Jeb Magruder Dies: Nixon Loyalist Went to Prison for Watergate

Image: Jeb Magruder Dies: Nixon Loyalist Went to Prison for Watergate

Friday, 16 May 2014 01:32 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Former Nixon administration aide Jeb Stuart Magruder, who went to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal that led to a president's resignation, died of complications from a stroke in Danbury, Connecticut. He was 79.

Magruder spent seven months in prison before his release in 1975 on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the cover-up of the 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the then Watergate building, according to Bloomberg News.

President Richard Nixon denied advance knowledge of the break-in and resigned under an impeachment threat on Aug. 9, 1974. In 2003, Magruder admitted that he heard Nixon tell former Attorney General John Mitchell, who was Nixon's re-election campaign head at the time, to move ahead with plans to break into the Democratic headquarters in a March 30, 1972, phone call, noted Bloomberg News.

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Magruder, a Nixon loyalist, served as aide to the president's chief of staff H.R. Haldeman and deputy communications director, as well as his deputy campaign director.

Magruder rehabilitated his life and became a senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, from 1990 to 1998, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"I never regretted that decision," Lexington lawyer Cecil F. Dunn told the Herald-Leader, who chaired the First Presbyterian's nominating committee that selected Magruder despite his national notoriety and connection with Watergate.

"We had 228 applications for the job, and his was the last to come in," Dunn noted, saying some did not make the Watergate connection at first. "His was an extremely good application. He knew how to write. He kept reaching out to us, and he made the final three. We were extremely impressed with him and his faith and gave him the job. It turned out to be good for him and for the church."

Magruder worked for Young Life, a ministry to high school students, after he was released from prison in 1975 and ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1984.

Magruder never returned to good health after suffering a stroke in July 2007 while traveling to Columbus, Ohio.

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