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article imageWatergate conspirator Jeb Magruder dies at 79

By Nathan Salant     May 18, 2014 in World
Danbury - Watergate conspirator Jeb Stuart Magruder, who became a minister after serving time in prison for his role in the scandal that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency in 1974, has died.
Watergate conspirator Jeb Stuart Magruder, who became a minister after serving time in prison for his role in the scandal that forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency in 1974, has died.
Magruder, who claimed decades later to have heard Nixon personally approve the break-in at Democratic Party campaign headquarters that led to the scandal, died May 11 in Danbury, Conn., according to the Associated Press.
He was 79.
Magruder, a businessman who became a trusted member of Nixon's re-election committee and later served in the White House, died of complications from a stroke, the AP said.
Magruder served seven months in federal prison after pleading guilty to lying to a court and to Congress about the break-in and subsequent coverup that drove Nixon from office, the AP said.
In 2008, Magruder told the AP after pleading guilty to a negligence charge following a 2007 car accident that he was no longer stressed about Watergate and accepted his place in the nation's history.
“I don’t worry about Watergate, I don’t worry about news articles,” he said.
“I go to the court, I’m going to be in the paper — I know that,” Magruder said.
After prison, Magruder became a born-again Christian and wrote about the experience in his 1978 biorgraphy, “From Power to Peace,” the AP said.
“All the earthly supports I had ever known had given way, and when I saw how flimsy they were I understood why they had never been able to make me happy,” Magruder said in the book.
“The missing ingredient in my life was Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with him,” Magruder said.
Magruder served as a minister in California, Ohio and Kentucky, and later as a church fundraising consultans, the AP said.
In 2003, Magruder claimed for the first time that he had heard Nixon personally order the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building during a meeting with former US Attorney General John Mitchell.
Magruder had previously admitted only that Mitchell had approved the plan to break into the campaign office and bug the phone of party chairman Larry O'Brien, the AP said.
But historians have consistently discounted Magruder's claim and say there is no evidence that Nixon was personally involved in the break-in.
In his 1974 book, “An American Life: One Man’s Road to Watergate,” Magruder said he became involved in scandal due to ambition and losing his moral compass.
“Instead of applying our private morality to public affairs, we accepted the President’s standards of political behavior, and the results were tragic for him and for us,” Magruder said.
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