John Dean Testified Before the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee in 1973 — Did He Go to Jail?

Leila Kozma - Author

Jun. 6 2022, Published 12:15 p.m. ET

John Dean
Source: Getty Images

Starring Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, and Dan Stevens in the lead roles, Gaslit on Starz offers a glimpse into the extraordinary life of Martha Mitchell, the socialite who was kidnapped in an attempt to stop her from breaking the news about the Watergate break-in.

Season 1, Episodes 6 and 7 of Gaslit capture the testimonies Martha, John Dean (an attorney who served as the White House counsel between 1970 and 1973), and others gave in front of the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

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Season 1, Episode 7 of 'Gaslit' finds John Dean in prison. What happened to him in real life? Did he go to jail after Watergate?

Season 1, Episodes 6 and 7 of Gaslit focus on the Senate hearings beginning on May 17, 1973.

In the series, John Dean ends up in jail — which is exactly what happened in real life. Dean got fired from his role as the White House counsel on April 30, 1973. John D. Ehrlichman's and H.R. "Bob" Haldeman's resignations were announced the same day.

John Dean
Source: Getty Images
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Dean began his testimony on June 25, 1973. He pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice on Oct. 19, 1973, and he was sentenced to one to four years in prison on Aug. 2, 1974. A lawyer, he was disbarred from practicing in Washington D.C. and Virginia.

Dean struck up a nifty deal, agreeing to serve as a key witness for the prosecution in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. Dean spent four months in jail. He was released on Jan. 8, 1975. Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and John Mitchell — the trio the Richard Nixon Foundation describes as the architects of the Watergate break-in — served 18, 18, and 19 months in prison, respectively.

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Alexander Butterfield confirmed that former U.S. President Richard Nixon had a taping system installed in the White House.

According to History, Dean was the first member of the Nixon administration to mention the taping system former U.S. President Richard Nixon had installed in the White House. Alexander Butterfield, who served as a deputy assistant to Nixon between 1969 and 1973, confirmed Dean's hypothesis on July 16, 1973.

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What happened to John Mitchell after Watergate? Did he have to go to jail?

John Mitchell was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury in April 1974. He was convicted and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison in 1975, which commenced on June 22, 1977. Mitchell was the first (and only) U.S. Attorney General to end up in jail.

He served his prison sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Ala., a minimum-security federal prison. He was released on parole for medical reasons in January 1979. Mitchell and his wife, Martha, opted for separation in September 1973 — months after Martha gave a testimony to the U. S. Senate Watergate Committee.

New episodes of Gaslit air Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on Starz.

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