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OGC Key Personnel Archive - 1969-1970

Former General Counsel Robert C. Mardian

Former General Counsel Robert C. Mardian

General Counsel, DHEW, 1969-1970

Columbia University School of Law
University of Southern California

Nominated by President Richard Nixon
Served Under Secretary Robert H. Finch

Robert Mardian was appointed by Richard Nixon to serve as the General Counsel to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1969.

Before becoming General Counsel to the Department, Mr. Mardian was a member of President Nixon's Transition Team. After his tenure as General Counsel to DHEW, Mardain served as the Executive Director of the Cabinet Committee on Education and later as Assistant Attorney General.

Mardian is perhaps most well known as a minor figure in the Watergate affair. He was put on trial along with other Nixon aides for conspiring to hinder the Watergate investigation. Mardian at that time was head of the Justice Department's Internal Security Division. He was accused of destroying documents pertaining to the wire tapping of Daniel Ellsberg. The Department of Justice was preparing to prosecute Mr. Ellsberg for turning over classified documents, known as the "Pentagon Papers" to the New York Times, which had started to publish them.

The White House had ordered the wiretapping of several individuals, including ex-National Security Council official Morton Halperin as part of an attempt to trace the sources of published reports of confidential information involving strategic arms limitations talks. Several times during the 21 months Halperin's phone was tapped, Daniel Ellsberg had been overheard by F.B.I. agents as he talked to Mr. Halperin. Legal procedure required that a criminal defendant be informed if he had been overheard on an illegal government wiretap. However, informing Ellsberg of this would have disclosed the tap's existence. Mardian was accused of destroying the papers that documented the wiretapping in an attempt to conceal the administration's surveillance efforts.

On Jan. 1, 1975, Mr. Mardian was convicted on a single count of conspiring to obstruct justice and sentenced to 10 months to three years in prison. Mardian's conviction was overturned on appeal after his attorney successfully argued that Mardian did not receive a fair trial because he was deprived of his constitutional right to counsel of his choice.

Robert Mardian died July 17, 2006 at his vacation home in San Clemente, CA.

Presented for archival purposes. Current as of July 18, 2006.

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