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Richard Kleindienst

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Title: Richard Kleindienst  
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Subject: John N. Mitchell, Elliot Richardson, L. Patrick Gray, William P. Rogers, United States Attorney General
Collection: 1923 Births, 2000 Deaths, American Episcopalians, American Military Personnel of World War II, American People of Dutch Descent, American Perjurers, Arizona Republicans, Cancer Deaths in Arizona, Deaths from Lung Cancer, Harvard Law School Alumni, Harvard University Alumni, Members of the Arizona House of Representatives, Nixon Administration Cabinet Members, People Associated with the Watergate Scandal, People from Prescott, Arizona, People from Winslow, Arizona, United States Army Air Forces Soldiers, United States Attorneys General, United States Deputy Attorneys General
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Richard Kleindienst

Richard Kleindienst
68th United States Attorney General
In office
June 12, 1972 – April 30, 1973
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by John Mitchell
Succeeded by Elliot Richardson
United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
January 20, 1969 – June 12, 1972
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Warren Christopher
Succeeded by Ralph Erickson
Personal details
Born Richard Gordon Kleindienst
(1923-08-05)August 5, 1923
Winslow, Arizona, U.S.
Died February 3, 2000(2000-02-03) (aged 76)
Prescott, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Margaret Dunbar
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B., J.D.)
Religion Episcopalianism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Unit United States Army Air Corps

Richard Gordon Kleindienst (August 5, 1923 – February 3, 2000) was an American lawyer, politician, and a U.S. Attorney General during the Watergate political scandal.[1]


  • Early life and career 1
  • Nixon administration 2
  • Later life 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and career

He was born August 5, 1923, in Winslow, Arizona, the son of Gladys (Love) and Alfred R. Kleindienst.[2] 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

He suspended his private practice in 1969 to accept the post of Deputy Attorney General of the United States. This gave him responsibilities relating to the government's suit against ITT. Nixon and his aide John Ehrlichman told him to drop the case; this 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.

On June 12, 1972, US Atty. Gen. John N. Mitchell resigned to work in the Nixon re-election campaign and President Richard Nixon nominated Kleindienst to succeed Mitchell.

Unknown to Kleindienst, leaders of the 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. But Kleindienst refused and ordered that the Watergate burglary investigation proceed like any other case.

Kleindienst resigned in the midst of the Watergate scandal nearly a year later, on April 30, 1973. This was the same day that John Dean was fired and H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman quit.

He returned to private practice. In 1974, he pleaded guilty to failing to testify fully to the Senate in a pre-Watergate investigation, involving alleged favoritism shown to International Telephone & Telegraph Corp, during his testimony in his Senate confirmation hearings.[3]

Later life

In 1982, Kleindienst was accused of having perjured himself to the Arizona Bar regarding how much he knew about a white-collar criminal he represented. He was cleared of all criminal charges brought against him.

He died at the age of 76, of lung cancer, on February 3, 2000.



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^


  • Kleindienst, Richard (1985). Justice: The Memoirs of Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books.  
  • 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.

External links

  • American National Biography Online: Kleindienst, Richard G.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Fannin
Republican nominee for Governor of Arizona
Succeeded by
Jack Williams
Legal offices
Preceded by
Warren Christopher
United States Deputy Attorney General
Succeeded by
Ralph Erickson
Preceded by
John Mitchell
United States Attorney General
Succeeded by
Elliot Richardson
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