John Dean

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, an associate director of a law reform commission, 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 he entered 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, with new extended afterword in 2010) and Lost Honor (1982).  After retiring from a business career as a private investment banker, he returned to writing best-selling books and lecturing, not to mention being a columnist for FindLaw's Writ (from 2000 to 2010). His most recent New York Times bestseller: The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (2014).

Other books include: The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment that Redefined the Supreme Court (2001), Warren G. Harding (2003), Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (2004), Conservatives Without Conscience (2006), Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches (2008), and Pure Goldwater (2009).

Currently, John holds the Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions at Arizona State University, where he lectures and teaches, while working on his next book. He is also a visiting scholar and lecturer at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications and an occasional television commentator. Whenever possible, John hopes to schedule further events in his extended continuing legal education (CLE) series that examines impact of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct on select historic events of Watergate with surprising results – The Watergate CLE.

Columns by John Dean

Trump Wants Immunity

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, comments on attempts by President Trump’s lawyers to defer civil lawsuits against him until after his presidency ends. Dean compares the lawsuit to similar ones filed against former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

Trump’s Divided White House—Bannonites vs. Priebusites: Will It Work?

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, explains why President Trump’s strategy of pitting his advisors against each other is likely to result in more chaos than good policy. Building upon the thesis of Chris Whipple’s upcoming book, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, Dean discusses the importance of the role of chief of staff and describes what happens when this position is empty or filled with someone not up to the job.

President Trump’s Tools to Prosecute Leakers

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, discusses President Trump’s recent comments regarding information leaks, one of which led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. While Dean explains that there is no official law in the United States that makes it a crime to leak information to the news media or others, many former U.S. presidents have made attempts to prosecute those who leaked information during their presidencies, with varying degrees of success. This, Dean notes, may lend credence to President Trump's threat of legal consequences, should the individuals responsible for these most recent leaks be identified.

Is President Trump Really Filling the Scalia Seat?

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, converses with author David Dorsen about whether President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is going to be ideologically consistent with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat Gorsuch would fill. Led by Dean’s questions, Dorsen explains that Scalia was not as across-the-board conservative as many thought him to be, and Gorsuch may not be either, at least not on topics such as trial by jury and double jeopardy.

Trump’s Business Conflicts: Total Divestiture Is His Only Answer

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, explains why President-elect Donald Trump must divest himself from ownership in any property or entity that his actions or decisions as president might benefit. Dean draws upon his experience in the Nixon White House to argue that anything less than complete divestiture will not suffice; such is the price of public service.

Trump’s Final Strategy to Win the White House

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, takes a close look at Donald Trump’s twofold strategy to win the election—Trump’s own electoral map, and his attempts to suppress voters. Dean argues that the only way for Trump to win is to bully his way into the White House, and Dean calls upon Democrats to prevent Trump and his supporters from using physical intimidation to suppress the vote.

“Prison for Hillary”

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, comments on Donald Trump’s recent calls for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton. Dean points out that jailing political opponents is a tactic of dictators, not democracies.

Seeking to Criminalize the Clinton Foundation—A Footnote

Former counsel to President Nixon, John W. Dean argues that comparisons between former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are inapt. Dean points out several ways in which Hillary’s behavior did not rise even to the level of that of McDonnell, and the U.S. Supreme Court found that even the latter did not support conviction.

The Outrageously False Charges of Perjury Against Hillary Clinton

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, discusses the charges of perjury and false statements brought against Hillary Clinton by congressional Republicans led by Bob Goodlatte and Jason Chaffetz. Dean closely scrutinizes the facts underlying the charges and concludes that the charges are utterly baseless and manifest an abuse of power beyond the pale of dirty politics.

The Trump University Lawsuit Continues

Former counsel to the President Nixon, John W. Dean comments on the recent developments in the class-action RICO lawsuit against Trump University. Dean argues that Judge Curiel’s latest actions in the case—denying TU’s motion for summary judgment and granting its request to keep sealed the video depositions of Trump—show that the judge is fair and just despite Trump’s claims to the contrary.

Melania Trump’s Plagiarism Fiasco

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, explains why Melania Trump’s plagiarism fiasco might not simply fade away, and he argues that it reveals more about Donald than Melania. Dean dissects the situation and the bogus responses by several people in or close to Trump’s campaign.

Hillary’s James Comey Nightmare Likely Continues

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, delves into the FBI’s findings regarding the Hillary Clinton classified email investigation, as explained in a recent statement by FBI Director James Comey. Dean further breaks down how the statements are likely to continue to adversely affect Clinton’s presidential campaign due to the vague nature of Comey's testimony, even after the FBI concluded that no reasonable prosecutor would pursue a criminal case on this matter.

United States et al. vs. Texas et al.: A Political Question for November

John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, explains the significance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s equal division in the immigration case United States v. Texas, which involved a challenge to the Obama administration’s sweeping immigration policy. Dean argues that the Court is effectively punting the political question of the immigration policy to the winner of the 2016 presidential election.