Nixon's Secret Watergate Testimony Ordered Released

A federal judge ordered that President Richard Nixon's sealed testimony to a grand jury during the Watergate scandal be released. The testimony's significance to American history was cited as the reason.

The request for the release came from Dr. Stanley Kutler, Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Kutler has written several books about Nixon, including, Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes.

Nixon resigned from the presidency on August 9, 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal. In the scandal, operatives from the Nixon White House broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C. Several Nixon officials were tried and convicted as a result of the scandal.

The House of Representatives has begun impeachment hearings when Nixon chose to resign. After Gerald Ford, Nixon's vice-president, became president, he pardoned Nixon for any crimes involving the Watergate scandal and Nixon was never charged with a crime.

Nixon's grand jury testimony took place on June 23-24, 1975, almost a year after Nixon had left office. “Watergate's significance in American history cannot be overstated,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote. He also noted its significance to scholars, saying it “would likely enhance the existing historical record, foster scholarly discussion and improve the public's understanding of a significant historical event.”

The testimony will not be released right away. The Justice Department under President Obama opposed the release, arguing that the privacy interests of individuals named in the testimony (some of whom still live) should take precedence. If the Justice Department appeals the ruling, release of the testimony will be delayed until the case is resolved.

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