Students Launch Nixon Grand Jury Testimony Website
G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted for the Watergate break-in 39 years ago this past January. President Nixon’s resignation and grand jury investigation which followed thrust baby boomers and later generations into the “post Watergate era.” A group of American University students fascinated by the scandal produced a website: Nixon Detached for “Watergate: A Constitutional Crisis,” a class offered at American University’s School of Public Affairs each fall, taught by adjunct professor Don Fulsom, a former White House correspondent and a Washington bureau chief for United Press International who covered the Watergate scandal. Fulsom is also the author of the just released, Nixon's Darkest Secrets: The Inside Story of America's Most Troubled President (St. Martin’s Press, January 2012).
During the fall semester, Fulsom’s students pored over Nixon’s unsealed grand jury testimony which had just been released. “The release of this new material provided a perfect opportunity for a class research project,” said Avi McClelland, a student in the class and the coordinator for the project whose findings can be found at www.nixondetached.com.
A blend of intellectual curiosity, learning from leaders, and perhaps a little cynicism about government led the students to conduct a scholarly analysis of Nixon’s 1975 grand jury testimony. Nixon Detached includes background research and commentary from the students and Professor Fulsom. The students divided the 297-page transcripts among themselves to identify new details and obtain insights into Nixon’s presidency and persona. Greg Martin, one of the student researchers, observed, “Nixon seemed willing to cooperate with prosecutors, but was well-prepared for the testimony and evaded many of the grand jury’s questions with ‘I don’t recall’ responses.” Martin quipped, “It’s classic Nixon.”
Watergate experts also participated in the project at the students’ request providing commentary on the grand jury testimony. Stanley Kutler (American historian who won the release of the Watergate tapes), Dr. Luke Nichter (founder, Nixontapes.org), former plumber Bud Krogh, and journalists from the Watergate era each participated in the project.
Fulsom gives the students all the credits for taking the initiative and time to developing the website which does not merely provide a link to the grand jury testimony but also context through the students’ research and commentary from experts.