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Public Citizen Succeeds in Unsealing Nixon Grand Jury Testimony

Thirty-six years ago, former President Richard Nixon gave two days of testimony to a grand jury investigating Watergate and related wrongdoing. In July, the court granted Public Citizen's petition asking the court to unseal the transcript of that testimony so that historians and the public can read this important piece of history. The court's decision became final this week, when the government did not file an appeal.

Now, the transcript of Mr. Nixon’s testimony will become public. The National Archives and Records Administration has to process it for release, and that review process should be completed this Fall.

Public Citizen petitioned the court on behalf of Watergate historian Stanley Kutler, the American Historical Association, the American Society for Legal History, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists.

In eleven hours of testimony taken over two days in June 1975, Nixon answered questions about the infamous 18.5-minute gap, involvement in altering transcripts of tape recordings that were turned over to the House Judiciary Committee during its impeachment inquiry, use of the IRS to harass political enemies, and a $100,000 contribution from Howard Hughes.

Although grand jury records are routinely sealed, our court papers explained that Mr. Nixon’s testimony should be unsealed because of the extraordinary historical interest in Watergate and President Nixon’s legacy, and because the concerns that support secrecy of grand jury records no longer apply to this decades-old material.

Read more about the case.

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Allison M. Zieve
Director, Public Citizen Litigation Group

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