Some long-sealed Watergate documents may soon be released thanks to Professor Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central in Killeen, Texas.
Yahoo News reports that Nichter wrote to the chief judge of the federal court in Washington, asking that hundreds of pages of documents relating to the 1972 Watergate burglary be unsealed. The judge released their own letter, saying that the professor had “raised a very legitimate question” regarding whether or not the material should remain sealed. In his letter, the judge asked that the Department of Justice respond with any objections.
According to The Huffington Post, justice attorney Elizabeth Shapiro responded by filing a court document on Friday, saying the DOJ would not oppose releasing some of the documents. She wrote that:
“Forty years after the break-in at the Democratic National Committee that began the chapter of U.S. history known as Watergate, no good reason exists to keep sealed many of the judicial records created during the trial of the Watergate burglars.”
Shapiro did say, according to Yahoo News, that not all documents will be released, including three categories of documents, which must remain sealed. Those documents are those containing personal information, grand jury information, and documents about the content of illegally obtained wiretaps.
The documents Nichter wants access to includes records of at least two court hearings that were held behind closed doors, and also interviews and testimony given by Alfred Baldwin III. Baldwin was a former FBI agent, hired to listen to and transcribe conversations from a phone that the burglars wiretapped at the Democratic National Committee during their burglary on May 28, 1972. The burglars were apprehended when they attempted an additional break in on June 17, 1972.
The Huffington Post reports that Nichter believes the Department of Justice’s response is somewhat encouraging, and stated, “I’m obviously going to get something, but I don’t know what that something is.”
He is now in the process of contacting the original judge with information on how to proceed.