John W. Dean, III Papers, White House Special Files, 07/09/1970 - 04/30/1973


Descriptive Summary

Title: John W. Dean, III Papers, White House Special Files, 07/09/1970 - 04/30/1973
Dates: 1970-1973
Collection Number: 922108
Creator/Collector: Dean, John W. (John Wesley), 1938-
Extent: 50 linear feet, 4 linear inches; 115 boxes
Online items available
Repository: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Abstract: This series was created to document the activities of John W. Dean III as he carried out his duties as Counsel to the President on legal, political and legislative issues in the Nixon administration.
Language of Material: English


Collection is open for research. Some materials may be unavailable based upon categories of materials exempt from public release established in the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974.

Publication Rights

Most government records are in the public domain, however, this series includes commercial materials, such as newspaper clippings, that may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the copyright holder for information.

Preferred Citation

John W. Dean, III Papers, White House Special Files, 07/09/1970 - 04/30/1973 . Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Acquisition Information

These materials are in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration under the provisions of Title I of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-526, 88 Stat. 1695) and implementing regulations.

Biography/Administrative History

John Wesley Dean III was born on October 14, 1938 in Akron, Ohio. After graduating from the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree at The College of Wooster in Ohio in 1961. He then attended Georgetown University Law Center and received his Juris Doctor in 1965. During his time in law school, Dean worked as a law clerk in the firm of Hollabaugh & Jacobs in Washington, D.C. He obtained a junior associate position at the Washington law firm of Welch & Morgan upon his graduation from Georgetown. During the period 1966-67, Dean served as chief minority council for the Judiciary Committee in the United States House of Representatives. He then spent the next two years as Associate Director of the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws before working as an Associate Deputy Attorney, General Office of Criminal Justice, Department of Justice, between 1969 and 1970. On July 9, 1970, Dean became Counsel to President Richard Nixon. The position became available after Dean’s predecessor, John Ehrlichman, left to become Nixon’s chief domestic adviser. Dean was eventually implicated in the Watergate scandal and began cooperating with federal investigators in March of 1973 while continuing to work as counsel to the President until he was fired by Nixon on April 30, 1973. Dean testified in hearings before the United States Senate’s Select Committee on President Campaign Activities (also known as the Senate Watergate Committee) during the period of June 25-29, 1973. On October 19, 1973, John Dean pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. He was given a sentence of 1 to 4 years (U.S. v. John W. Dean, USDC 886-73) by Judge John Sirica on August 2, 1974. He began his sentence under the supervision of the United States Marshalls at Fort Holabird, Maryland from September 3, 1974. During part of his time in custody, October 16-25, 1974, Dean testified in the Watergate cover-up trial, United States v. John N. Mitchell, et al. For his cooperation, Dean’s sentence was reduced to time served and he was released after four months on January 8, 1975. Barred from practicing law due to his conspiracy conviction, Dean worked as an investment banker, lecturer and author. He began writing for Rolling Stone magazine in 1976. His memoir Blind Ambition was published the same year. His next memoir, Lost Honor, was published in 1982. Between 2001 and 2007, he authored The Rehnquist Choice (2001), Worse than Watergate (2004), Conservatives Without Conscience (2006), and Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches (2007). In addition, Dean has contributed to the online legal magazines Writ and Verdict, co-edited Pure Goldwater (2009) and made guest appearances on news and politically-oriented television programs. On March 31, 2006, Dean testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the President George W. Bush censure hearings related to NSA wiretaps performed without warrants. In 2003, Dean became a visiting scholar and lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. As of 2012, he is involved in the Watergate CLE (continuing legal education) – an extended legal education series that examines how the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct impacted Watergate.

Scope and Content of Collection

The materials of John W. Dean III document his duties as legal advisor for political and legislative issues in the Nixon administration. Prior to his appointment to the Nixon White House Staff, Dean had served as chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee (1966-67) and as Associate Director of the National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws (1967-78). During the 1968 Presidential campaign, Dean wrote position papers on crime for Nixon's "law and order" campaign against his Democratic opponent. Impressed with his law-and-order position papers in the course of the campaign, Deputy Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst brought Dean into the Department of Justice in February 1969 as Associate Deputy Attorney General. In this capacity Dean worked closely with Attorney General John N. Mitchell on the administration's crime and drug-control legislative programs. He also served as the chief negotiator for the Government in discussions with protest leaders about the terms of demonstration permits for activities within the District of Columbia, and acted as representative of the attorney general in meetings with the nation's Governors to explain proposed model drug legislation. As Dean stated in his autobiographical book of his White House years, it was Egil "Bud" Krogh, assistant to John D. Ehrlichman, who recommended him for a position on the White House staff. Although Dean initially declined the job, he did accept the offer and on July 9, 1970, became Counsel to the President. This was the post Ehrlichman had formerly held. Even though Dean possessed the title, he did not automatically inherit Ehrlichman's power. At the start, therefore, he had to confine himself to dealing with relatively trivial matters, but sought to expand his role as well as that of his office within the White House by making the advice and services of the counsel's office available to staff members on any subject they needed legal assistance. Thus, Dean and his small office staff began to provide counsel on a wide range of topics, from the technicalities of divorce laws to immigration laws to possible conflicts of interest to the propriety of litigation against certain anti-administration critics to the proper use of the Presidential seal and White House stationary. According to Dean, it was the discreet handling of conflict-of-interest reviews and investigations that won him the confidence of H. R. Haldeman and Ehrlichman. Eventually his responsibilities included keeping the White House informed about domestic disorders and antiwar demonstrations, investigating presidential appointees, handling all matters relating to presidential clemency, and performing intelligence work for the White House. By 1972 Dean was being regularly chosen to deal with assignments, which were regarded as important and sensitive, and was used as a White House "firefighter". Furthermore, it was Dean who briefed administration witnesses prior to their testimony before congressional committees. The Watergate affair, however, marked a turning point in Dean's White House career and his relationship within the Nixon administration. Although he seemed to ideal choice to try and contain the political fallout from Watergate, he failed and ultimately lost the trust and confidence of the President. On April 30, 1973, Nixon announced to the media that he had accepted the resignation of Dean as White House counsel along with those of Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Kleindienst. The Dean file group comprises material which he periodically retired to the White House Central Files between 1971 and 1973 as well as those which remained in his office at the time FBI agents sealed it shortly following the White House announcement of his resignation. Several groups of materials were integrated into identifiable file segments and appropriate series. One such body of material, bearing the suffix "W" with a serial numeric filing code on the file folder, presumably reflects areas of responsibility assigned to David G. Wilson, who joined Dean's staff in February 1971 as his assistant. Found within the Dean file group, are the names of various individuals who comprised Dean's office staff. In addition to Fred F. Fielding who was Associate Counsel to the President, the White House counsel's office included staff assistants John J. Caufield, Tom C. Huston, Roy E. (Pete) Kinsey, Marie Darlene Moulds, David Wilson, and J. Dapray Muir. Jane E. Thomas and Anne R. Dawson were the secretaries in the office whereas Peter v. Baugher was a second-year Yale Law School student assigned to Dean's office as a summer intern in 1972. Frequent correspondents in the Dean file group include Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, Henry Kissinger, Peter Flanigan, Egil Krogh, Bruce Kehrli, Frederic Malek, Clark MacGregor, and Richard Kleindienst. But because of the nature of the work done by the White House counsel's office, Dean and his staff had some contact with almost every staff member or office within the White House complex. As a consequence of Dean's investigative and intelligence-gathering efforts at the behest of the White House, his office had frequent contact with various individuals within the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies. The first series in the file group, Correspondence File, combines several of Dean's chronological and general correspondence files together with two small chronological files attributed to Peter Kinsey and summer intern Peter Baugher. Dean's files include the routine correspondence of the counsel's office as well as his departmental correspondence as Associate Deputy attorney General. Both Kinsey's and Baugher's files are only for the year 1972. Baugher's chronological file is of interest because it provides some insight into the kinds of assignments given White House summer interns. The assignments were primarily research projects on specific topics, such as the applicability of State election laws on Presidential candidates, and amnesty issue, the future of the Federal death penalty, and disposition of Presidential seal requests. Among topics covered n the series are requests for Presidential pardons, the court-martial of Lt. William Calley, conflict-of-interest laws, applicability of the Hatch Act, campaign filing requirements, protest demonstrations, and advice to the President on honorary memberships and estate planning. The largest and most varied series in the Dean file group is the Subject File. It includes material relating to proposed environmental, economic, and social legislation, international laws and treaties, Presidential commissions, national security, domestic intelligence, conflict-of-interest laws, and the coordination of the President's multiple roles as Chief Executive, head of the Republican Party, candidate, and private citizen. A substantial portion of the series pertains to the court-martial of Lt. Calley;, the nominations of William Casey to the Securities and Exchange Commission, of Richard Kleindienst to the Office of Attorney General, and of Virginia Congressman Richard H. Poff to the Supreme Court; foreign activities and political contributions of International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), and responses of the President to Watergate-related allegations. Excessive concern (by the White House) about antiwar demonstrations and about various domestic radicals or groups is the general tenor of the Subject File: Demonstrations and Domestic Intelligence series. Because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter in the series, there is a high percentage of national security and Agency-restricted information and all such documents have been removed from the file folders. Problems concerning national and domestic security reached a critical stage within the Nixon White House by 1970 that prompted the creation of a special interagency committee--the Intelligence Evaluation Committee (IEC). The aim of this group was to improve coordination among the intelligence community and to prepare evaluations and estimates of domestic intelligence. According to Dean, IEC was created in early 1971 and Jack Caulfield served as the White House liaison until he was succeeded by David Wilson in summer 1972. Therefore, Dean's office received copies of the specially prepared IEC reports. In addition to these reports, Dean received intelligence reports, including summaries and analyses, about antiwar demonstrations and radical groups or individuals from the FBI and Secret Service, and on some occasions, from the CIA, National Security Agency, and local police departments. Topics covered include civil disorders on and off campuses, black and white extremist organizations, the 1971 May Day demonstrations, disturbances during the Democratic and Republican national conventions, studies on international terrorism, and the protection of political officials. Another series in the Dean file group containing a high percentage of withdrawn material is the Name File, Conflict of Interest. This series documents the efforts of the counsel's office to identify and avoid potential conflict-of-interest problems that could arise from the private interests and associations of prospective presidential appointees or White House staff members. Principal types of documents found in the series include trust agreements, personal financial statements, affidavits, and confidential statements of employment and financial interests. At the end of the series there is a 3-folder chronological file containing primarily carbons of Dean's office responses to conflict-of-interest reviews on individuals who were being considered for appointment to positions in Departments, Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and Boards. Since most of the individuals mentioned in the chronological file were not members of the White House Staff, there is little duplication of items in the more expansive name file. An above-normal interest by Dean's office in the proceedings of two Senate confirmation hearings is reflected in the series entitled Congressional Hearings on the Nomination of Richard G. Kleindienst and L. Patrick Gray III. It also indicates the high sensitivity of the issues and the concerns of the White House about them. The material consists primarily of typed transcripts that were prepared by the Washington, D. C. firm of Ward & Paul, Inc., shorthand reporters for congressional committees. Of the two sets of hearings, the Kleindienst transcripts comprise the greater amount of material in the series. The Kleindienst transcripts relate to the second hearings held before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his confirmation to succeed John N. Mitchell as attorney general. Although Kleindienst had been earlier confirmed in the position, he had demanded a reopening of the hearings in order to clear his name of the charges raised by columnist Jack Anderson about administration collusion in the ITT antitrust settlement. The transcripts cover the proceedings of the hearings from March 6 to April 20, l972. Furthermore, many of the transcripts bear the handwritten annotation on the cover "please correct for printing," and some even have stamped the reference "to be returned to Senate Judiciary Committee". A few transcripts contain a simple cover reference of "Mitchell" or "Geneen" to indicate those volumes of the transcripts that contain portions of the testimony of the former attorney general or of ITT president Harold G. Geneen. For some unknown reason Dean's office did not either receive or retain every transcript, for there are at least four volumes missing: volumes 1, 2, 11, and 17. In a few instances there are duplicate copies of particular transcripts. Topics covered in the transcripts tend to pertain to all aspects of the ITT antitrust settlement, the Dita Beard memorandum, and the $400,00 contribution of ITT cash and services to the San Diego Republican National Convention. While the Kleindienst transcripts appear fragmentary, despite the many number of volumes, the Gray transcripts seem complete. They document the proceedings that were held before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the confirmation of L. Patrick Gray III as FBI Director. Gray, who was an assistant attorney general at the time of his appointment, had been serving as acting FBI Director since J. Edgar Hoover's death in May 1972. The Gray transcripts begin with the first day's proceedings (February 28, 1973) and end with the March 9, 1973 hearings. These hearings, however, rapidly became mired in Watergate and partisan politics and the White House ultimately decided to withdraw the nomination. As was the case with the Kleindienst transcripts, there is some duplication and many transcripts bear the stamped reference "to be returned to Senate Judiciary Committee". Although the hearings probed into the FBI handling of the Watergate investigation under Gray's supervision, there are two instances where someone underlined in red passages relating to the ITT antitrust suit. At the end of the Gray transcripts, there are three folders that contain insertions of additional responses or documentary materials to this testimony. Also, there is a folder that includes electrostatic copies of Gray's correspondence with James O. Eastland, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in response to requests for documentary materials from the Justice Department's files. The 1970 Campaign File series consists of electrostatic copies of materials maintained by former Nixon political aide and fund-raising specialist, Jack A. Gleason. Because of his experience as a member of the 1968 Nixon fund-raising team and his close association with Maurice H. Stans who ran the highly successful fund-raising drive for Nixon and the Republican Party in 1968, Gleason was detached from White House political advisor Harry S. Dent's staff to handle a secret multi-million dollar slush fund to funnel money to select Republican candidates in the 1970 congressional and gubernatorial elections. This White House-approved operation, dubbed "Town House Project" because Gleason worked out of a backroom office in the basement of the Northwest Washington, D. C. townhouse, became an object of Watergate Special Prosecutors' investigations into illegal political campaign practices. According to Dean in his book, Blind Ambition, Colson turned Gleason's records over to him with the aim of protecting them from disclosure under claims of executive privilege and attorney-client privilege. All items in this series document the activities of the Town House Operation and Gleason's role in it. Materials include Gleason's correspondence with White House aides Dent, Haldeman, and Murray Chotiner as well as with various campaign contributors. Other items of interest among Gleason's files are receipts for expenses incurred by his office, his periodic reports of allocations and amounts of money delivered to various political committees in the 34 states where the administration sought victories, lists of campaign contributors, travel schedules, and bank statements and canceled checks. Two items which seem unrelated to Gleason's files or to the 1970 campaign are "The Presidential Advance Manual" and the "Advanceman's Checklist". The former, dated 1971, describes in depth the functions of advance men and provides them with guidance in carrying out their assignments to ensure maximum effectiveness of any presidential event. With President Nixon's announced intention to seek a second term, the White House counsel's office acquired another task, that is, to ensure that the President complied with all Federal and State election law requirements and to provide legal counsel on whatever issue that might arise from or during the campaign. The 1972 Campaign File in the Dean file group reflects this activity. Responsibility for maintaining these files fell to David G. Wilson, assistant to Dean, who adopted a simple numeric filing scheme for this series. Material in the series is very diverse, ranging from official publications and opinion papers to legal documents, newspaper clippings, and photographs. A large portion of the 1972 Campaign File (the first 40 file folders) has been withdrawn for return because the material relates to private political association. Much of the withdrawn material consists of copies of State election laws, election campaign forms, statements, reports, or letters from various State election laws, election campaign forms, statements, reports, or letters from various State election officials acknowledging receipt of filing reports or contributions and expenditures which Presidential candidate Nixon was required to submit according to the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act or by appropriate State election laws. The Candidate Reports refer to the detailed reports of contributions received and expenditures made which every Presidential candidate, including vice-presidential candidates, had to file with the Comptroller General of the United States. Under the provisions of the 1971 Act these reports were required four times a year as well as on the fifteenth and fifth day preceding the date of any election--primary, general, or convention--in which the candidate was running. The act also required the filing of negative reports if there were no receipts and expenditures during the reporting period. Material in two accordion-style file folders, located at the end of the series, has also been withdrawn for return because they are pre-Presidential materials. These file folders contain the financial records of the Committee for the Election of Republican Candidates (1966-67) and of the Committee for the Loyal Opposition (1966-67) which Peter M. Flanigan maintained as the committees' treasurer. Since campaign financing and spending were major public issues in 1972, much of the material not withdrawn among the 1972 Campaign Files series relates to legal interpretations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which became effective on April 7, 1972, or to opinion papers with regard to proposed legislation. Another area of interest as reflected by the content of the items in the series, include several litigation cases involving PACs (Political Action Committees), disclosure of political contributors, and the allocation of delegates rule to the Republican National Convention. Electoral College reform, tax status of political contributions, public disclosures of violations of specific Federal laws, and regulations issued by certain Agencies pertaining to the extension of credit to political parties by regulated businesses were other topics covered in this series. More than 250 photographs have been transferred to the audiovisual collection and replaced with electrostatic copies. A majority of the photographs pertain to the 1971 demonstrations or to ITT lobbyist Dita Beard. There is also a large quantity of photographs, taken by official White House photographers, featuring both high-level Nixon administration officials and less well-known White House support personnel. Related materials can be found in the files of Dean's office staff. The White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, of David Wilson contain l cubic foot of material, including some items transferred from the Dean file group. The White House Central Files, Staff Member and Office Files, contain additional Dean material: Fred Fielding (l cubic foot), Roy E. (Pete) Kinsey, Jr. (2 cubic feet), and J. Dapray Muir (l cubic foot). Routine Dean office correspondence regarding security clearances or White House access can be found in the files of the White House Security Office as well as those of the Office of Science and Technology. Moreover, since J. Fred Buzhardt succeeded Dean as counsel to the President, there is some Dean material in his White House Central Files, Staff Member and Office Files (27.6 cubic feet). These files were segregated from the rest of his Staff Member and Office Files and administered by the Special Files Unit. In addition to these files, there are 2 cubic feet of exclusively Dean material in the White House Special files under Buzhardt's name. Furthermore, there may be some additional Dean material in Buzhardt's White House Central Files, Staff Member and Office Files, that were not segregated and maintained by the Special Files Unit.

Indexing Terms

John Dean
John Wesley Dean

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