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Nixon's Watergate testimony may be unveiled

Former president Richard Nixon is shown in this undated file photo.

July 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
After 36 years, we may finally get to read Richard Nixon's secret grand jury testimony about the Watergate break-in.

A federal judge has sided with historians and ruled that 297 pages of the former president's testimony should be made public.

Nixon was interviewed about the scandal in June 1975, 10 months after he resigned the presidency. It was the first time a former U.S. president testified before a grand jury - Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to do so during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.

At the time of his testimony, Nixon could not be prosecuted for conduct related to Watergate because he had been pardoned by President Gerald Ford. Ten days after Nixon testified, the grand jury was dismissed without making any indictments based on what he told them.

The Obama administration may decide to appeal the ruling to protect the privacy of the Watergate figures who are still living.

Historians, however, say that the historical significance outweighs arguments for secrecy since the investigations are long over and Nixon has been dead 17 years. 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.