The last of the Agnew papers were released yesterday, disclosing few new details about the negotiations that led to the plea bargaining for the first American vice president to leave office in disgrace.
Instead, the papers were a collection of familiar stories of conversations between lawyers and federal investigators and tiresome minutiae from the investigation.
These papers from the memoranda of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department failed to provide any clues to the few mysteries left in the 1973 case: There is no mention of how Agnew spent his $87,000 in bribes. There was no description of Agnew's final decision to accept a plea of nolo contendere to one count of tax evasion rather than stand trial of accepting kickbacks.
Instead, there is among the papers a May 30, 1973, government "access" list which, among other things, notes that John Allen (barber) is allowed entry to the White House on Wednesdays only, another sheet lists the participants of a "Washington Seminar," not one of whom had any involvement in the criminal case against Spiro T. Agnew.
The Significance of some of these documents was even lost on one of the four men who successfully investigated the kick-back scheme that reaped Agnew over $87,000 in bribes.
"I just don't know," said Russell T. Baker, now Maryland's U.S. attorney, when asked how these lists came into government possession. "Maybe we were checking out a false trail. I don't know how important those lists are. We never got around to the detailed analysis. By that time the plea bargaining has already begun."
The papers do expand on the theme of news leaks. A Congressman asked for and won an investigation into the news report about one key witness' lie detector test.
An attorney for Agnew, the papers show visited a Justice Department offical to announce that he was not the source of the leak. At the same time he asked if, in fact, a lie detector test had been to the witness. When Judah Best, the attorney, got a no comment from the government, he warned ". . . In celebrated cases such as this one the opposing parties often tend to adopt hard positions which make communication between them difficult."
Another visitor to the Justice Department was Brendan Sullivan, attorney for Allen Green who was later convicted of a tax violation. Sullivan accused the Agnew attorneys of leaking to the press, causing a "devastating effect on both Mr. Green personally and on his business."
The events revealed yesterday are little more than footnotes to the investigation, which started out to break up political corruption in Baltimore County and ended up toppling a vice president, a governor, a county executive and various influential businessmen.
The documents were released after a law student filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the files covering the 1972 investigation.