Watergate Conspirator Jeb Magruder Dead at 79

He said he heard Nixon himself authorize the break-in
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2014 3:25 PM CDT
Jeb Stuart Magruder in 1995.   (AP Photo/Breck Smither, File)

(Newser) – Jeb Stuart Magruder, a Watergate conspirator-turned-minister who claimed in later years to have heard President Nixon order the infamous break-in, has died at age 79. Magruder spent seven months in prison for lying about the involvement of Nixon's re-election committee in the 1972 break-in at Washington's Watergate complex, which eventually led to the president's resignation. Magruder, who moved to suburban Columbus in 2003, served as Nixon's deputy campaign director, an aide to Nixon Chief of Staff HR Haldeman, and deputy communications director at the White House.

Magruder said in 2003 that he was meeting with John Mitchell, the former attorney general running the Nixon re-election campaign, when he heard the president tell Mitchell to go ahead with the plan to break into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building. Magruder previously had gone no further than saying that Mitchell approved the plan to get into the Democrats' office and bug the telephone of the party chairman, Larry O'Brien. Magruder said he could hear Nixon tell Mitchell over the phone, "John, ... we need to get the information on Larry O'Brien, and the only way we can do that is through (G. Gordon) Liddy's plan. And you need to do that." Historians are skeptical, saying there was no evidence Nixon directly ordered the break-in.

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