Jeb Stuart Magruder dies; Watergate conspirator became a minister
Jeb Stuart Magruder, a former White House aide and political operative who confessed to his role in the 1972 Watergate break-in, the bungled crime that he claimed — decades later — had been personally ordered by President Richard M. Nixon, died May 11 in Danbury, Conn. He was 79.
His death, from complications of a stroke.
Mr. Magruder served seven months in federal prison after admitting that he had helped plan the break-in of the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington and helped attempt to cover it up by lying to investigators and perjuring himself in court.
The scandal ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.
After his release, Mr. Magruder became an ordained Presbyterian minister and spoke publicly about the runaway ambition and unchecked loyalty that he said led him astray. He was convinced, he said, that “it’s a characteristic in American life that there is redemption.”
A former executive at cosmetics companies and Republican campaign staffer, Mr. Magruder joined the Nixon White House in 1969. Boyish and handsome, he served as deputy director of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President in 1972 and, after that, as director of the president’s inaugural committee.
As the Watergate drama unfolded, he became one of the first Nixon associates to “break ranks,” The Washington Post reported at the time, and provide investigators with evidence of the conspiracy.
“It has been nearly impossible,” he said at his sentencing, “for me to face the disappointment I see in the eyes of my friends, the confusion I see in the eyes of my children, the heartbreak I see in the eyes of my wife and, probably more difficult, the contempt I see in the eyes of others.”
“You cannot measure the impact on this administration or on this nation of Watergate,” he said. “But whatever the impact, I am confident that this country will survive its Watergates and its Jeb Magruders.”
On a more personal side-note, Magruder attended and graduated (albeit a few years earlier) the same high school as myself. Curtis High School on Staten Island.
Of the Watergate conspirators and assorted actors, I am aware of (G. Gordon)Liddy still being among the 'living' and James McCord as well. Not sure about any others.