Nightly News | November 10, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Some of Richard Nixon 's secrets are being revealed tonight for the first time . You're about to hear his voice and learn what he said under oath to the grand jury investigating his presidency after he'd already resigned, part of a trove of material released today. Our justice correspondent Pete Williams has more on the new tapes including Nixon 's own description of a strange pre-dawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial .
President RICHARD NIXON: I want all the people of the administration...
PETE WILLIAMS reporting: It was one of the oddest moments in Richard Nixon 's presidency, May 1970 . After sleeping only a few hours he got up at 4 AM , listened to a little Rachmaninoff in the Lincoln sitting room, then slipped out of the White House with just three Secret Service agents and headed to the Lincoln Memorial . Students there were stunned to see him show up where they were protesting the Vietnam War . He dictated a memo about it.
Pres. NIXON: My goals in Vietnam were the same as theirs, to stop the killing and the war, to bring peace. One spoke up and said, "I hope you realize that we're willing to die for what we believe in." End, close quote. I said, 'I certainly realize that.'
P. WILLIAMS: With nervous agents urging him to leave, he grew philosophical about solving the nation's problems.
Pres. NIXON: I said candidly and honestly that I didn't have the answer, that I knew that young people today were searching, as I was searching 40 years ago.
P. WILLIAMS: Also released today, secret transcripts of Richard Nixon 's testimony to a federal grand jury 10 months after he resigned the presidency. He described his reaction at learning that a White House tape of a critical meeting about the Watergate scandal contained a gap, a buzz lasting 18 and a half minutes. Quote, "I practically blew my stack," Nixon testified, adding "I don't know how it happened." His secretary Rosemary Woods insisted she accidentally triggered the eraser on the tape recorder while stretching across to answer the phone. "She is deeply religious," Nixon told investigators. "She would never lie to me and I believe her." Historians hope today 's release will make it easier to get secret but historically important documents like these in the future. Pete Williams , NBC News, Washington.