Unlike Mr. Jaworski in 1974 and Mr. Mueller today, Mr. Starr was operating under a law — enacted after Watergate, and since lapsed — that clearly gave him the authority to send a report directly to Congress.
In his 1976 memoir, “The Right and the Power: The Prosecution of Watergate,” Mr. Jaworski, who died in 1982, portrayed the Road Map as his “master plan.” He called it an unprecedented but legally proper solution to a difficult problem: harnessing a grand jury’s power to issue a report as a way to get around his apparent lack of power to send information to Congress directly. A federal judge overseeing the grand jury and a federal appeals court approved the move.
In a declaration accompanying the petition filed on Friday, Mr. Bates said that when he was working for Mr. Starr more than two decades later, he asked the National Archives for a copy of the Road Map report to study as a model, but was told that it was still secret. He said he had recently tried again to obtain it under the Freedom of Information Act, but was rebuffed for the same reason.
The Starr report — which Mr. Bates wrote with Brett M. Kavanaugh, whom Mr. Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court — contained extensive legal analysis and explicitly concluded that Mr. Clinton should be impeached, along with lurid detail about Mr. Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. The Watergate Road Map report is said to have been far more terse and understated.
“The final product contained the information we sought to transmit, with references to particular tapes and testimony of particular witnesses, and that’s all,” Mr. Jaworski wrote. “There were no comments, no interpretations and not a word or phrase of accusatory nature. The ‘Road Map’ was simply that — a series of guideposts if the House Judiciary Committee wished to follow them.”
In another declaration, Mr. Goldsmith noted the incongruity that the Watergate-era document has a better historical reputation than the Starr report and yet is unavailable for public scrutiny. He argued that making it public would help inform discussion of any effort by Mr. Mueller to send information to Congress, a task that could require navigating “difficult and sensitive issues of executive power, separation of powers and individual rights.”
The petition was also accompanied by three declarations from Watergate-era figures who argued that it was time to make the Road Map public: two Watergate prosecutors, Richard Ben-Veniste and Philip A. Lacovara, and John Dean, the White House counsel for Mr. Nixon.