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M. Charles Hill Executive Assistant to George Shultz

Nicholas Platt Executive Secretary to State Department

Two Department of State officials were responsible for taking notes on Secretary of State George Shultz’s meetings and conversations: Nicholas Platt, the department’s executive secretary, and M. Charles Hill, who served as Shultz’s executive assistant. Hill was also Shultz’s confidant and adviser. However, when investigators requested their notes, they provided incomplete versions.

Their questionable conduct began when Attorney General Edwin Meese III wrote a letter to Shultz in November 1986 telling him to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation all material “including, but not limited to, all memoranda, briefing materials, minutes, handwritten notes, diaries, telephone logs, … files and other documents of the…State Department, … from 1 January 1985 to the present, concerning the following:
1. All arms activities involving Iran;
2. All hostage negotiations or similar communications involving arms as an inducement;
3. All financial aid activities involving the Nicaraguan resistance movement which are related to Iran or Israel; [and]
4. All activities of Robert C. McFarlane, … Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter … relating to 1-3 above.”

Hill provided some of his and Platt’s notes to FBI agents. When, the following April, Walsh’s office specifically requested Hill’s and Platt’s notes on Iran arms sales since 1983, they were given additional pages. Their documents “included copies of excerpts from 34 pages of [Hill’s] own notebooks and five excerpted notes by Platt. A second set of documents consists of excerpted Platt notes.”

During his investigation of other State Department officials and CIA agents, Walsh asked to review Hill’s and Platt’s notebooks. Shultz was not the subject of this investigation. But when Walsh read through their original notes, he realized that Shultz’s testimony and the notes did not match up, and that many of the original omissions in earlier documents provided by Hill and Platt corresponded with Shultz’s incorrect testimony. The missing documents were also highly relevant to the earlier document requests that had been made.

Hill claimed that he had never been told to review all of his notes and he had never done so. He stated that he looked at his notes not to bolster Shultz's memory before testifying, but to support Shultz’s recollections. However, he did know that those preparing Shultz’s testimony had relied greatly on his incomplete notes. Moreover, Shultz had told all of his employees to locate all of their relevant notes, not just those that supported his memory. Both Hill and Platt particularly struggled to explain omitting the details surrounding the release of hostage Father Lawrence Jenco, which they knew was connected to the sale of arms. However, because Walsh did not plan on prosecuting Shultz, he felt it would be inappropriate to prosecute a subordinate whose conduct was directly connected to Shultz’s testimony.

Platt’s behavior was somewhat less questionable. Platt’s notes were less complete and organized than Hill’s, and he was not involved in drafting Shultz’s testimony.