John Daniel Ehrlichman (
March 20, 1925– February 14, 1999) was counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon. He was a key figure in events leading to the Watergate first break-inand the ensuing Watergate scandal, for which he was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justiceand perjury. He served a year and a half in prison for his crimes.
Tacoma, Washington, Ehrlichman was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. In World War II, Ehrlichman won the Distinguished Flying Cross as a lead B-17 navigator in the Eighth Air Force. After the war, he enrolled in UCLA, graduating in 1948. After graduating from Stanford Law Schoolin 1951, he joined a Seattle law firm, becoming a partner, where he remained until 1968 when he entered politics full-time. He was a devout Christian Scientist.
Ehrlichman worked on Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign, 1962
California gubernatorialcampaign and was an advance man for Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.
Following Nixon's victory, Ehrlichman became the White House Counsel (later replaced by
John Dean). He held this post for about a year before he became the Chief Domestic Advisor for Nixon. It was then that he became a member of the inner circleof Nixon's closest advisors. He and a close friend, H. R. Haldeman, whom he met at UCLA, were referred to jointly as "The Berlin Wall" by White Housestaffers because of their German last names and their penchant for isolating Nixon from other advisors and anyone seeking an audience with him. Ehrlichman created "The Plumbers", the group at the center of the Watergate scandal, and appointed his assistant Egil Kroghto oversee its covert operations, focusing on stopping leaks of confidential information after the release of The Pentagon Papers in 1971.
After the start of the Watergate investigations in 1972, Ehrlichman lobbied for an intentional delay in the embattled confirmation of
L. Patrick Grayas Director of the F.B.I.. He argued that the confirmation hearings were deflecting media attention from Watergate and that it would be better for Gray to be left "twisting, slowly, slowly in the wind." The quote served as the embodiment of one of Ehrlichman's main functions during his years in the White House, to seek and destroy Nixon's enemies at virtually any cost, a function that would overshadow his domestic efforts in a White House consumed with foreign policy. White House Counsel John Deancited the "Berlin Wall" of Ehrlichman and Haldeman as one of the reasons for his growing sense of alienation in the White House. This alienation led him to believe he was to become the Watergate scapegoatand then to eventually cooperate with Watergate prosecutors. After Dean's testimony before the Senate Watergate CommitteeNixon fired Dean and demanded the resignations of both Ehrlichman and Haldeman on April 30, 1973. Both men complied.
Ehrlichman was convicted of conspiracy,
obstruction of justice, perjuryand other charges on January 1, 1975(along with John N. Mitchelland Haldeman). All three men were initially sentenced to between two and a half and eight years in prison. In 1977, the sentences were commuted to one to four years. Unlike his co-defendants, Ehrlichman voluntarily entered prison before his appeals were exhausted. He was released from the Federal Correctional Institution - Safford [http://www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/saf/index.jsp] , after serving a total of 18 months.
Following his release from prison, Ehrlichman held a number of jobs, first for a
quality controlfirm, then writer, artist and commentator. Ehrlichman wrote several novels and served as the executive vice president of an Atlantahazardous materials firm. In a 1981 interview, Ehrlichman referred to Nixon as "a very pathetic figure in American history." His experiences in the Nixon administration were published in his 1982 book, "Witness To Power". The book portrays Nixon in a very negative light and is considered to be the culmination of his frustration at not being pardoned by Nixon prior to his own resignation. Shortly before his death, Ehrlichman teamed with novelist Tom Clancyto write, produce, and co-host a three hour Watergate documentary, "John Ehrlichman: In the Eye of the Storm". The finished, but never broadcast, documentary, associated papers, and videotape elements (including an interview Ehrlichman did with Bob Woodwardas part of the project) is housed at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, at the University of Georgiain Athens.
Ehrlichman died of complications from
diabetesin Atlanta in 1999 after discontinuing dialysistreatments.
* [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000806969|Revealed: John Ehrlichman Believed Henry Kissinger was Deep Throat] , an article from "
Editor & Publisher"
Ehrlichman John D. "Witness to Power: The Nixon Years." New York: Pocket Books, 1982.
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