Nixon estate nears deal for his papers Government would pay multimillion-dollar price


WASHINGTON -- The government is negotiating to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement to the the estate of former President Richard M. Nixon for his White House papers and records, administration officials said yesterday.

Under proposals that could bring to a close a 20-year legal struggle, the estate could relinquish control of the Nixon Library at Yorba Linda, Calif., to the National Archives, which would manage the library.

The efforts to reach an agreement would not affect the complicated set of deadlines and restrictions that limits public access to the materials.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the government and lawyers for the Nixon estate had reached a tentative deal that would pay the estate $26 million for the papers.

Some officials said yesterday that negotiations were under way but that the amount to be paid to the estate had yet to be determined. Many details remained to be settled, they said.

"There might be a deal in 10 months; there might be no deal," one government representative said. "There are many parties, and this is very complicated."

A range of uncertainties could thwart any agreement, among them whether representatives of the National Archives would be satisfied that it would have adequate control over the materials.

Another unresolved issue is whether the Nixon estate might be liable for taxes on the government payment.

It has been known that the government would pay for the papers since a federal appeals court ruled in 1992 that Nixon, "like every other president before him, had a compensable property interest in his presidential papers."

No modern president has been paid for his papers, although some have taken large tax deductions for donating them to the public.

All presidential papers and other materials seized by the government in 1974, after Nixon's resignation, would be sent to the Nixon presidential library in California under the tentative agreement described yesterday by the Post.

Pub Date: 4/06/97

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