Legal Experts Urge Release of Watergate Report to Offer Mueller a Road Map
WASHINGTON — A question has loomed over Washington: What will the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, do when he wraps up his investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia and whether President Trump obstructed justice?
The leading theory is that Mr. Mueller will write a report for his supervisor at the Justice Department. That could lead to a new fight: Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has suggested that the White House may then invoke executive privilege and order the Justice Department to keep portions of such a report confidential from Congress.
But there is historical precedent for another model. Echoing a move by the Watergate prosecutor in March 1974, the grand jury with which Mr. Mueller has been working could try to send a report about the evidence it has gathered directly to the House Judiciary Committee. And on Friday, seeking to draw more attention to that option, three prominent legal analysts asked a court to lift a veil of secrecy that has long kept that Watergate-era report hidden.
Specifically, the petition asks a judge to unseal a report that Leon Jaworski, the Watergate prosecutor, used to send Congress the evidence he had gathered about President Richard M. Nixon’s misconduct. Known as the “Road Map,” it was a 55-page index describing evidence and citing underlying testimony and tapes, but without any legal analysis or recommendations about whether Mr. Nixon committed an impeachable offense. While the Judiciary Committee had access to the Road Map, it has remained sealed from public view.
“This petition presents an extraordinarily compelling interest in disclosure arrayed against a vanishingly small countervailing interest,” the court filing said, noting that the Watergate players are mostly dead and that much of the evidence is already public. It added: “Not only does the Road Map carry immense historical significance in understanding the Watergate investigation, it provides a key precedent for assessing the appropriate framework for Special Counsel Mueller to report to Congress any findings of potentially unlawful conduct by President Trump.”