What Elder Christofferson took away from the Watergate trials and how it applies today

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clearly remembers the day he heard the Watergate tapes along with Judge John Sirica, the U.S. district judge who presided over the trials.

Speaking about his experience during “Integrity and Trust: Lessons from Watergate and Today,” an event held by the Deseret News on Monday, Jan. 14, at the Newseum in Washington D.C., Elder Christofferson said it was “a blow to the gut” when he first listened to the recordings.

“I remember the shock that both the judge and I felt in that moment,” he said. “We were so discouraged, we went home early that day. We had no heart to do anything else. We knew what would happen several months later.”

Joined by legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and president of the Pew Research Center Michael Dimock, Elder Christofferson explained how listening to the tapes at first shook him so much, he questioned his own career choice. However, while initially discouraged and disillusioned, the experience ultimately strengthened his convictions, the Deseret News reported.

“I resolved to be more committed to the teachings of my youth," Elder Christofferson said.

Here's the full discussion at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Adding that there’s danger when people think the rules don’t apply to them, the Apostle emphasized the value of accountability and integrity in society — both during the Watergate trials and in the world today.

“Watergate was an assault on the integrity of institutions that are crucial for society. But it didn’t have the ultimate effect of destroying them because good people, people of integrity, came to the fore and exercised their influence,” he said. “People who had integrity defended the institutions and the processes and our society, and I feel like we’re obligated in our time to be the same kind of people, to be the kind of people that we’re asking the rest of the world to be."

Read more about the discussions on Watergate on DeseretNews.com.