John Dean, who was Richard Nixon's White House counsel during Watergate, has cleared the name of the former president's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, as a possible culprit in the erasure of 18 1/2 minutes of an important tape involved in the scandal.
"Dean told us there were at least five people who could have done it, but Woods was absolutely not one of them," WGN Radio's Bob Sirott told the Sun-Times' Michael Sneed after interviewing Dean about his new book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.
Dean had previously suggested that Woods, an Ohio native and sister of ex-Cook County Sheriff Joe Woods, a fixture of Chicago politics from 1966-1988, may have accidentally fudged audio of a conversation between Nixon and his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman that was recorded three days after the Democratic National Committee break-in. She accepted some of the blame. But deeper research revealed that she couldn't have, since the device she was working with lacked the ability to erase recordings.
Woods died in January 2005 at the age of 87. The disgraced former president considered her family, and when he decided to resign from office, he asked Woods to break the news to his wife and daughters.
It's a very Nixon news cycle, all around.