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Nixon’s Secret Watergate Testimony Released To Public

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A visitor attends a new permanent exhibition on Watergate on March 31, 2011 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

A visitor attends a new permanent exhibition on Watergate on March 31, 2011 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif. (credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS Washington/AP) — In long-secret testimony, Richard Nixon swore to grand jurors that the famous gap in a White House tape was merely an accident.

The 18½ missing minutes of a conversation between Nixon and his chief of staff were considered crucial in determining the president’s role in covering up the Watergate scandal that drove him from office. Under oath, after he left office, he was no help to investigators probing what was said during the gap.

The National Archives and its Nixon Presidential Library released a transcript of the testimony Thursday, a rare look inside grand jury proceedings.

Nixon told grand jurors that in his view, it was simply an accident that some of the tape got erased. He claimed “I practically blew my stack” when he found out how much.

During his deposition, the former president was concerned that his testimony would be “terribly damaging to the United States” if it was made public.

” … I will reveal for the first time information with regard to why wire taps were proposed, information which, if it is made public, will be terribly damaging to the United States.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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