It was a time where it was hard for people to believe we were talking about a president doing all sorts of crazy things like ordering break-ins and asking how much it would cost to pay people off who worked in the Watergate building … which seems pretty unbelievable today but back in those days they were doing atrocious things.
The Senate Watergate Committee kind of brought it to life.
DTH: So you served the subpoena to President Nixon. Is that correct?
RE: I certainly did.
DTH: Can you describe what that was like?
RE: Oh my goodness, I will never forget it — it is the day I will remember the most.
It was a very electrifying day. The whole country was riveted on Watergate because there was no such thing as Internet or cable TV — the three main networks were the only TV channels, and they carried the Watergate hearings every day, not the soap operas.
That was the first time a committee of the Congress had subpoenaed the president — you just didn’t do that.
So obviously I made the request of the Senate to serve the subpoena. Human nature leads us to do some things some times that we know will be historic.
So I remember I was escorted down there. There are a lot of pictures. It looks like they were taking me to jail.
And when I finally got there, it was at the old executive building right beside the White House. We had called ahead to let them know we were coming and to receive us was the president’s counsel.
So I served the subpoena and they went and made copies … I brought the copies back, and it was the strangest thing — about five years ago my wife was rummaging through some boxes in the attic that said “Watergate” and found that subpoena — well, it was the original.
From that time on, I knew that the subpoena was going to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Southern (Historical) Collection. That’s where it belonged.
Do you think I would give it to Duke (University)? That’s where Nixon went to law school.
DTH: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
RE: I am just very happy about Carolina, and this is something that I can do that leaves a lasting impact.
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