|This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (January 2011)|
|Richard G. Kleindienst|
|68th United States Attorney General|
June 12, 1972 (March 1, 1972 acting) – April 30, 1973
|Preceded by||John N. Mitchell|
|Succeeded by||Elliot L. Richardson|
|Born||August 5, 1923|
Winslow, Arizona, U.S.
|Died||February 3, 2000 (aged 76)|
Prescott, Arizona, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Corps|
|Years of service||1943-1946|
Richard Gordon Kleindienst (1923–2000) was an American lawyer and politician, and, in the Watergate political scandal one of the two U.S. Attorney Generals ever, as of September 2012[update], convicted of perjury committed in connection with that role or the presidency.
He was born August 5, 1923 in Winslow, Arizona. He served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946, and attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, graduating from the latter in 1950.
From 1953 to 1954 he served in the Arizona House of Representatives; he followed that with some 15 years of private legal practice. He concurrently was Arizona Republican Party chairman from 1956 to 1960 and 1961 to 1963, and in 1964, the Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona, losing the general election to Sam Goddard, 53%-47%.
Nixon administration[edit | edit source]
He suspended his private practice in 1969 to accept the post of Deputy Attorney General of the United States. This gave him responsibilities related to the government's suit against ITT, and Nixon and his aide John Ehrlichman told him to drop the case, which created a presumption that they were violating their obligations under legal ethics and that, as an attorney himself, Kleindienst was obligated to report these ethical lapses to the state bars in the jurisdictions involved. In his official role he also repeatedly told Congress no one had interfered with his department's handling of the case.
Unknown to Kleindienst, leaders of Committee to Re-elect the President had tasked Gordon Liddy with arranging various covert operations, one of which was to be a burglary of a Democratic headquarters in Washington, DC. Before dawn on a Saturday, five days after Kleindienst's nomination, James McCord and four other burglars operating on Liddy's instructions were arrested at Watergate complex, and later in the morning Kleindienst was officially notified of the arrests. Liddy, after a phone consultation about the arrests with CRP Deputy Director Jeb Magruder (who had managed the CRP up until March of that year, and had the most direct organizational authority over Liddy's activities), personally approached Kleindienst the same day at a private golf club in Bethesda, Maryland. Liddy told him that the break-in had originated within the CRP, and that Kleindienst should arrange the release of the burglars, to reduce the risk of exposure of CRP's involvement. Kleindienst is not known to have made any such attempts.
He returned to private practice. He was convicted[when?] of a misdemeanor for perjury[clarification needed] during his testimony in the Senate confirmation hearings. He was fined $100 and given a suspended jail sentence by a judge who described him as a person of high ethical nature, and said his crime was that he was too loyal.
Later life[edit | edit source]
Eight years later,[when?] Kleindienst had a second brush with ethical charges. Said to have perjured himself to the Arizona Bar regarding how much he knew about a white-collar criminal he represented, he was cleared.[vague]
He died at the age of 76, of lung cancer, on February 3, 2000.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Kleindienst, Richard (1985). Justice: The Memoirs of Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books. ISBN 0-915463-15-6.
New York Times digital archive, February 3, 2000, "Richard G. Kleindienst, Figure in Watergate Era, Dies at 76."
For Kleindienst's limited role in Watergate, see Leon Jaworski, The Right and the Power, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, All the President's Men. Had he taken more of a role, the break-in would probably never have led to much of a cover-up, except by lower level workers and John Mitchell.
[edit | edit source]
|United States Deputy Attorney General
Served under: Richard Nixon
Ralph E. Erickson
John N. Mitchell
|United States Attorney General
Served under: Richard Nixon