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

An Era of Unchecked Presidential Primaries

Former counsel to the president John W. Dean comments on the current role of the national political parties in presidential campaign politics. Dean argues that both Sanders and Trump illustrate candidates’ declining need for the support—financial or otherwise—of the national parties in order to excel in the primary process.

Game’s On: Big Leaguers Zimmerman & Howard Versus Al Jazeera

Former counsel to the president John W. Dean continues his discussion of the defamation lawsuits filed by Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and by Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman against Al Jazeera America (AJAM). Dean assesses defendant AJAM’s motions to dismiss both cases for failure to describe facts that give rise to a plausible entitlement to relief, a requirement under federal law.

“Spotlight” Makers Munch a Little Crow

Former counsel to the president John W. Dean discusses the defamation action brought by Boston College public affairs director Jack Dunn over his portrayal in the Academy Award winning film “Spotlight.” Dean expresses surprise that the Academy would award the honor of Best Picture to a film that twisted facts for dramatic gain at the expense of at least one person’s reputation and suggests that the Academy should consult fact checkers as part of its film evaluation process.

Heading for The Dark Side of Journalism

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”?

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

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

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?

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

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

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.