Wednesday 18 October 2017

I was grateful for Nixon's advice, says Bill Clinton

Jon Swaine in Washington

disgraced former president Richard Nixon spent time during the last weeks of his life quietly advising Bill Clinton, according to newly declassified documents.

Mr Nixon, the only president to have resigned from office, counselled Mr Clinton on American foreign policy after the end of the Cold War and offered to act as his go-between with Russia.

An exhib-ition opening today at the Nixon Presiden-tial Library in California features documents and memos detailing his relations with the White House after Mr Clinton took office in 1993.

In a video message recorded for the library, Mr Clinton recalls seeking the advice of his predecessor at a time when many Americans were tempted to say: "We've had enough of the world."

"President Nixon knew we had to continue to reach out to old friends and to old enemies alike," says Mr Clinton in the clip. "He knew America could not quit the world."

Eighteen years after his resignation following the Watergate scandal, Mr Nixon wrote to Mr Clinton to congratulate him on his hard-fought presidential election victory over President George HW Bush.

"In enduring that ordeal you have demonstrated you have the character to lead not just America but the forces of peace and freedom in the world," he wrote.

Once Mr Clinton took office, four years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he found himself rethinking America's outward stance "in a world growing ever more interdependent and yet ungovernable", he says.

In Mr Nixon he found advice from an elder statesman who won plaudits while in the White House for thawing relations with China and made several visits to Russia.

Mr Clinton's wife, Hillary, helped bring down Mr Nixon as a junior lawyer for a House of Representatives committee that considered his impeachment after Watergate, in which the Nixon White House tried to cover up the burglary of a Democratic party office by operatives for his re-election campaign. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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