Department of Justice Seal



MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2000

(202) 514-2007


TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, DC - The government has reached a settlement agreement to pay former President Richard Nixon's estate $18 million for his presidential papers, tape recordings and other materials, the Justice Department announced today. In 1992, a federal court of appeals had ruled that the estate was entitled to be paid the fair value of those materials. The Nixon family at one point had asked that the papers be sold to the United States for up to $35 million plus 25 years of interest, which would have brought the asking price to more than $200 million.

"It's our belief that presidential papers belong to all the American people," said David W. Ogden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division. "This settlement brings to a close 20 years of litigation surrounding President Nixon's papers. Given the Court of Appeals decision, this is a fair resolution for the American taxpayer."

The Nixon papers and tapes were acquired by the government under a law enacted by Congress in 1974, to prevent the destruction of any "Watergate" related material. In 1978 Congress enacted the Presidential Records Act to ensure that the papers of all future Presidents are the property of the American public. The Nixon papers are located and will remain at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.

In 1991, the federal district court in Washington, D.C. agreed with the government that the materials were not Mr. Nixon's private property, but that decision was overturned a year later by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which sent the case back for a determination of how much the 44 million documents, 950 secret tapes, and other materials were worth. Last year, after a five-month trial, the district court took the matter under advisement.