the History Channel has had three historians look at that. And they have all said it was an outrageous broadcast. It never should have been broadcast. The History Channel has apologized to Lady Bird Johnson for doing that. I think they need to kind of -- they need some kind of standards of review before putting that kind of crap on the air.
LAMB: Has anybody accused you of being Deep Throat?
CALIFANO: No. And I wasn`t Deep Throat.
LAMB: You know why I would ask that, though.
CALIFANO: Sure.
LAMB: I mean, is there anybody that had their hands in so many pies around Watergate than you?
CALIFANO: I don`t think so. But it was -- you know -- I was -- I filed a lawsuit three days after the break-in.
LAMB: The Democratic National Committee lawsuit?
CALIFANO: On behalf of the Democratic National Committee, we filed a civil lawsuit -- on behalf of Larry O’Brien committee. I was also -- and it was in that lawsuit, and in the course of that lawsuit that Woodward and Bernstein were subpoenaed to identify their source. I argued the motion to quash that subpoena before Judge Ritchie (ph). Won that, although over time ....
LAMB: On behalf of?
CALIFANO: On behalf of "The Washington Post." The -- I was sitting in my office one day, and Alexander Butterfield, who worked for me as my Air Force aide when I worked for Secretary McNamara...
LAMB: Air Force lieutenant colonel.
CALIFANO: Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Butterfield calls, he says I`m in the Sheraton Carlton barber shop. He said, Joe, I need you -- I need you to be my lawyer. And I said, why? Well, he said, I told a staff member of the Watergate Committee that the president had this taping system, which was automatically in effect whenever anybody spoke.
LAMB: He was working in the White House ...
CALIFANO: Butterfield was Richard Nixon`s doorman. No -- Richard Nixon would not take a phone call unless Alexander Butterfield took it first. Because he wanted to know -- even from his wife and children, Alex told me, because he knew this taping system went off whenever (ph) the subject was. And he was testifying before the Watergate committee afternoon. I said -- I said, Alex, I can`t represent you. I represent the Democratic Party, and I`m now representing "The Washington Post." I just can`t do it. So we talked about it. And he`s a straight arrow. And he said -- I said, just go up there alone. You`ll make a hell of an impression.
LAMB: To testify?
CALIFANO: To testify this afternoon. And then he says, is there anything else I should do? And I said, well, I said, are you still in the barber shop? And he said, yes. I said, get a damn good haircut because they`re going to take a hell lot of pictures of you this afternoon.
LAMB: So, this is 1973.
CALIFANO: This is 1973.
LAMB: And at the same time?
CALIFANO: Well, at the same time, Al Haig -- Al Haig had been my military aide on the Cuban problems when I was -- when I was with the Department of the Army. And then I brought him up when I worked for Bob McNamara.
LAMB: And his job at this time was?
CALIFANO: His job -- he was -- he was -- when he first called me, he was vice chief of staff of the Army. And he said, President Nixon wants me to go over and be his chief of staff. And the whole thing was coming apart, and I said, you know, if you do that, you`ll never be chairman of the JCS, which I fully believe he would have been. And we talked about it, and we both thought he could help the presidency. And the presidency of this country was important. We both believed in the strong presidency.

So he went over there. After Nixon gets into the battle -- the battle of the tapes is just beginning. They hadn`t been subpoenaed yet. And Al Haig calls me and he says -- oh, the other thing, he had urged Nixon to hire Ed Williams and me -- Nixon -- Nixon ...
LAMB: Your law partner.
CALIFANO: My law partner Ed Williams and me. And Nixon said, no, they`re Democrats. Al called me and said, you know, if you were me, what would you advise Nixon to do about the tapes? And I said, look, Al, I`m not your lawyer. And he said, yeah, but just if you were me. I said, if I were you, I`d tell Nixon to burn the tapes. And he said, well, that would be a terrible problem. I said, look, it would be a terrible firestorm. All hell will break loose. I understand that. But it will be over in three weeks.
LAMB: And why would you tell him that, a good Democrat as you were?
CALIFANO: Well, you know, Brian, I just -- we were very close friends. I think it was a different kind of Washington. I mean, it was -- it was -- you know, as they used to say, after 5:00 o`clock, there was no partisanship. I mean -- I made it clear I wasn`t his lawyer. I did say this is what I would tell him if I were you. And Nixon did not burn the tapes. The tapes hadn`t been subpoenaed yet.
LAMB: When did Peter Rodino, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that had the hearings, call you and ask for advice?
CALIFANO: Peter called me after -- well, the impeachment for -- OK. We started to get all the impeachment issues. They were being raised. Carl Albert was -- was very concerned.
LAMB: The speaker?
CALIFANO: The speaker. Carl Albert was the speaker of the House. He was very concerned. Agnew is resigning as vice president -- has resigned as vice president. I happened to be sitting there in the courtroom because I was representing Richard Cohen on another...
LAMB: Columnist, Richard...
CALIFANO: Columnist. Then he was a metro reporter for "The Washington Post." They were trying to find out who his source was about the Agnew stories. And I was defending, protecting his source.

But in any case, back -- Carl Albert had called me. He said, we can`t have -- we have to get Gerry Ford nominated and confirmed as vice president. I don`t want to be -- he said -- in the line of succession. I don`t want them to think there`s anything political about the impeachment proceedings. So I helped Carl Albert do a statement, which he said that they`d get Ford nominated. There wouldn`t be any Judiciary Committee hearings until after that was done in the following year. And then Peter Rodino, who was an old friend of mine, called me up and asked me -- he really asked me two things. I mean, one of which is in the book. When he asked me to help him find somebody, or recommend somebody. And I did recommend John Doar (ph), who became the chief counsel. I think -- I think Doar (ph) -- I think -- I`m sure other people recommended Doar (ph) as well. But I was a big proponent of Door (ph). And I think I was the first one to talk to Peter about it.

And then, I also said, you know, if you really want to understand the workings of the White House, get Butterfield up here early on to talk to you and your staff, because he`ll be able -- he really knows the interstices on how that place ran.
LAMB: Had if become public yet about the tapes at that point?
CALIFANO: The tapes were public. Yes.
LAMB: Because he had testified in the Senate first, where he first testified about the tapes.
CALIFANO: That`s correct. That`s correct.
LAMB: So you`ve talked to Peter Rodino and advised him. And -- in the middle of all of this, I keep reading in here that you were always running to "The Washington Post." As they every day would get up in this town, at 10:20 at night, you`d get your first paper down by the Capitol Hilton, so you`d find out what was in the paper the next day.
CALIFANO: Yeah.
LAMB: But you would vet for them whether or not it was legal.
CALIFANO: I was vetting those stories. I was constantly going over there in the afternoon or getting a call. And, you know, vetting stories for Ben Bradlee and Howard Simons is -- is not easy, and ....
LAMB: What were their jobs?
CALIFANO: Ben Bradlee was the editor of "The Post," the executive editor. Howard Simons was the managing editor. And every once in a while -- I remember on one occasion I said, you know, can`t we wait until tomorrow? I don`t have enough time. And they said, no, we`re going to run it today. I said, well, let me -- he said -- he said, you make too much money to be a reporter. And -- you`re a lawyer. Don`t tell us when. Just answer our question.

And they were -- and with Woodward and Bernstein, I mean -- Ben Bradlee coming to Ed Williams and me and saying, can Woodward and Bernstein talk to grand jurors? He said, hell, no, they can`t talk to grand jurors. He had this mischievous twinkle in his eye -- and, you know, and they were -- and Woodward and Bernstein were constantly going after the witnesses before the Watergate grand jury, which you can do. To the point where Earl Silbert (ph), who was the U.S. attorney in Washington, was calling me complaining about how aggressive they were.

But yeah -- it was -- the town -- the town in those days, I remember -- people got up in the morning. It was as Bradlee said -- it was like a fix. People wanted to know what did "The Washington Post" have today about Watergate.
LAMB: Some people wanted it the night before.
CALIFANO: Sure.
LAMB: And you didn`t have Internet then, so you couldn`t get it..
CALIFANO: That`s right, and right in front of the Mayflower Hotel.
LAMB: Did you ever leak to "The Washington Post" information that you had based on what you were picking up all around town?
CALIFANO: No. The one -- I never told "The Post" what I knew as a Democrat or vice versa. I never -- I told Ed Williams just about everything I knew, although I held back from Ed. The one thing I did hold back from Ed, I did not tell Ed about talking to Haig, about the tapes.
LAMB: Why not?
CALIFANO: I just thought it was a very personal conversation. Years later, you know, Ed went up to New York and had dinner with Richard Nixon and told him he should have burned the tapes. Many years later. And I never told Ed, Jaworski called me over near the end.
LAMB: Now, he`s the special prosecutor?
CALIFANO: He was the special prosecutor.
LAMB: Going after President Nixon?
CALIFANO: Going after President Nixon and others. Leon Jaworski called me over. And that`s one of the times that I really did a detailed memo. And he sat down. The first part of the conversation was about John Connally, because Ed was representing John Connally, the secretary of the treasury, who was indicted for bribery. And he wanted to tell me that he had -- he, Jaworski, disqualified himself from representing -- from going after Connally, because he knew him so well, but he wanted to warn me that he thought they had a cold-cut (ph) case against Connally and he wanted me to get that message to Ed Williams.

Then, I thought that was the meal, but it turned out to be only the appetizer. Then he said -- he wanted to talk about Watergate. And he told me that he had a -- that the grand jury was convinced Nixon was guilty. He had on more than one occasion had to hold the jury back from indicting him. The grand jury was worried that the political mechanisms in the House for impeachment would not understand the depth of the crimes the president had committed. And he started to talk to me about what did I think would happen if he made some kind of a deal with Nixon? For Nixon to get out and then not be indicted.

And Jaworski was very sensitive about this, because you may recall there was a lot of criticism about the arrangement with Vice President Agnew, in which he was allowed -- he was really indicted for bribery and a variety of other things, but he was allowed to plead no lo contendre to a tax evasion charge...
LAMB: Which meant what?
CALIFANO: I don`t contest it, which wasn`t (ph) a guilty finding, in return for his resigning as vice president.
LAMB: Do you think he was guilty, by the way?
CALIFANO: Agnew?
LAMB: Of taking money?
CALIFANO: Absolutely. Well, that`s the other piece. Let`s put...
LAMB: Yes.
CALIFANO: Brendan Sullivan -- in the middle of all of this, I`m home on Friday night, and the phone rings. It`s Brendan Sullivan, the hottest young lawyer in our law firm.
LAMB: Who turned out to be Ollie North`s lawyer later?
CALIFANO: Turned out to be Ollie`s...
LAMB: He`s the guy that said, I`m not -- what do you think I am, a potted plant?
CALIFANO: That`s right. He`s a bright young lawyer. And Brendan Sullivan calls and says, I have got to talk to you. We weren`t talking on the phone then, because we thought we might be bugged. So we go out on Brendan`s boat the next day. And he says, let me tell you something. A guy named Alan Greene came to see me yesterday. And he says he`s been giving money to the vice president, and -- when he was governor of Maryland, and even today, bringing him cash in brown paper bags. I said, oh, my God. And Brendan -- so now in addition to everybody else we`re representing, we`re representing -- the firm is representing this guy Alan Greene, who is the guy that brought down the vice president.

So I don`t think there ever was a law firm in a situation like that in the history of this country.
LAMB: In all through this, your marriage is starting to be in trouble.
CALIFANO: Yes. I mean, I...
LAMB: And you write about this in your book.
CALIFANO: I do write about it. The White House years took a fearful toll. I, you know, in a sense I was torn -- I was torn between, you know, I look back on it, between two goods. I mean, the good of the family and the good of the work we were doing, at least as I felt with those Great Society programs for the poor, and the black, and the indigent. And you know, I reached a point where I just had no relationship with my wife. We tried to restore it. We went on a trip around the world after the -- on a grant -- after the...
LAMB: That was one that was paid for by the Ford Foundation?
CALIFANO: Paid for by the Ford Foundation. That trip which, among other things, led to the requirement now that foundations spend 5 percent of their income a year. Wilbur Mills took care of that.
LAMB: And the fellow who was running the Ford Foundation, George Bundy, who you worked with in the White House.
CALIFANO: I worked with in the White House.
LAMB: OK, so you`re going around the world with Trudy, and...
CALIFANO: And we sort of got it back together a little bit, and we had another wonderful child, Claudia, our daughter, in 1971. Or 1970, I should say, 1970. And then, you know, when Ed and I became partners and I went into this -- we had this high-powered law practice, she really didn`t enjoy it. And we kept separating and separating and separating. And I went on a -- when I was at HEW (ph), it was 1979, it was a very tough year for me.

I went on this trip, fortuitously. I went to Poland and then to Rome and then to Jerusalem and then to Egypt. And going back through thousands of years of civilization, I began to think, you know, what am I doing? It just made me think about, you know, what small people we are in the large concept of the world. And I was miserable. And she was miserable. And we separated. And I never thought I would get married again.
LAMB: You got married again. You didn`t get married in the Catholic Church, because you were a divorced man.
CALIFANO: Right.
LAMB: And then you -- I want to ask you about this, because people who are not Catholic do not understand the annulment.
CALIFANO: OK.
LAMB: You`ve got a chapter here. You found a priest that says the following: He says -- he suggested to you, get your marriage annulled. And you said, how can I do that? I was married for more than 23 years before we separated, I`ve got three children. He said, don`t be so sure. The church is understanding. Especially if you were married young and didn`t fully understand at the time what marriage was all about. How old were you and your wife when you got married? I was 24. She was 22.

And you were successful in getting the annulment.
CALIFANO: Well, it was really quite -- you know, I was very skeptical, as the book indicates. I mean, I was very skeptical about the annulment. Father Madres (ph) was the priest up at St. Ignatius in New York, a Jesuit priest. And I went to see Sister Amadeus (ph), who was the nun at the archdiocese on First Avenue in Manhattan. And I really went to see her with trepidation. And she started to talk to me, and she said, look -- I sort of -- I didn`t feel whole with my church. I was receiving communion. Priests were giving me communion. And my conscience was clear, but I just didn`t feel whole with my church. And that was becoming important to me.

Sister Amadeus (ph) said, look, what the church looks at is whether or not you fully understood all the rights and obligations of married life at the time you entered into this. It`s not just a contract, it`s a covenant, and it requires an intellectual, spiritual and emotional understanding of the rights and obligations of marriage.

So with her I filled out all the papers. I was interviewed by a psychologist. In the first meeting with her -- you know, because I really was skeptical, I said, Sister, what does this cost? Because I said, you know, my view is, kid in Brooklyn, everything was -- you get an annulment, you have got to have big bucks. It`s for powerful Catholics. She said, $600. And I obviously looked surprised. She said, well, if you don`t have the $600, you can pay it in installments. And if you don`t have any money at all, your parish priest can write that you can`t afford to do it. I said, no, Sister, I have the $600. I was just surprised it was so little.

And I went and was examined by a psychologist. And then -- and then he made a report -- it was the only time I had ever been to a psychologist or a psychiatrist office in my life -- as a patient, in fact. And then I was interviewed under oath by a priest for the tribunal, monsignor, for a couple of hours. And you know, they then appoint somebody that represents you, saying -- saying, this marriage can be annulled. He did not understand these obligations at the time he got married. And then they have somebody represent the holy marriage together, yes, he did. The marriage shouldn`t be annulled.

Then they make a decision and then it gets reviewed on appeal. And then I was notified. And you know, people call it Catholic divorce. Whatever it is. It made a difference in my life. And I think it made a difference for my children. And I think it made a difference for my former wife. And I think it made a difference -- I mean, I think everybody was more at peace.
LAMB: Out of time. Over 500 pages. This is what the cover of the book looks like. Joe Califano, our guest. It`s called "Inside," a private professional and personal look at his life. Thank you very much for joining us.
CALIFANO: Thank you.


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