Rep Speier Releases Watergate Documents; Court Remedy Could Protect Mueller Documents
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) released Watergate documents showing that a court remedy could be available to protect documents and evidence secured by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump.
“President Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, I fear, is a blatant attempt to scuttle Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the President. It is an incredibly dangerous move in this President’s slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre and the stakes are just as high and the consequences are just as dire as they were when President Nixon plunged our country into a constitutional crisis nearly 50 years ago.
We must not forget that the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre would have succeeded had it not been for the quick action of the staff of the Special Prosecutor’s office rejecting Nixon’s demand for personal loyalty above duty to country. Faced with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate, Nixon bowed to public and political pressure to appoint an attorney general that was not one of his cronies after two of his AGs were forced to resign because of their roles in the Watergate scandal. But that didn’t stop Nixon from trying to block Attorney General Elliot Richardson and the Justice Department’s Watergate Special Prosecution Force that Richardson created and that was led by Archibald Cox.
It all came to a head when Nixon demanded Richardson fire Cox to deflect from the White House’s violation of a court order to turn over secretly-recorded conversations. Richardson resigned his post rather than violate the court order and shirk his constitutional duty. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned shortly thereafter in protest, and before then-Solicitor General Robert Bork became the Acting Attorney General and fired Cox. But the ‘Massacre’ didn’t stop there. The White House first ordered the FBI to ‘seal’ the Special Prosecutors office. The next day, Bork ordered the FBI to withdraw and instead placed the U.S. Marshals in control of the office. The day after that, Bork changed his mind again and pulled the U.S. Marshals out and ordered the Federal Protections Service to provide security ‘under the direction of the acting attorney general.’
That prompted the remaining staff of the Special Prosecutors office to ask the Federal District Court to preserve the integrity of the records. The District Court immediately entered an order protecting the records by placing them in the custody of the Court itself. Prior to that action, Nixon’s henchmen had complete control of the records and could have destroyed them were it not for the prompt action of the Special Prosecutor’s staff.
We could be in a similar situation today, with a trove of documents gathered by Special Counsel Mueller. Like Nixon, President Trump regularly forces government officials to choose between fealty to him or the rule of law. We must not leave anything to chance. The documents I have attached here and here show that the staff of the Special Counsel could and should protect the evidence by acting now.”