Historians want Nixon grand jury testimony opened

Richard Nixon was interviewed in California for 11 hours on June 23-24, 1975.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2010, 15:52 PM IST

Washington: Thirty-five years after Richard Nixon testified secretly to a grand jury investigating Watergate, a group of historians has launched a legal bid to make public what the president said under oath about the break-in that drove him from office.

Nixon was interviewed near his home in San Clemente, California, for 11 hours on June 23-24, 1975, 10 months after he resigned. It was the first time a former US president had testified before a grand jury, but the 297-page transcript remains sealed from the public.

The historians have filed a petition before Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of US District Court in Washington arguing the historical significance outweighs arguments for secrecy with the investigations long over and Nixon dead for 16 years.

They argue that unsealing the interview could help clarify matters still under debate about Nixon`s knowledge of the break-in at Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington and his role in the effort to prevent the crime from being tied to the White House.

Five burglars, one of whom said he formerly worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committed on June 17, 1972, apparently to install clandestine electronic monitoring devices.

The burglary led to evidence of widespread wrongdoing within the Nixon White House and the eventual demise of the administration with Nixon`s resignation on August 08, 1974.

PTI