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Watergate Grand Jury Report to Congress Goes Public, Setting Precedent for Mueller Report

On October 31st, the Watergate grand jury’s report and recommendation to the House Judiciary Committee, known as the “Road Map,” became publicly available with limited redaction here after 44 years under seal.  

STATEMENT OF PROTECT DEMOCRACY COUNSEL DEANA EL-MALLAWANY

The Road Map illustrates how the three branches of government work together to ensure accountability and transparency for those in power, including the President.  The Watergate Special Prosecution Force used the Road Map, with court approval, to transmit the facts uncovered in its grand jury investigation to Congress. It was Congress that held the power to hold President Nixon accountable and to do so publicly.  For that reason, the Road Map is a critical historical precedent for ensuring that the facts uncovered in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation become public and serve as the basis for whatever accountability is necessary. Our democracy depends on it.

Background

The Road Map’s unsealing was prompted by a lawsuit filed last month by Protect Democracy on behalf of Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, and Stephen Bates, leading experts on executive power.  Their petition argued, in part, that many of the facts reported in the Road Map had already become public through the congressional investigations that the Road Map precipitated.  A federal court in D.C. ordered the National Archives and Records Administration to release the Road Map to the extent its contents existed elsewhere in the Watergate public record.  The court has yet to decide whether to unseal the portions of the Road Map that contain information that has not yet become public.

Wittes, Goldsmith, and Bates petitioned to unseal the Road Map because of its historical value as the last critical piece of Watergate history under seal and because of its contemporary significance as a precedent for Mueller as he concludes his investigation. Read their article on Lawfare here and the New York Times’ coverage of the lawsuit here.  

Protect Democracy has been leading broader efforts to ensure that the American people are able to know and understand what happened in the 2016 election.  We have filed a lawsuit on behalf of former DNC staffers against the Trump Campaign for its role in distributing their hacked, private information worldwide as part of a calculated political strategy.  We are also working with a coalition to protect the Mueller investigation from politicized attacks and to ensure that Mueller’s findings are transparent and lead to accountability.