Judge orders release of Nixon Watergate testimony

By NEDRA PICKLER | July 29, 2011 | 12:13 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thirty-six years after Richard Nixon testified secretly to a grand jury investigating Watergate, a federal judge is ordering the first public release of the transcript.

But the 297-page transcript won't immediately be available because the government has an opportunity to appeal.

Nevertheless, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with historians who sued that the historical significance outweighs arguments for secrecy, with the investigations long over and Nixon dead 17 years.

Nixon was interviewed near his California home for two days in June 1975, 10 months after resigning. It was the first time a former U.S. president testified before a grand jury.

The historians say the testimony could address ongoing debate over Nixon's knowledge of the break-in at Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex and his role in the cover-up.