ABC News was not able to find any references to Gray throwing documents into a river in the committee's final report or anywhere else as Lenzner, Bradlee and Bernstein claimed. Ed Gray acknowledged that his father destroyed "Watergate-related evidence" -- since "anything in Howard Hunt's safe" at the White House would fit that definition -- but insists his father did not destroy investigative files from the FBI or anywhere else, as Lenzner claimed. And as Patrick Gray has acknowledged publicly, his method of destroying potential evidence was burning, not drowning.
Gray's son argued that the files his father destroyed were not legally relevant to any of the Watergate crimes and notes that his father was never indicted or convicted of any criminal wrongdoing in the Watergate investigation.
There seems an easy explanation for any possible confusion as to whether Gray dropped evidence into the Potomac River. On June 28, 1972, Nixon's assistant for domestic affairs, John Ehrlichman, told White House counsel John W. Dean III, to "deep six" certain politically damaging files from the White House, according to Dean. These specifically belonged to former CIA operative E. Howard Hunt, who was using the White House as a base to investigate Nixon's enemies.
In "All the President's Men," the book written by Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the reporter who actually met with Deep Throat, Ehrlichman says to Dean, "you go across the river every day, John, why don't you drop the goddamn f---ing things in the river?"
That same day, Ehrlichman and Dean gave two files to Gray. As Gray recalled during his ill-fated April 1973 Senate confirmation hearings to become permanent FBI director, Dean told him the files were "political dynamite" and "not to see the light of day." Told they were unrelated to Watergate, Gray burned two envelopes in the fireplace of his Connecticut home.
"He was operating on the presumption of regularity," Ed Gray says about his father, who has since maintained his silence about Watergate other than testimony. "That was the only way government can function." Ehrlichman and Dean "used his willingness to preserve regularity and got him to destroy" the documents, he says. "He freely admits he was set up."
Ed Gray says his father never opened the envelopes before burning them. But Sachs remembers his client confiding to him that "he peeked ... and they were these bull---- cables and a dossier on Teddy Kennedy. It corroborated for me that whatever it was he destroyed, it was not Watergate-burglary related." Dean testified the envelopes contained copies of a fake State Department cable Hunt made implicating President Kennedy in the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and a dossier with bogus information about Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
"We don't want to be litigious," Ed Gray said of any misstatements about his father. "We're not argumentative; we just want to get it right. We think the world needs to have a bigger picture about what happens to a wholly honorable person like my father."
Gray said that "the bottom line -- that we want everybody to know -- is, had my father tampered with or destroyed any evidence he certainly would have been indicted. If there even were grounds for suspicion that he tampered with or destroyed any evidence, he would have been indicted." But he wasn't.