WASHINGTON — Three months before he resigned, a confident President Richard M. Nixon called Watergate "the thinnest scandal in American history" in a private tape-recorded conversation released for the first time Tuesday by the National Archives.
Most of the 4,467 tapes released Tuesday are of various public and official events recorded by the White House Communications Agency between Jan. 20, 1969, when Nixon became President, and Aug. 9, 1974, when he resigned under the prospect of impeachment and conviction on allegations he took part in the Watergate cover-up.
"If these charges on Watergate were true, nobody would have to ask me to resign--I wouldn't serve for one month," Nixon told Rabbi Baruch Korff on May 13, 1974. "But I know they are not true. Therefore I will stay here and do the job I was elected to do as well as I can and let the constitutional process make the final verdict."
The government seized the tapes after Nixon resigned.