Record­ings re­veal fi­nal days of Nixon White House

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — Al­most a decade af­ter Richard Nixon re­signed, the dis­graced for­mer pres­i­dent sat down with his one-time aide and told the tale of his fall from grace in his own words.

For three decades, that ver­sion of one of the na­tion’s largest and most-dis­sected po­lit­i­cal scan­dals largely gath­ered dust — un­til this week.

Start­ing Tues­day, to com­mem­o­rate the 40th an­niver­sary of Nixon’s res­ig­na­tion, por­tions of the tapes will be pub­lished each day by the Nixon Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary & Mu­seum and the pri­vate Richard Nixon Foun­da­tion. The post­ings be­gin with Nixon re­call­ing the day he de­cided to re­sign and end Satur­day — the date of his last day in of­fice — with the 37th pres­i­dent dis­cussing his fi­nal day at the White House, when he signed the res­ig­na­tion agree­ment, gave a short speech and boarded a he­li­copter for San Cle­mente, Cal­i­for­nia.

The seg­ments were culled from more than 30 hours of in­ter­views that Nixon did with for­mer aide Frank Gan­non in 1983. The sec­tions on Water­gate aired pub­licly once, on CBS News, be­fore gath­er­ing dust at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia for more than 30 years.

“This is as close to what any­body is go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence sit­ting down and hav­ing a beer with Nixon, sit­ting down with him in his liv­ing room,” said Gan­non, now a writer and his­to­rian in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

“Like him or not, whether you think that his res­ig­na­tion was a tragedy for the na­tion or that he got out of town one step ahead of the sher­iff, he was a hu­man be­ing,” he said.

Nixon, who died in 1994, had hoped that pro­vid­ing his own nar­ra­tive would help tem­per Amer­ica’s fi­nal judg­ment of him.

Per­haps with that in mind, he didn’t shy away from the tough ques­tions, com­ment­ing on ev­ery­thing from the threat of im­peach­ment to the so-called “smok­ing gun” con­ver­sa­tion that in­cluded ev­i­dence he par­tic­i­pated in a Water­gate cover-up.

“This was the fi­nal blow, the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin. Although you don’t need another nail if you’re al­ready in the cof­fin — which we were,” Nixon said in a seg­ment about the June 23, 1972 tape.

Nixon said when he de­cided to re­sign, he faced such strong re­sis­tance from his wife that he brought a tran­script of the “smok­ing gun” tape to a fam­ily meet­ing to show her how bad it was.

AP Photo/Copy­right Raiford Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

In this June 10, 1983 frame grab of video made avail­able by Raiford Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Inc., for­mer pres­i­dent Richard Nixon talks about his 1974 res­ig­na­tion in a se­ries of in­ter­views con­ducted by for­mer White House aide Frank Gan­non in New York City. The Richard Nixon Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and the pri­vately held Nixon Foun­da­tion are co-re­leas­ing a trove of video­taped in­ter­views with the for­mer pres­i­dent to mark the 40th an­niver­sary of his res­ig­na­tion fol­low­ing the Water­gate scandal. The 28 min­utes of tape, de­tail­ing Nixon’s per­sonal tur­moil in his fi­nal week in of­fice, were culled from more than 30 hours of tape recorded in 1983.

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