John Wesley Dean was born in Akron, Ohio, on 14th October, 1938. He did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University. This was followed by a graduate fellowship from American University to study government and the presidency. He then entered the Georgetown University Law Center and he received his JD in 1965.
In July, 1970, Richard Nixon appointed him Counsel to the President. Other posts included Chief Minority Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, the Associate Director of a law reform commission, and Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States.
On 3rd July, 1972, Frank Sturgis, Virgilio Gonzalez, Eugenio Martinez, Bernard L. Barker and James W. McCord were arrested while removing electronic devices from the Democratic Party campaign offices in an apartment block called Watergate. It appeared that the men had been to wiretap the conversations of Larry O'Brien, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
The phone number of E.Howard Hunt was found in address books of the burglars. Reporters were now able to link the break-in to the White House. Bob Woodward, a reporter working for the Washington Post was told by a friend who was employed by the government, that senior aides of President Richard Nixon, had paid the burglars to obtain information about its political opponents.
In 1972 Nixon was once again selected as the Republican presidential candidate. On 7th November, Nixon easily won the the election with 61 per cent of the popular vote. Soon after the election reports by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, began to claim that some of Nixon's top officials were involved in organizing the Watergate break-in.
On February 28, 1973, FBI Director L. Patrick Gray, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding his nomination to replace J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the FBI. Sam Ervin, questioned Gray about Watergate. Gray admitted that he had discussed the FBI investigation with Dean on many occasions. Gray's nomination failed and Dean was directly linked to the Watergate cover up.
In April, 1973, Richard Nixon decided to try and force Dean, John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman, to resign. Dean refused to go and was sacked. Dean issued a statement making it clear that he was unwilling to be a "scapegoat in the Watergate case". When Dean testified on 25th June, 1973 before the Senate Committee investigating Watergate, he claimed that Nixon participated in the cover-up. He also confirmed that Nixon had tape-recordings of meetings where these issues were discussed.
The Special Prosecutor now demanded access to these tape-recordings. At first Nixon refused but when the Supreme Court ruled against him and members of the Senate began calling for him to be impeached, he changed his mind. However, some tapes were missing while others contained important gaps.
Under extreme pressure, Richard Nixon supplied tapescripts of the missing tapes. It was now clear that Nixon had been involved in the cover-up and members of the Senate began to call for his impeachment. On 9th August, 1974, Nixon became the first President of the United States to resign from office.
Nixon was granted a pardon but despite Dean's full confession he was sentenced to one to four years for conspiracy to obstruct justice and to defraud the government. He served four months of his sentence. After his release Dean has written many articles on law, government, and politics. His books on Watergate include Blind Ambition: The End of the Story (1976) and Lost Honor: The Rest of the Story (1982).
In 1992 he began legal action against Gordon Liddy and Len Colodny. Dean objected to information that appeared in books by Liddy (Will) and Colodny (Silent Coup: The Removal Richard Nixon) that claimed that Dean was the mastermind of the Watergate burglaries and the true target of the break-in was to destroy information implicating him and his wife in a prostitution ring. The case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Baltimore after jurors could not reach a verdict. The publisher of Colodny settled a similar suit by Dean and his wife for an unknown amount of money.
Other books by Dean include The Rehnquist Choice: The Untold Story of the Nixon Appointment that Redefined the Supreme Court (2001), Unmasking Deep Throat (2002), Warren G. Harding (2004) and Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (2005).