On this day in 1977, British journalist David Frost interviews former President Richard Nixon.
In the televised interview, Nixon answered questions regarding the Watergate scandal and his resignation, admitting that he had let the American people down through his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary and cover-up. The ensuing investigation exposed rampant corruption in his administration and led to his resignation in 1974.
Oddly, by 1977, despite damning evidence to the contrary, Nixon still did not believe that he had tried to obstruct justice, one of the impeachment charges made against him by Congress in 1974. He told Frost, I didn’t think of it as a cover-up. I didn’t intend a cover-up. Let me say, if I intended the cover-up, believe me, I would have done it. Nixon also admitted that he had not thought that the White House tape recordings regarding the scandal would come out. It was the release of White House tape recordings subpoenaed by the Watergate investigation committee in 1973 that implicated Nixon in the cover-up and prompted him to resign in the face of impeachment. Nixon also told Frost that the day he resigned was the first time I cried since Eisenhower died.
Richard Nixon died in 1994. In 2002, Frost shared his memories of his Nixon interview on Larry King Live. Frost recalled that he and Nixon met at the former president’s office in San Clemente, California, and engaged in small talk before doing the interview. Frost remembered bringing up the name of Nixon’s 1970s rival, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, to which Nixon replied oh, I wouldn’t want to be a Russian leader. They never know when they’re being taped.” Frost also characterized the former president as impersonal and lonely. He so wanted to be great said Frost, but he was a sad man at the end.