YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Almost a decade after Richard Nixon resigned, the 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 — 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, Calif.
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.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more.