Richard Nixon, the disgraced US president at the heart of the Watergate scandal, told a grand jury "I practically blew my stack" when he discovered sections of taped White House conversations had been erased, newly released transcripts from the hearing have revealed.
The erased sections amounted to 18.5 minutes and have long been suspected of having been deliberately deleted to cover up incriminating knowledge about the notorious break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
Transcripts from the grand jury hearing in which Nixon appeared on 23 and 24 June 1975, were released yesterday after historian Stanley Cutler took legal action to have them made public. Usually grand jury evidence remains secret.
His secretary, Rose Mary Woods, was said to have accidentally deleted the recording of Nixon at the White House. The former president, giving evidence in 1975, said Ms Woods had thought four minutes had been erased but it turned out to be much longer.
"Rose had thought it was four minutes... and now the counsel have found that it is 18 and a half minutes, and I practically blew my stack," Nixon told the grand jury under questioning from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.