Washington: Richard Nixon`s grand jury
testimony about the scandal that destroyed his presidency
finally is coming to light.
Four months after a judge ordered the June 1975 Watergate
records unsealed, the US government`s Nixon Presidential
Library was making them available online and at the California
Historians dared hope that the testimony would form
Nixon`s most truthful and thorough account of the
circumstances that led to his extraordinary resignation 10
months earlier under threat of impeachment.
"This is Nixon unplugged," said historian Stanley Kutler,
a principal figure in the lawsuit that pried open the records.
Still, he said, "I have no illusions. Richard Nixon knew how
to dodge questions with the best of them. I am sure that he
danced, skipped, around a number of things."
Nixon was interviewed near his California home for 11
hours over two days, when a pardon granted by his successor,
Gerald Ford, protected him from prosecution for any past
Despite that shield, he risked consequences for perjury
if he had lied under oath.
It was the first time an ex-president had testified
before a grand jury and it is rare for any grand jury
testimony to be made public.
Historians won public access to the transcript over the
objections of the Obama administration, which argued in part
that too many officials from that era still are alive for
secret testimony involving them to be made public.
The library also is releasing thousands of pages of other
Watergate-era documents, several oral histories from that time
and 45 minutes of recordings made by Nixon with a dictating
The recordings include his dictated recollections of an
odd episode late one night in May 1970 when Nixon impulsively
had the Secret Service take him to the Lincoln Memorial so he
could meet anti-war protesters there.
He lingered with the astonished crowd and, according to
accounts of that time, asked the protesters to "keep it
peaceful. Have a good time in Washington, and don`t go away
On the grand jury testimony, US District Judge Royce
Lamberth sided with the historians in his ruling in July.