- Category : 1913-births
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Consciousness 3
American government official, a successful Wall Street lawyer who was a law-partner of Richard Nixon prior to taking over Nixon's presidential campaign in 1968. Once Nixon was elected, Mitchell was named the Attorney General in Nixon's cabinet. In June 1977, however, he was sentenced to prison for convictions handed down to him as a result of the Watergate scandal.
John Mitchell was the son of Joseph C. and Margaret McMahon Mitchell. He grew up in Blue Point and Pachogue, Long Island, and Queens, New York. He recalled a happy childhood filled with swimming, fishing, baseball and hockey.
In 1938, after graduating from Jamaica High School and Fordham University Law School, Mitchell joined the firm of Caldwell & Raymond. This firm specialized in the highly political area of municipal and state bond financing. In 1960, Mitchell devised "moral obligation" bonds for Governor Nelson Rockefeller to avoid the more stringent requirements for "full faith and obligation" bonds of the state.
Mitchell had a slight connection to future president John F. Kennedy as a naval officer in World War II. He commanded squadrons of torpedo boats, one of which was skippered by Kennedy. The acquaintance did not last. However, Mitchell very quickly befriended another future president, Richard Nixon, when their law firms merged on 1 January 1967 becoming Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Mitchell. Later in 1967, Nixon convinced Mitchell to become his campaign manager. Mitchell said: "I did it because I believed in the cause and the individual."
As an example of the "dirty tricks" that would later mark the presidential term, early on in the campaign, Mitchell approved a $10,000 subsidy to hire an American Nazi faction in a bizarre effort to get Governor George Wallace off the ballot in California. That effort failed: however, the campaign succeeded and Nixon was elected. After Nixon took office in 1969, he appointed his friend John Mitchell as attorney general. Mitchell strove to fight against urban crime, black unrest, and Vietnam War resistance. "This country is going so far to the right you won’t recognize it," he told one reporter.
Mitchell was widely credited with the Supreme Court nominations of two justices who were rejected as unfit by the Senate. Mrs. Mitchell, who had been an active lobbyist for the nominations, then telephoned the Arkansas Gazette. She said: "I want you to crucify Fulbright," referring to former Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas. When asked if her blunt comments might embarrass her husband, she replied: "These things that I do are the only fun the poor man has." Mr. Mitchell did not disagree at that time. He said: "I get a great kick out of all this. I love it."
The 1970 Congressional elections and the polls showing Democratic front-runner, Senator Edmund Muskie, leading the President 47 percent to 39 percent were a setback to the administration. This position led to a series of fateful activities, including espionage, forged letters and sabotage directed against Muskie, who eventually withdrew from the campaign, and also against other potential candidates. Mitchell had the task, unofficially at first, of organizing the Committee for the Re-election of the President, known as Creep. Its secret and public funds, collected by the finance chairman, Maurice Stans, were also Mitchell’s responsibility.
While still Attorney General in December 1971, Mitchell approved the appointment of G. Gordon Liddy as general counsel to Nixon’s re-election committee. Mitchell stated later that he should have thrown Liddy out the window. The fateful bungled burglary at the Democratic national headquarters in the Watergate complex took place on 16 June 1972. A subsequent cover-up began. Mitchell resigned from the re-election committee on 1 July, giving the reason that he needed to choose between his family and politics. He was succeeded as attorney general in 1972 by Richard Kliendienst.
Allegedly, the White House advisers agreed that it would be best for Mitchell to take the blame. Mitchell declined the opportunity. His wife Martha publicly called for the President’s resignation, claiming that he knew what was going on all along. This time, Mitchell disagreed with his wife, saying she was speaking under stress. According to friends, Mitchell’s refusal to part ways with Nixon destroyed his marriage. The Mitchells separated in 1974.
Mitchell went on trial for his role in the scandal in late 1974. He refused to criticize Nixon in his testimony and denied most of the charges. He was convicted on 1 January 1975 on all counts, along with Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mardian. Sentenced to 30 months to 8 years in prison, Mitchell joked with reporters: "It could have been a hell of a lot worse. They could have sentenced me to spend the rest of my life with Martha."
Mitchell was a tall, athletic man (who played semi-professional hockey in his younger days), with high forehead, strong nose, thin lips and small eyes under bushy brows. Nicknamed "Big John," he was known as the strong man of the first Nixon administration. Thought by many to be cold and reserved, his protégé, Jeb Stuart Magruder, called him "a father figure" to the younger men around him.
Mitchell married Martha Beall Jennings, a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1957 after both had divorced their first spouses. He had two children from his previous marriage; she had one child. Together they had a daughter, Martha, in 1961.
Martha Mitchell died of bone cancer on Memorial Day, 1976. Her physician had asked that Mr. Mitchell stay away during her final illness, so that he didn’t upset her. He and her children attended the funeral in Pine Bluff.
John Mitchell died in the evening on 9 November 1988 at George Washington University Hospital after suffering a heart attack on a sidewalk in Georgetown. He was 75 years old.