Judge orders partial release of Watergate report

Judge orders partial release of Watergate report

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the partial release of a report that that a federal grand jury sent in 1974 to the House Judiciary Committee that was a key part of the Watergate scandal that drove President Nixon from office.

Politico reported that Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell granted a request to unseal a large portion of the jury's findings, which includes evidence from witnesses as well as supporting documents into the Watergate break-in and Nixon’s involvement in a cover up. 

The request for the release was made by Stephen Bates, a University of Nevada journalism professor and former Whitewater investigation prosecutor; Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes. 

The three are interested in the report because they think it could provide more information on how Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski operated, which could then be useful for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is investigating the 2016 election. 

“The primary significance of the document … lies in its role as a kind of model or template for subsequent impeachment referrals, a model that, ironically, has never been available for study and emulation,” the three wrote in Lawfare last month. “If Mueller decides to send a report to Congress, perhaps through [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein, the Road Map would be a vital touchstone for the public and Congress to assess his actions.”

The request for the release was initially made in 2011 by Geoffrey Shepard, a California lawyer who was part of Nixon’s defense team during the Watergate scandal, according to Politico. That first request was rejected. 

“The central focus of my request is to know what prosecutors told the grand jury to convince them to adopt the road map as their own and to name Richard Nixon as a co-conspirator in the Watergate cover-up,” Shepard told Politico.