Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Rick Perlstein; Richard Nixon | Go to book overview

29.
“I made clear there was to be no coverup”
(April 29, 1974)

On July 16, 1973, a White House aide revealed in con-
gressional testimony that Nixon tape-recorded every
word uttered in his various offices. Nixon then an-
nounced his refusal to turn the tapes over to Watergate
special prosecutor Archibald Cox. His explanation was
“executive privilege”—that no other governmental
agency had a right to hear advice given the president in
confidence. In the spring of 1974 the House Judiciary
Committee subpoenaed the tapes. Nixon claimed to be
honoring the subpoena by turning over his own tran-
scripts of the requested conversations, running to
twelve hundred pages. In doing so, he declared his in-
nocence, claiming the tapes exonerated him.

In this address, he gave his own, highly distorted
version of their contents, dwelling especially on those
moments he claimed showed he had no knowledge of
any cover-up until the spring of 1973—which was, in
reality, nine months after he began directing the cover-
up from the Oval Office. He twisted the charge against
him to reduce it to the single allegation—that he had
promised clemency to the defendants—and pointed to
moments where he had specifically refused to offer
clemency. These claims, however, did not survive the

-259-

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