Fifty years ago this week, a botched burglary at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, DC touched off a criminal conspiracy that eventually brought down the president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.
It’s the scandal that to this day is simply known by the name of the office complex where the burglary occurred: Watergate.
All this week on Now I’ve Heard Everything we’re featuring interviews I’ve done with figures connected to Watergate. Our last episode featured former Washington Post editor Ben Bradley. On Friday, my conversation with the mastermind of the burglary, G. Gordon Liddy.
One of Nixon’s loyalists at the center of everything was his White House counsel, a young lawyer named John Dean.
As the investigation into the cover-up began to widen, Dean quietly began cooperating with prosecutors.
Later, famously, Dean was heard on a White House tape telling the president:
Dean recounted that episode in his congressional testimony:
After serving a brief prison sentence for his role in Watergate, Dean wrote several best-selling books, and his political views changed, as well.
And in the last 20 years, Dean has become a strong voice against what he sees as the authoritarian nature of the modern conservative movement – Republicans, in particular
In 2005, Dean wrote a book called Worse Than Watergate, which was followed in 2006 by one called Conservatives Without Conscience. And that’s when I met him.
And then we talked again a year later, when he wrote what was the third book in his trilogy.
So what you’ll hear now is first an excerpt from my 2006 interview, then after a short break, my 2007 conversation with John Dean:
John Dean is 83 now. His last book, Authoritarian Nightmare, was published in 2020.