Dean, John W.

Born: 1938

Ohio connection: Birth


John Wesley Dean III was born in 1938 to John (a businessman) and Sara Dean in Akron, Ohio. Dean grew up in Marion, Ohio. He attended Staunton Military Academy, Colgate University, 1957-59; and earned a B.A. from the College of Wooster in 1961. He did graduate study at American University, 1961-62 and graduated Georgetown University with an LL.B. in 1965. After law school, Dean worked for six months as an associate in the law firm of Welch and Morgan. From 1966 to 1967, Dean was chief minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, and then spent several years as the associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice and associate director of the National Commission on Reform of Criminal Law. In 1970, Dean began his tenure as counsel to the president for Richard M. Nixon, a post he served in until fired by the president on April 30, 1973. Once the Watergate scandal broke, Dean began talking to federal investigators. Within months, Dean testified before the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, otherwise known as the Ervin Committee.  In his testimony before the Ervin Committee, Dean became the first person to publicly charge President Nixon with involvement in the Watergate cover-up. Dean went further, however, and accused the president not only of participating in the Watergate cover-up, but also of using illegal means to punish his political enemies, including manipulating the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service for his own purposes. Dean’s four days of testimony detailed the role of Nixon and his staff in various illegal activities.

For his part in the conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal, Dean was sentenced to spend one to four years in prison, but was released from prison after four months. Barred from practicing law, Dean pursued a career as an investment banker, public speaker, and author. Dean’s memoirs of the Watergate affair, Blind Ambition, became a made-for-TV movie. Dean published a second book in 1982, Lost Honor, about the years following his release from prison. He continued to work as an investment banker in California while writing columns, essays and books on subjects as varied as President Warren G. Harding and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. In 2004, he emerged as an outspoken critic of the administration of George W. Bush and published the book Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.

In 2014, John Dean published, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.  He currently resides in Beverly Hills, California.