This is the grave of a lovely criminal named John Mitchell.
Born in Detroit in 1913, he grew up in Queens, went to Fordham and stayed there for law school, and was admitted to the bar in New York in 1938. During World War II, he commanded a PT boat. He returned and became a well-connected lawyer with ties in the Republican Party, particularly members of the Eisenhower administration. This put Mitchell in touch with a kind, gentle man named Richard Nixon. After Nixon’s 1960 defeat to John F. Kennedy, he took a job with the law firm where Mitchell worked.
When Nixon decided to run for president in 1968, he asked Mitchell to be his campaign manager. This was new territory for Mitchell. While he was quite conservative and of course close to Nixon, did he want to expose himself like this? He eventually said yes and was immediately involved in Nixon and Kissinger’s treasonous operation to blow up the Paris Peace Accords that could have ended the Vietnam War but which would not have helped Nixon become president. This did not bode well for Mitchell’s future.
When Nixon became president, he named Mitchell Attorney General and then asked J. Edgar Hoover to not run a background check on Mitchell. Great sign of things to come. Mitchell was one of the worst people to serve as Attorney General in our history. For him, the Constitution was a document to be torn up when inconvenient for the president. He was all about restricting civil liberties. He advocated for the use of illegal wiretaps for national security without a court order, which the Supreme Court tossed out on Fourth Amendment grounds in United States v. U.S. District Court. He fought for “preventive detention” of people likely to commit criminal acts, a principle with no possible down side. He saw antiwar protestors as the modern equivalent of Nazis. He hated the idea of the Justice Department enforcing civil rights legislation, working with Nixon to slow down any real desegregation of American schools until the federal courts directly intervened and told him he had to move the process forward. No-knock warrants were a passion for Mitchell and he wanted to call out the military for use in crime prevention in Washington, D.C., by which he meant the incarceration of black people for nothing.
In short, as Mitchell told a reporter, “This country is going so far to the right you won’t recognize it.” Indeed and alas.
Mitchell was also a supreme ratfucker. He had $10,000 run through an American Nazi Party effort to get George Wallace on the ballot in California, for example. Mitchell resigned as AG in 1972 to run Nixon’s re-election campaign, the Committee to Re-Elect the President, with the most appropriate acronym in American history. And run it he did. He was in the middle of Watergate from the beginning. He was in the meeting where G. Gordon Liddy laid out his plans to conduct illegal activities against the Democratic Party. While Mitchell saw Liddy’s plans as unrealistic, he did directly approve of a reduced set of plans, including the Watergate burglary. A few days after the Watergate break in, Mitchell, who evidently didn’t trust his own well-connected wife, told the FBI to watch her. She was convinced from the beginning that Nixon was involved and didn’t mind telling people that, especially because she feared Nixon would make John Mitchell the scapegoat. So when Helen Thomas called to talk about the case, the agent walked in the house, ripped the phone from the wall, and kidnapped her. She struggled, had to be sedated, and ended up a drugged mess in a hotel room and requiring stiches. Nixon said publicly she had a drinking problem. Mitchell was completely fine with all of this happening to his wife.
As the noose slowly tightened around the Watergate neck, Mitchell was right there with Nixon planning the coverup. When the Washington Post was about to run a story about Mitchell’s slush fund to undermine Democrats, he told Carl Bernstein, “Katie’s Graham‘s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published.” Mitchell’s role in Watergate and the coverup was so deep that he was one of the only people to serve serious time. It was Jeb Magruder who finally rolled on Mitchell, In 1975, he was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. He was sentenced to between 2 1/2 and 8 years, though that was later reduced to be between 1 and 4 years. In fact, he only served 19 months, which was the third most of anyone implicated in Watergate, only behind Liddy and Howard Hunt. But he was still discredited. New York disbarred him. But he was still a big time Republican insider and serving time for Watergate certainly didn’t hurt him with those people. He dropped dead of a heart attack while taking a walk in 1988. He was 75.
John Mitchell is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. You’d like to think that there is a basic standard to be buried in Arlington that would include not trying to steal elections by tearing up the Constitution, but I guess not.
If you would like this series to cover more figures from Watergate, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Both Haldeman and Ehrlichman were cremated, which is really too bad. Those guys sucked on everything. Howard Hunt is in Hamburg, New York and Jeb Magruder is also at Arlington, so maybe I will have to go say hi next time I am in the area. Previous posts in this series are archived here.