Watergate break-in `silly,` Nixon told grand jury

Nixon also recounted how he became enraged when he learned about an 18.5 minute gap in a key tape recording.

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2011, 14:44 PM IST

Los Angeles: Disgraced former US President
Richard Nixon described the Watergate break-in which
eventually led to his resignation as "silly" and "incredible,"
in a grand jury testimony released here.

Nixon, speaking 10 months after being forced out of the
White House in 1974, also recounted how he became enraged when
he learned about an 18.5 minute gap in a key tape recording.

The details were included in the transcripts of two days
of grand jury testimony from June 1975, released by the Nixon
presidential library in California yesterday in response to a
legal challenge.

Nixon described his anger on learning that a long section
had been erased from an audio recording of a post-Watergate
White House meeting, which could have been key in showing what
he knew about the Watergate break in.

"I practically blew my stack," Nixon -- known as "Tricky
Dicky" -- said, before going on to question whether the tape
was needed to be handed over to investigators, as subject to a
subpoena.

Nixon resigned in August 1974 for his administration`s
role in a June 1972 burglary of the Democratic National
Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in the US
capital and the subsequent cover-up. He became the only US
president ever to do so.

In other testimony, the late ex-president, who died in
1994, lamented the actions of Patrick Gray, acting head of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who was initially in
charge of investigating the Watergate break-in.

"I believe it is tragic that at this time of this silly,
incredible Watergate break-in, he took the papers from Hunt`s
safe and burned them," he said, referring to Howard Hunt, one
of the White House "plumbers" who engineered the Watergate
break-in.

PTI