Federal authorities released on Wednesday a long-secret grand jury "road map" of Watergate evidence that prompted President Richard Nixon's 1974 resignation — and could provide a precedent for the current investigation of President Trump by a special counsel.

robert mueller waving armThe National Archives released the documents following recent litigation before a federal judge by scholars who successfully argued that the grand jury's 1974 work is too important to remain secret, especially in view of current investigation of the Trump Administration by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director shown in a file photo.

The road map is here. It consists of a two-page summary with 53 numbered statements. The statements are supported by 97 documents, such as interviews and tapes.

District Judge Beryl A. Howell, chief judge of the District of Columbia court, ordered release of the report prepared under the supervision of then-Independent Counsel Leon Jaworski and then-Chief Judge John J. Sirica.

nara logoThe report is known as the “Sirica road map” because Sirica approved the report's creation and transmission to lawmakers. The judge regarded such transmission as the best solution to the knotty but rare constitutional problem of what prosecutors should do with extensive grand jury evidence suggesting probable cause that a president committed serious crimes.

Such evidence is normally used to indict a suspect, who is then brought to a criminal trial. Courts have not tested whether a sitting president could be criminally tried and sentenced while in office outside of the impeachment process provided by the U.S. Constitution.

leon jaworskiJaworski, shown at right on a Time cover, and his predecessor, Archibald Cox, had developed evidence sufficient to indict more than 50 persons associated with the Nixon administration and/or the cover-up of the Watergate break-in during the 1972 presidential campaign. Washington, DC police arrested  operatives burglarizing the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in the city.

Federal prosecutors finessed the constitutional issue of whether a president can be indicted in office by passing their "Sirica road map" developed with grand jury information to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The committee used the materials to begin drafting articles of impeachment against Nixon that citing his administration's actions in covering up Watergate-related crimes by additional crimes, such as obstructing justice.

Nixon resigned office after fellow Republicans advised him that he could no longer count on enough GOP support to thwart an impeachment vote in the House conviction in the U.S. Senate after a trial of charges brought by the House.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)Mueller, a "special" counsel slightly different than the "independent" counsel during the Watergate or Kenneth Starr's "Whitewater" probes of President Clinton and his administration during the 1990s, has functioned in somewhat similar fashion by amassing evidence much like the plea deals or other inducements to obtain evidence against Trump (shown in a Pentagon photo), his administration personnel and their allies.

Mueller's probe began with a focus on suspected Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election but has expanded to cover a number of arguably related topics, including potential obstruction of justice in covering up evidence and otherwise seeking to thwart investigation.

A significant part of the Watergate materials became public via criminal trials and other proceedings in the 1970s but some material was restricted because of the traditional secrecy of grand jury materials.

Geoffrey Shepard, a California lawyer who once worked for Nixon, years ago sought release of the materials via litigation before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, beryl howellDC. But the case languished until a team of three legal experts filed a parallel action two months ago that led the Howell, the chief judge (shown at right), to assume control of the litigation and move for prompt release via the Archives.

The three scholars, as described in their pleadings and commentaries, were Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes; Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard University law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush; and Stephen Bates, a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, who co-wrote the Starr report with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh years before Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.     

Wittes, Goldsmith and Bates published reports about their litigation on the blog Lawfare, an influential DC site co-founded by Wittes, a former Washington Post editorial board member who last year called for Trump's impeachment. The reports are excerpted below, as are such other commentaries as a Washington Post news story Wednesday by Spencer Hsu, U.S. archivists release Watergate report that could be possible ‘road map’ for Mueller.

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

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Three Americans who have visited Syria multiple times amid the ongoing civil war provided detailed briefings this month to the McClendon Group at a special dinner presentation at the National Press Club.

The speakers presented their observations about the people, the government, and the civil war in Syria that differ sharply with mainstream media accounts in Western and Gulf monarchy-controlled news media.

The presentation, “Syria: Three Personal Accounts,” was delivered on Oct. 12 to nearly 30 attendees of the McClendon Group, a speaker society that presents alternative views of important issues. It is named for the late White House correspondent Sarah McClendon

janice korthkamp richard black carla ortiz img 5490Speakers were: Virginia State Senator Richard Black, an attorney with a long military background in the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps; Carla Ortiz a Bolivian-born film documentary maker and film star who is a naturalized U.S. citizen; and Janice Kortkamp, an American who describes herself as a "housewife" who felt obligation to learn more about the war-torn nation.

The adjoining photo shows the three, with Ortiz on the right.

They gave first-hand reports of their experiences with the Syrian people, the Bashir al Assad government, and the civil war.

Each speaker offered a unique and deeply personal account of their on-the-ground experiences, traveling around Syria, interviewing people from all backgrounds and walks of life (including many internally displaced persons), and meeting with military and humanitarian group officials.

First to speak was Black, who has visited Syria twice since 2014. He noted that his engagement in a personal effort to bring an end to the war began with a letter he sent to President Bashir al Assad. The letter thanked Assad for the Syrian military’s defense and rescue of the Christian communities in Syria from the brutal terrorists’ torture and murders victimizing that religious community.

wesley clark oBlack gave a long-term overview of the war in Syria. He noted that as far back as 2001 the Pentagon was planning for regime change in Syria.

Black cited for this  the statements of former U.S. Army General Wesley Clark — former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), shown at right in a file photo — that he had been told by high level U.S. officials of plans for regime change in Syria as one of governments in seven Middle East countries that were to be overthrown by a U.S.-led effort. One of Clark's widely viewed video clips of his recollection is here.

Black also gave details of reports of U.S. smuggling weapons from the regime change effort in Libya in 2011 to Syria directly into the hands of jihadi groups, including Al Qaeda, to overthrow President Assad.

In pursuing this war with these allies, Black said, the U.S. adopted an “empire” policy that is alien to the nation’s true interests and which is aiding the same terrorists carla ortiz ghoutathat attacked the U.S. on 9/11.

Following him was Ortiz, an internationally known actress, producer and philanthropist. Born in Bolivia, she began her acting career at age 15.

After achieving stardom in Latin America and Hollywood, she turned to documentary filmmaking and has produced several documentaries on the plight of the victims of the Syrian war. She has spentg much of the past two years on the ground in Syria visiting some of the most devastated war zones.

She is shown with a child in Douma [aka Ghouta] in May 2018 shortly after Syrian government forces offered reconciliation deals to rebels or transported them north to rebel-held territory following years of rebel occupation of Douma and bombardment of civilian populations of nearby Damascus.

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The U.S. Supreme Court helped launch the Brett Kavanaugh era on Oct. 10 by curtailing the voting of Native Americans in North Dakota, where a tight Senate race threatens a Democrat who voted against Kavanaugh's recent confirmation.

brett kavanaugh white house promoThe court enabled a new state rule barring voters who use for election purposes Post Office boxes instead of street addresses. Many Native Americans living on reservations use only PO Boxes and have heavily supported Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, below, the incumbent Democrat who is now an underdog in her race.

heidi heitkamp oThe court's refusal to intervene follows its recent practice of avoiding review for the most part of voter suppression and gerrymandering efforts by Republican state officials who have taken major steps recently to reduce voter registrations and polling place en masse in ways that heavily disadvantage Democrats in November.

In the North Dakota case, five votes were needed from the nine justices. Kavanaugh, shown in a White House-promoted political-type photo of a kind unusual for a sitting justice, did not participate for unexplained reasons, presumably because of his busy schedule getting installed onto the court.

Several columns this week describe a looming legal crisis regarding election-rigging in next month's elections and beyond.

Update: Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who documented for the BBC in 2001 how Republicans had stolen the 2000 presidential election by eliminating the names of more than 100,000 suspected Democrats from voter rolls (and not by the few ballots with hanging "chads" described by the American media), published several investigations regarding secret cutbacks in 2018 voter rolls by Republican secretaries of state seeking to tilt next month's elections.

For example, he wrote for Truthout in GOP’s Brian Kemp Purged 1 in 10 Georgia Voters: I’ve Got the Names. "My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished," Palast began. "This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017."

Yet all such legal actions and reporting is based on the increasingly quaint theory that federal courts will honestly address the election issues and not just endorse Republican vote suppression by 5-4 party line votes by justices installed like Kavanaugh after long involvement in extreme partisan politics, including dirty tricks at election time.

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphicTaking another broad view, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen linked Kavanaugh with presidential election rigging in the United States with Karl Rove and in the Ukraine with Paul Manafort in 2004, as portrayed above right and as described in his column Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret.

The column, based on Madsen's years of covering election frauds, linked Kavanaugh and Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee to the Bush dynasty and its election-rigging operation headquartered in Chattanooga, TN,  where Corker was mayor before his 2006 election to the senate.

Madsen thereby explained the all-out Bush team pressure that kept such supposed "moderates" as Corker and former Bush appointee Susan Collins as strong Kavanaugh supporters despite their supposed willingness to weigh evidence fairly about  allegations against the nominee. Collins is married to Thomas Daffron, a lobbyist with deep ties to the Bush administration and powerful corporations.

Also, Ohio-based investigative reporters/authors Robert Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman published Will the Trump GOP Strip and Flip America's 2018 Election While the Democrats Fail to Protect the Vote?

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white houseEarlier this week, President Trump invited the newest justice and his family to the White House to reenact the official weekend swearing-in ceremony.

With Trump front and center and denouncing Democrats, the White House ceremony became a highly partisan attack by the president on "mobs" of protesters against the nominee.

Democrats and other protesters must be defeated at the polls in next month's elections to maintain law and order, the president urged as the new justice looked on during the celebration — thereby horrifying both Democrats and others who think presidents and judges should at least pretend to be non-partisan on formal occasions.

The spectacle was an especially flagrant disregard of norms for a non-partisan judiciary independent of party or president. That's because Kavanaugh, doubtless now deeply indebted to Trump, has argued that a president should not have to undergo civil or criminal litigation.

Yet Kavanaugh had been one of the most aggressive prosecutors against a president in United States history while working for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in the 1990s to impeach Democratic President Bill Clinton over allegations of a consensual dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

mercedes schlapp brett kavanaugh matt schlappA former counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign during its recount vote theft and Supreme Court battle in 2000, Kavanaugh is shown in a Twitter photo celebrating at the White House this week with Matt Schlapp, one of the "Brooks Brothers" rioters (GOP DC operatives pretending to be Florida voters), and Schlaap's wife Mercedes Schlapp, deputy Trump White House communications dDirector. Her husband is head of the American Conservative Union and a frequent TV cable commnentator advocating for the Trump Administration and its goals

Meanwhile, other Republicans joined the fray this week by insisting that Democrats and other critics should get over their suspicions about Kavanaugh and the confirmation process — even as Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell floated the idea that Republicans deserve to replace in 2020 any justice who leaves the court that year.

That might enhance the court's already unprecedented 5-4 majority of hard-right Republicans able to enact throughout the nation's federal courts any legal policy that the majority wants.

In sum, such developments recall the now-discredited, but once-common, advice nostrum to rape victims: Don't fight back.

Instead, it's now time to draw larger lessons now that Kavanaugh has been confirmed as the court's newest, most partisan, most disgraced and most dangerous member.

Most important to remember: Republicans led a sham FBI background check and Senate confirmation hearing that prevented meaningful review of Kavanaugh's multiple seeming perjuries. The corrupt process and the fakery involved by important participants illustrate several massive dangers.

  1. Kavanaugh has been installed as a radical right wrecking ball against traditional norms of impartial justice and rule of law; and
  2. Even more disturbing, a massive fraudulent process has been exposed yet again whereby dirty tricks fueled by dark money overwhelms traditional checks-and-balances and free press safeguards enacted in the U.S. Constitution.

Today's column amplifies these themes based on our Justice Integrity Project (JIP) coverage of the confirmation hearing and relevant news/commentary. The commentary is excerpted below and on our specialized news sub-sites, including JIP Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Review and JIP #MeToo and Assault Allegations.

The material already exceeds book length. So we shall focus on a few key themes at a time and update also the action agenda we proposed on Sept. 26 in Five Ways To Thwart GOP Court Fraud.

We are already poised for steps Four (Ensure that at least one branch of Congress has a Democratic majority able to conduct an honest investigation since Republicans have failed to undertake them in the branches that they control).

And then comes Step Five (Cite the available evidence to expose Kavanaugh and his enablers before seeking the appropriate sanctions). Sanctions could include disbarment, civil and criminal litigation, and potentially impeachment.

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Prominent members of the scandal-stricken Roman Catholic legal leadership in the District of Columbia convened on Sunday for the annual Red Mass that provides a spiritual kick-off to the new Supreme Court term and the legal community's public aspirations for justice.

The ceremony was majestic as usual but unfolded before a slightly smaller audience than normal and under the shadow of unfolding scandal involving the local Catholic-reared Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullCardinal Donald Wuerl, left, was absent from the mass, which he has normally led for most of his 12-year tenure in Washington. Instead, he has recently been awaiting possible sanction from the Vatican for his alleged role in covering-up sexual offenses by priests in Pittsburgh, one of the cardinal's previous postings.

As usual, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts led a delegation from the court to the ceremonies at the historic Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle and a subsequent brunch.

But Roberts was accompanied by only two of the associate judges, Republican Catholic Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer, a Democrat of the Jewish faith.

This editor has attended the Red Mass and brunch a number of times previously and so is in position to comment on its history, inspiring ceremonial and spiritual aspects, as well as some of the embarrassing but largely unspoken undercurrents.

red mass 2018 straight cover MediumThe event first launched in 1928 at the St. Andrews Church in New York City, in 1953 at St. Matthews in the District of Columbia and in a number of other metro areas around the United States.

The event in the nation's capital has attracted the U.S. presidential attendance and more commonly during recent years a majority of the Supreme Court Justices, sometimes including multiple non-Catholics.

The Court in recent years has included six justices reared as Roman Catholics and three Jewish members. Kavanaugh, schooled at the Jesuit school Georgetown Prep, would be another Catholic if confirmed.

But his status is in peril following numerous claims of sexual assault and lying under oath that are surfacing. Kavanaugh has denied wrongdoing (as we and others have reported extensively elswhere, including here) and was not reported as present at the mass on Sunday.

Publically, the mass unfolded as a spiritual and civic occasion framed by the magnificant cathedral and stirring Biblical readings, sacred music and other religious trappings.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by a party line 11-10 vote on Sept. 28 but agreed also to let a key member negotiate for up to a week's delay for an FBI investigation before the nomination goes to the full Senate.

jeff flake oIn a dramatic reversal Friday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, right, announced that he sought an FBI probe of sexual misconduct investigations before a vote by the full Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority.

Breaking News: Trump orders limits on FBI probe of Kavanaugh. Accuser Julie Swetnick's attorney responds:

"If true, this is outrageous," wrote Avenatti. "Why are Trump and his cronies in the Senate trying to prevent the American people from learning the truth? Why do they insist on muzzling women with information submitted under penalty of perjury? Why Ramirez but not my client?"

Two other undecided senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, announced that they would join Flake's position. That would put Kavanaugh's final approval in doubt if other senators vote as expected nearly along party lines.

As one sign of that, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Jon Tester of Montana, two Democrats facing re-election in November in heavily Republican states, announced that they would oppose Kavanaugh.

Their decisions followed the powerful testimony on Friday by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a California research professor in psychology. She alleged that Kavanaugh had tried to forcibly rape her when she was 15 and he was 17.

Kavanaugh angrily denied the allegation at a nine-hour committee hearing.

Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh are shown in file photos taking their oaths before their separate testimony in Thursday's hearing.

christine blasey ford brett kavanaugh sept 28 2018Meanwhile, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell broadcast a compelling filmed report showing in a visual way how Flake was affected on Friday morning by protesters and by his Democratic committee colleague Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, leading to a rare compromise on the committee. O'Donnell, a former senate staffer, drew on his considerable experience for the powerful segment.

Separately, independent researchers have been busy identifying potential clues that are drawn from the hearing and other evidence.

@Soyachika, the Twitter name for a longtime sexual assault researcher, published results of a search that sought to identify a house that could have been the locale for an assault of the kind that Blasey Ford described. Also, @Soyachika located a book publisher's announcement stating that author Mark Judge was available for interviews.

Blasey Ford has said that Judge, a close friend of Kavanaugh's during high school, was present during the nominee's assault on her. Judge has denied any memory of such an incident and has asked not to be interviewed.

Democrats have repeatedly demanded a thorough investigation to include an FBI interview of Judge. His attorney consented to such an interview Saturday if the FBI so desires.

Democrats repeatedly protested during the hearing and before the Saturday's vote that the committee's confirmation process has failed to investigate the allegations adequately.  

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Brett Kavanaugh gave his endangered Supreme Court nomination new life on Sept. 27 with apparently perjured testimony and by playing the victim during a hearing on sexual assault charges that was rigged by his Republican backers.

Kavanaugh's emotional mixture of self-pitying tears, obvious lies and belligerence towards Democratic senators followed President Trump's rhetorical model of "deny, deny, deny" and vicious political partisanship.

Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee meeting approved by a party line 11-10 vote the Kavanaugh nomination but with Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announcing in a dramatic reversal that his Senate floor vote would be contingent on an FBI investigation of up to one week on sexual misconduct allegations against the candidate.

Trump, formally accused by 19 women of sexual assault or other sexual misconduct, portrayed himself as a victim in a rambling, 80-minute press conference on Sept. 26 in which he complained about mistreatment of Kavanaugh.

brett kavanaugh nbc cropped sept 27 2018The nominee, shown in an NBC News photo at left Thursday snarling his comments at Democrats, delivered a hoked-up temper tantrum that appeared to salvage his hopes for his confirmation following three major accusations of sexual misconduct and Kavanaugh's robotic performance on Monday night during a Fox television interview.

The interview came after Fox News commentators Mike Wallace and Brit Hume had described the nominee's accuser Christine Brasey Ford as highly credible in her earlier sworn testimony. 

The majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote on the nomination for 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28.

Dr. Brasey, right, told the committee that she was "100 percent" certain that Kavanaugh had been  the drunken teenager who had tried to rape her at a party when she was 15, thereby inflicting lifelong emotional trauma.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018Several former prosecutors now serving as cable television commentators, including Cynthia Aksne and Daniel Goldman on MSNBC, described the witness's mixture of first-person experience and expertise as a psychologist as the most effective witness that they had ever seen.

The witness said that she remained reluctant to step forward publicly until reporters began storming her home and workplace earlier this month.

At times during her testimony, she choked up as she described that she was "terrified" at the concept of reliving the trauma of what she called an attempted rape at a teenagers' house party in 1982. During the ordeal, she said she had feared being accidentally choked to death when, she says, Kavanaugh attempted to silence her with a hand over her mouth while she screamed.

Kavanaugh, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge in the District of Columbia, began his afternoon testimony by weeping repeatedly as he denounced Democrats for what he called smearing him and ruining his family and career.

Snowflake Kavanaugh Whines, Ducks FBI Probe

Democrats repeatedly pressed Kavanaugh on whether he would join them in requesting an FBI investigation of missing witnesses and other evidence to clear up questions on whether he or his accuser was more credible.

Kavanaugh, while complaining about false claims, ducked the question every time, saying he would defer to "the committee."

chuck grassley fox disappointed allegationCommittee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, angrily intervened by insisting there was no need for an FBI investigation because the committee staff had already undertaken all necessary investigation.

Not surprisingly, Grassley failed to note that the committee staff was controlled by the majority and had been caught in several mini-scandals congruent with a hearing procedures rigged to heavily favor the Republican nominee and without normal input from the Democratic minority.

As indicated by the Fox News graphic at left, Grassley has been complaining about the confirmation process even though he has been strong-arming it by withholding vast quantities of documents and cooperation with the minority party normal in Senate confirmation inquiries.

The Grassley committee scandals include the vow of committee chief of staff Mike Davis that Kavanaugh would be confirmed no matter what the evidence. Also, the committee had had to fire its temporary staffer Garrett Ventry, loaned to the committee from the right-wing firm CRC Public Relations, after it was revealed that Ventry had been fired because of sexual harassment on his previous job.

Ventry and the committee's integrity had also been compromised because CRC Public Relations has been handling the main national advertising from the Judicial Crisis Network advocating Kavanaugh's confirmation and for Edward Whelan, a think tank president caught trying to blame an innocent man for the attempted rape of Blasey.

So, any reference to a committee investigation as fair was preposterous on its face.

Among the Grassley-ordered procedures was for Republicans to use a sex crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell of Arizona, to ask questions on behalf of the all-male GOP majority.

brett kavanaugh 1982 calendars released judiciary committeeBut the chairman suddenly granted GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina extra time to replace Mitchell, which  Graham proceeded to do with his angry and insulting partisan tirade against Democrats.

This was shortly Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois had challenged Kavanaugh on why he did not want an FBI investigation.

Then Mitchell appeared to have established a damaging admission from Kavanaugh that his calendars from 1982, which the nominee cited to show he could not possibly have been at a party with Brasey, seemed to show an evening on July 1 when he met with his friend Mark Judge and others for an evening that could have fit the circumstances.

Brasey alleged that Judge was present in the bedroom with Kavanaugh during the attempted rape.

Slate described the pivotal moment in Thursday's hearing in its column There’s an Entry on Kavanaugh’s 1982 Calendar That Supports Ford’s Story Better Than His Own. Another commentator wrote of this pivotal juncture:

The moment Rachel Mitchell squeezed Kavanaugh to admit that "skis" was an oblique reference to beer, and seeing the name "Judge" in that July 1 entry, Lindsay Graham immediately realized that Mitchell was doing her job too well; that's when Graham and his majority agreed to breach their own procedure of supposedly having Mitchell examine BOTH WITNESSES.

Judge, who wrote a book about his debauched youth, has denied via a statement from his lawyer to the committee that he was present at any party with Kavanaugh and Brasey. But judge has been hiding at a beach house unwilling to testify despite repeated demands and requests from Democrats to have him interviewed by trained FBI investigators and brought before the committee and cross-examined.

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