Historical Document of the Day: Gerald Ford on Squeaky Fromme

The taped testimony of a president


Former Manson girl has a breakout solo hit.

Like so many elements of that unjustly neglected period of American history, the Ford years, Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore's successive attempts to kill the president have become historical also-rans. They don't get nearly as much attention as the other assassinations and attempted assassinations that grabbed the headlines from 1963 to 1981. Even the conspiracy theories about them are half-hearted: Search hard and you'll find people who think Nelson Rockefeller might have hired the shooters, but hardly anyone really seems to care. (Then there's Timothy Leary's grouchy suggestion that Fromme was inspired by her Bob Dylan records. But Leary later retracted that.)

Now one of the two assaults on Ford is back in the news. The Sacramento Bee reports that

a federal judge in Sacramento has allowed the release of a largely unseen relic of the Fromme assassination attempt: the videotaped testimony Ford gave that would later be used in her trial.

The 20 minutes of testimony, which Ford gave in room 345 of the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House on Nov. 1, 1975, was conducted at the request of Sacramento defense attorney John Virga and played for jurors during Fromme's trial.

The tape, which includes several minutes of audio discussion among lawyers and the judge before and after Ford's testimony, was later sealed and has been largely forgotten and removed from public view in the years since….

The release of the tape for widespread public viewing is the result of a motion filed last month by the Eastern District Historical Society, a 12-year-old nonprofit dedicated to preserving the history of the federal court based in Sacramento.

The society petitioned U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller for the tape's release "to preserve the historically significant deposition."

Naturally, the testimony is now on YouTube. I've embedded it below: