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Long-sealed 'Watergate Road Map' unsealed

By Danielle Haynes
Long-sealed 'Watergate Road Map' unsealed
After resigning office in August 1974, President Richard M. Nixon prepares to leave the White House. On Wednesday, the National Archives released long-sealed Watergate documents that indicate a grand jury wanted to indict the late president. File Photo by Ron Bennett/UPI

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The National Archives on Wednesday released the so-called "Watergate Road Map," a document that outlined former President Richard Nixon's efforts to cover up the break-in at Washington's Watergate Hotel.

Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski sent the grand jury report to the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 as an impeachment referral for Nixon. Though it offers little in the way of new information about the Watergate scandal, it had remained under seal until George Shepard -- a member of Nixon's defense team -- requested it be made public.

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Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell ordered the report to be unsealed earlier this month.

The report includes a two-page summary of the committee report, 53 statements and 97 supporting documents, as well as documents released previously.

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"There were no comments, no interpretations and not a word or phrase of accusatory nature. The 'Road Map' was simply that -- a series of guideposts if the House Judiciary Committee wished to follow them," Jaworski, who died in 1982, wrote in his 1976 memoir, The Right and the Power: The Prosecution of Watergate.

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The roadmap included a draft of an indictment accusing Nixon of bribery, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and obstruction of a criminal investigation. A member of the grand jury involved in the case said in 1982 that the panel informally voted to proceed with the indictment, but that Jaworski, who would have had to sign the indictment, refused.

The grand jury foreman said Jaworski fought against an indictment saying it would be traumatic for the country and that there was no legal precedent for indicting a sitting president.

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In addition to Shepard, journalism professor Stephen Bates, law professor Jack Goldsmith and Benjamin Wittes, editor of the national security website Lawfare requested the release of the report. They said it could inform special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential irregularities the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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