[M]embers of the foundation thought they could still have a shrine to Nixon but have the government pay for it. They were wrong. In 2006 when NARA took over, the newly installed Archivist of the United States, Allen Weinstein, personally recruited Timothy Naftali to be the first director of the Nixon Library under federal management. Naftali and Weinstein agreed that the primary goal for the museum would be a detailed and historically accurate account of the Watergate events.It is Hufbauer who is wrong. As library director and Richard Nixon's co-executor, I conducted the negotiations with NARA along with Kathy O'Connor, Nixon's last chief of staff. Before the handover, we agreed that the Watergate exhibit would be replaced. For the first federal director, I recommended one name to deputy archivist Sharon Fawcett: Tim Naftali, Cold War historian and presidential tapes expert. Within days, she'd placed a call inviting him to be considered. Archivist Allen Weinstein told me later that my idea had been brilliant and that the same notion "had occurred to me."
After Naftali was named, I suggested to Fawcett and Weinstein, and they agreed, that Naftali should redo the Watergate exhibit rather than our trying to design one that would be acceptable to the government. Before NARA had even taken possession of the museum, Natftali asked my permission to tear out the old exhibit, which I granted.
Hufbauer's account was apparently informed solely by the Bob Haldeman revanchists who took over Nixon's foundation in the fall of 2009 after Naftali invited John Dean to give a speech (see here, here, and here), who battled him relentlessly over the Watergate exhibit, but who had no involvement in the handover negotiations with NARA.
Thanks to my sister blogger Maarja for sending me the article.
Photos: Nixon library handover ceremony, 2007: (f) Foundation chairman Don Bendetti and Archivist of the U.S. Weinstein; (b) Fawcett, Taylor, Naftali, and O'Connor. Right: Naftali and O'Connor