Here is a man who featured largely in the life of President Nixon. John Wesley Dean III served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973.
John Dean served as the White House Counsel for former president, Richard Nixon and is best-known for his deep-seated association in the events leading up to the Watergate crimes and the ensuing, Watergate scandal. Even though he was referred to as the ‘master manipulator’, by the FBI, he pleaded guilty and his prison-sentence was reduced. However, Dean found solace in the fact that he had a wide number of admirers, who saw him as courageous and truthful rather than self-serving and disloyal. He is also an author, avid columnist, commentator, a political contemporary and a strong supporter of the Republican Party.
He went on to write a number of books on Watergate Scandal and about the Nixon White House. Books such as ‘Blind Ambition’ and ‘Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush’ went on to become highly popular, yet highly controversial publications, which hurled him into the spotlight. During the presidency of George W. Bush, he became an opinionated critic of the President’s administration for which he was jeered at by many. Nevertheless, he continued to publish books on his presidency and even disclosed important information about the White House through his works.
Childhood & Early Life
- John Wesley Dean was born in Akron, Ohio, and was raised in Marion for a couple of years, before the family moved to Flossmoor, Illinois. He then attended Staunton Military Academy for high school and Colgate University for his undergraduate course. However, he shifted to The College of Wooster in Ohio, from where he finally completed his B.A. in 1961.
- In 1965, he earned his ‘Juris Doctor’ degree from Georgetown University Law Center, following which he joined a law firm in Washington, D.C.
- From 1966 to 1967, Dean was recruited as the chief minority advisor to the Republican members at the ‘United States House Committee on the Judiciary’. He was then employed as the associate director of the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws for two years.
- In 1968, during President Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, he volunteered to write position papers on crime and the following year, he served under Attorney General, John N. Mitchell as the associate deputy in office.
- Richard Nixon, the then president, was impressed with Dean’s commitment and appointed him as the personal counsel and the existing counselor, John Ehrlichman, was re-appointed as the chief domestic advisor.
- During the campaign in 1972, Dean and a couple of other former FBI agents and members of Committee of the Re-Election of the President presented an initial plan for intelligence operations which was unapproved. They were asked to scale down the plan and attempts to spy on the Democratic National Committee were carried out.
- The burglars broke in at the Watergate complex twice, both of which took place in 1972. After the offenders were taken into custody and questioned, Dean took the evidence and money and destroyed some of it before the remainder was found by investigators.
- On March 23, 1973, the Watergate burglars were sentenced to prison, while Dean hired an attorney inconspicuously and continued to work as Nixon’s White House Counsel. As Nixon was unaware of Dean’s involvement, he had asked him to prepare a report of all the evidence found and everything he knew about the scandal. However, this was a particularly trying task for him as he was a part of the scandal too, even if it was indirect. As a result, he could not complete the report and was fired by Nixon on April 30, 1973.
- On June 25, 1973, he began his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee and was breaking new ground in the investigation and attracted widespread media coverage. He pled guilty on October 19, 1973, but was only to serve a prison term of one to four years.
- His sentence was reduced to four months and he was expelled as a lawyer. Shortly after the scandal, he resorted to writing and was became a part-time investment banker. He recounted his experiences at the White House in the books, ‘Blind Ambition’ which was published in 1976 and ‘Lost Honor’, which was published in 1982.
- In 2000, he retired from investment banking and in 2006 he authored ‘Conservatives Without Conscience’, which was received positively by readers in the United States. The following year, he published ‘Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches’.
- In 2009, he appeared on ‘Countdown’ and was accused of new information related to the Watergate Scandal and the Nixon tapes.
- ‘Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush’ drew attention to the military and administrative issues that were carried out under the President’s tenure. Although this book attracted negative publicity, it was rated by critics as one of the ‘boldest publications’ by a former-White House member, in the last decade.
Clancy's comment: I lived in Washington DC during this period, and I also attended some of the Watergate Trials where I saw and heard all of the major players. They were interesting times.