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John Dean
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What can Richard Nixon's White House counsel tell us about what's going on inside the Bush Presidency? David Brancaccio interviews John Dean. Thirty years ago as counsel to Richard Nixon he mesmerized the country with his testimony in the Watergate hearings about "a cancer growing on the presidency." Eventually Nixon would resign and John Dean would go down in history for his role in the Watergate scandal. Dean appeared on NOW in 2004 to talk about his book WORSE THAN WATERGATE: THE SECRET PRESIDENCY OF GEORGE W. BUSH.

John Dean
of the 2004 interview

of the 2005 interview

Before becoming counsel to the president of the United States in July 1970 at age thirty-one, John W. Dean was chief minority counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, the associate director of a law-reform commission, and associate deputy attorney general of the United States. He served as Richard Nixon's White House lawyer for a thousand days.

He did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English literature and political science. He received a graduate fellowship from American University to study government and the presidency, before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his JD in 1965.

Dean has written many articles and essays on law, government, and politics. He has recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books, BLIND AMBITION and LOST HONOR. His other books include THE REHNQUIST CHOICE, UNMASKING DEEP THROAT, and WARREN G. HARDING. He has also written for the NEW YORK TIMES, ROLLING STONE, MSNBC, Salon, and many other publications. He writes a biweekly column for FindLaw's "Writ."

Dean recently retired from his successful career as a private investment banker and now writes and lectures full-time. Most recently he became a visiting scholar at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California.


The year 2002 marked the 30th anniversary of the beginning of Watergate — the scandal that brought down a president and changed the way the executive branch works, and its reputation. Legislative results included The War Powers Act (1973), Federal Election Campaign Amendments (1974), the Ethics in Government Act (1978) and the Presidential Records Act (1978.) (Read about changes to the Presidential Records Act enacted by the Bush Administration.)

Though many today may not recognize the name of Rose Mary Woods (the secretary who erased 18 and 1/2 crucial minutes of a White House tape), some of the names and phrases of the scandal have great resonance. In 2002, John Dean wrote a special e-book for called UNMASKING DEEP THROAT — which still leaves the question open and room for another few decades of speculation. Other famous Watergate names have had different post-scandal careers. G. Gordon Liddy hosts a talk show. Charles Colson became a born-again Christian while serving his Watergate sentence and in 1976 founded the Prison Fellowship Ministries. John Ehrlichman retired from public life and in the 1990s an Atlanta gallery displayed 43 of his pen-and-ink drawings from the Watergate era.

Find out more about this crucial event in American politics.


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