Legal History

Newly released presentence reports for Watergate burglars detail their motive

Additional records related to the Watergate break-in have been released as a result of a federal judge’s recent ruling.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered release of the records, filed under seal during the 1970s criminal trial of seven men involved in the Watergate burglary, according to the Associated Press and a press release by the National Archives and Records Administration.

It’s the second batch of records released as a result of Lamberth’s orders. The National Archives released about 950 pages of records in the criminal case against the Watergate burglars in November after a Nov. 2 ruling by Lamberth. At that time, the judge did not grant access to presentence records of living individuals. In a May 13 order, Lamberth unsealed those records, too, finding that the public interest in the historical record outweighs the individual privacy interests.

The new records include presentence reports for four of the five Watergate burglars, and information on how they were recruited, according to the AP story. The defendants, who had ties to Cuba, say they were told to look for evidence that the Cuban government was funding Democratic political campaigns. The men all said they believed their work was part of an officially sanctioned government operation.

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