Nixon's Watergate Testimony To Go Public

Nixon's Watergate Testimony To Go Public

The secret grand jury testimony of US president Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal is to be released, more than 36 years after it took place.

US district judge Royce Lamberth said he was granting a request by historian Stanley Kutler and others because of the testimony's significance in American history.

Nixon was questioned in June 1975 over the political scandal resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington.

The scandal caused Nixon to leave office on August 9, 1974 - the only resignation of a US president.

It resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of a number of his top officials.

Judge Lamberth ruled that the special circumstances, especially the undisputed historical interest in Nixon's testimony, far outweighed the need to keep the records secret.

Grand jury proceedings typically remain secret.

"Watergate significance in American history cannot be overstated," Judge Lamberth wrote, adding that the scandal continues to attract both scholarly and public interest.

The US Justice Department opposed releasing Nixon's testimony, among its reasons being the privacy interests of individuals named in the testimony.

However, the judge said Nixon died 17 years ago, many other key figures had since died, and most of the surviving figures had already written, spoken or testified under oath about their involvement.

News reports at the time said Nixon answered questions about the 18-1/2 minute gap in a White House recording of his conversation with a top aide after the break-in.

He was also asked about altering White House tape transcripts turned over to the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment inquiry; using the Internal Revenue Service to harass political enemies, and a \$100,000 (£60,000) contribution from billionaire Howard Hughes.

Nixon's grand jury transcript will not be be released immediately because the government will be given time to decide whether to appeal.