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Judge releases President Ford’s 1975 video testimony on attempted assassination

Gerald Ford
Screen capture from The Sacramento Bee

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On Monday, a federal judge in California released the 1975-videotaped testimony of then-President Gerald Ford describing the assassination attempt that would send Charles Manson disciple, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, to prison for life.

The Sacramento Bee published the 38-year-old video documenting the very first oral testimony in history given by a sitting president in a criminal case.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme
Screen Capture via The Sacramento Bee.

Ford’s Nov. 1, 1975 testimony recalled how Fromme, 26, approached him in Washington on Sept. 5, 1975 holding a Colt .45-pistol as the president greeted bystanders on his way in to a meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Bee reported that Fromme never fired a round, but was subdued by Ford’s Secret Service protection detail.

Ford’s testimony was shown to the jury on Nov. 15, 1975. “That day, four 25-inch color televisions were brought in from McClellan Air Force Base to play the tape for a jury of eight women and four men and a courtroom jammed with reporters and spectators,” the article said.

According to the Bee:

The case was the first in history featuring oral testimony from a sitting president in a criminal trial, and Ford calmly described seeing a woman in a bright red dress and thinking she was drawing near to shake his hand.

“My first impression was that she wanted to come closer and extend – I thought at the time – a hand to shake, or to say something to me,” Ford says on the tape.

Then, he said, he noticed the gun, adding that “the weapon was large.”

Fromme was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the assassination attempt. She was released in 2009 and now lives in Utica, N.Y, the Bee reported.

More from The Sacramento Bee.

Ford’s testimony begins at the four-minute mark and is approximately 20-minutes long.

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