What 1970s Watergate Conspirator Was Born in Michigan?
This Saturday marks the birthday of one of the main figures in the early-mid 1970s Watergate scandal…Attorney General John Mitchell, born in Detroit, Michigan.
Mitchell came into the world on September 5, 1913. Some years later, his family moved to Queens, New York, where he spent his teen years.
Almost 60 years later, the Watergate break-in took place on June 17, 1972, with Mitchell an integral part of the conspiracy. His guilt was prevalent enough that he had his wife, Martha, kidnapped so she wouldn’t blab anything about it. He hired an FBI agent to keep her secluded and silent in a California hotel room.
While Martha was speaking with a reporter over the phone about the break-in, the agent yanked the phone out of the wall so she couldn’t continue. Martha ended up tussling with five aides in an attempt to escape; a psychiatrist was summoned to sedate her as she was being held down.
Covered in bruises and open wounds, Martha was further humiliated when the press was told she received these markings due to her alcoholism. In 1977, Richard Nixon told interviewer David Frost, “If it hadn't been for Martha Mitchell, there'd have been no Watergate."
John Mitchell was involved in slush funds, obstructing investigations, and other dirty work.
Finally, on February 21, 1975, Mitchell was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, and his part in planning the break-in of the Democratic headquarters. Sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison, Mitchell only served 19 months, getting an early release in 1979 based on medical problems. Mitchell was our only Attorney General to be thrown in prison, the last of 25 Watergate conspirators to be locked up. After release, he was disbarred.
As for his plot to kidnap his wife Martha, John Mitchell never had to stand trial. On November 9, 1988, he had a heart attack on the sidewalk at 2812 N Street NW in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. He died later at the hospital.