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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Christofferson speaks at Oxford about his role in Watergate scandal

By Carole Mikita  |  Posted Jun 15th, 2017 @ 10:47pm



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OXFORD, England — A unique time in modern American political history took center stage at England's famed Oxford University on Thursday.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke there about his role in investigating the Watergate scandal.

Elder Christofferson stepped into historic Christ Church College at Oxford University and also stepped back in time as he described a defining moment in his life.

Before becoming a church leader, Elder Christofferson was an attorney.

In 1974, Elder Christofferson was the clerk for U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica who ultimately ruled that President Nixon should turn over the recordings of White House conversations about the Watergate scandal.

"He (Sirica) said to me on one occasion, 'I hope you appreciate this. Not many law clerks get an experience like this,’” Elder Christofferson said. “Then he paused and said, 'Not many judges do either,' and then he smiled.”

A young Christofferson and Judge Sirica were the first ones outside the White House to hear President Nixon's secret Watergate tapes. On the tapes they heard the president ask how much money it would take to keep the Watergate burglars quiet.

Elder Christofferson told an audience of students, faculty and guests that what happened during Watergate was shocking, surprising and a tragedy. He said was proud of Judge Sirica’s integrity.

"When you don't resolve things when they're small, they grow and become more complex and difficult, or they can, and sometimes the efforts to avoid dealing with it turned out to be worse than the original crime or misstep.”

The Watergate burglars were indicted in Judge Sirirca’s courtroom. After that, Christofferson delivered a 50-page grand jury report that revealed President Nixon’s role that eventually led to his resignation.

Elder Christofferson said his involvement with investigating Watergate proved to be an invaluable life lesson.

On Saturday, June 17, MSNBC will air a special at 9 p.m. called "All the President's Men Revisited," in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.

Carole Mikita
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