Jeb Stuart Magruder

From Academic Kids

Jeb Magruder, , .
Jeb Magruder, January 31, 1970.

Jeb Stuart Magruder (born November 5, 1934, New York City) was the second official in the administration of President Richard Nixon (the first was Fred LaRue) to plead guilty to charges of involvement in the Watergate scandal.

Magruder's first major political job was managing the successful run of Donald Rumsfeld for the House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962. Magruder was appointed to the White House staff in 1969 as Special Assistant to the President. He worked for H.R. Haldeman and Herbert Klein, Nixon's Communications Director for the Executive Branch. Magruder served in the White House until 1971, when he left to manage the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) as Deputy Director, and assistant to CRP Director and former Attorney General John N. Mitchell. The campaign to re-elect the President was extraordinarily successful, winning 49 of 50 states and the District of Columbia, and Magruder went on to manage Nixon's inauguration in January 1973 as Inaugural Director.

In April 1973, Magruder began cooperating with federal prosecutors. In exchange, Magruder was allowed to plead guilty in August 1973 to a one-count indictment of conspiracy to obstruct justice, defraud the United States, and eavesdrop on the Democratic Party's national headquarters. On May 21, 1974, Magruder was sentenced by Judge John Sirica to 4 months to 10 years for his role in the failed Watergate burglary and subsequent coverup; he served seven months of the sentence in a prison near Allenwood, Pennsylvania. After his sentencing, Magruder said, "I am confident that this country will survive its Watergates and its Jeb Magruders."

Magruder was the only direct participant in the scandal to confirm that President Nixon had specific foreknowledge of the Watergate break-in, and that Nixon actually directed Mitchell to proceed with the break-in, which was organized by G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt. Magruder also testified that he thought that he was helping establish what he perceived to be a legal intelligence-gathering operation. In May 1983, President Ronald Reagan refused a request from Magruder for a pardon.

A former marketing executive, Magruder was 34 years old when he joined the White House staff. He was educated at Williams College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts and the University of Chicago, where he picked up a Master of Business Administration degree. Magruder also served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Korea. After the Watergate scandal, he left politics and business, earned a Masters Degree in Divinity from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1981, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He served as associate minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Burlingame, California and First Community Church of Columbus, Ohio (where for a period of time Magruder chaired that city's Commission on Ethics and Values), and in 1990 became senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Lexington, Kentucky. In 1995, Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones reinstated Magruder's right to run for public office in the state.

In 1974, Magruder wrote a book about his involvement in the Watergate scandal called An American Life: One Man's Road to Watergate. He also wrote "From Power to Peace" in 1976, about the reaffirmation of his Christian faith after the scandal.

In 2003, Magruder asserted in a PBS documentary called Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History, and in an interview with the Associated Press, that Nixon knew about the Watergate burglary from the beginning, which contradicted his earlier insistence that the cover-up had gone no higher than Mitchell. Magruder said in the 2003 interviews that he attended a meeting with Mitchell on March 30, 1972, at which he heard Nixon tell Mitchell over the phone to go ahead with the Watergate plan. Co-Conspirator John Dean and the lead counsel for the Senate Watergate Hearings, Democrat Sam Dash, speculated that Magruder's revised story seemed accurate, and that it was a reasonable act by Magruder to set the record straight.


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