John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Before becoming White House counsel at age thirty-one, he was the chief minority counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, and an associate deputy attorney general at the US Department of Justice. His undergraduate studies were at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English Literature and Political Science; then a graduate fellowship at American University to study government and the presidency before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his JD with honors in 1965.

John recounted his days at the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books: Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). After retiring from a business career as a private investment banker doing middle-market mergers and acquisitions, he returned to full-time writing and lecturing, including as a columnist for FindLaw's Writ (from 2000 to 2010) and Justia’s Verdict (since 2010). Donald Trump’s election and presidency have created renewed interest in (and sales of) John’s earlier New York Times best-sellers: Conservatives Without Conscience (2006), which explains the authoritarian direction of the conservative movement that resulted in Trump’s election a decade before it happened, and Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches (2008), which addresses the consequences of GOP control of government. His most recent bestseller, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (2014), is currently being developed by Entertainment One and ABC Television into an eight or ten-hour miniseries entitled “Watergate.”

John held the Barry M. Goldwater Chair of American Institutions at Arizona State University (academic years 2015-16), and for the past decade and a half he has been a visiting scholar and lecturer at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications. Currently, Dean is working on his twelfth book about Donald Trump’s presidency, while providing commentary and analysis on the Trump presidency as a CNN News contributor and analyst, and teaching continuing legal education (CLE) programs that examine the impact of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct on select historic events from Watergate (and the Trump presidency) with surprising results – see www.WatergateCLE.com

Columns by John Dean

Heading for The Dark Side of Journalism

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean continues his discussion of the controversial investigative report by Al Jazeera Investigates that implicates several elite American athletes of illegal doping. Dean discusses the two lawsuits filed in federal court in the District of Columbia and the possible role an anti-SLAPP statute might play in those lawsuits.

Act One of “The Dark Side”?

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In this first of a series of columns, former counsel to the president John W. Dean comments on the Al Jazeera sports doping exposé and the two defamation actions filed this week by Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman. Dean anticipates that these lawsuits might develop into a lengthy legal battle that puts American defamation law to the test.

What Trump’s Call to Ban Muslims Is Telling Us About Authoritarian Politics

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean argues that Donald Trump’s campaign is showing to the national public what authoritarian politics is all about. Dean ultimately says that he does not find Trump’s rhetoric threatening, because an authoritarian such as Trump—even if he secures the nomination—cannot find broad enough voter support across the country.

R.I.P. Fred Thompson, A Faded Type of Washingtonian

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John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, reflects on the life of former Senator Fred Thompson, who passed away from a recurrence of lymphatic cancer on November 1, 2015. Dean describes how he and Thompson met, when the latter served as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, and their repeated crossed paths over the following decades.

Will the Committee on Benghazi Find a Sense of Decency?

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean strongly critiques the House Select Committee on Benghazi for conducting itself without decency or civility. Dean compares the committee’s hearings to the so-called Army-McCarthy hearing of June 9, 1954, in which Republican Senator Joe McCarthy charged that the Army had been infiltrated by communists.

The Last of the President’s Men

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean gives a preview of Bob Woodward’s new book, The Last of the President’s Men, which recounts the experiences of Alex Butterfield in the Nixon White House. Dean explains the origin and significance of the title with respect to the subject matter and provides his insight into the book’s telling of Butterfield’s story.

A Further Look at January 1973: A History Turning Month

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean continues his dialogue with attorney and author Jim Robenalt to discuss Robenalt’s new book, January 1973: Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month That Changed America Forever. In this second of a two-part series of columns, Robenalt focuses on new information he discovered relating to the history Roe v. Wade decision.

R.I.P. Stanley I. Kutler

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Former counsel to the president John W. Dean reflects on the life and achievements of American historian Stanley Kutler. Dean describes Stanley’s role in setting the public record straight with respect to Watergate and laments that the New York Times never seemed to quite understand Watergate, as evidenced by its gratuitously repeating a false charge about Stanley’s book in its obituary on him.