James W. McCord Jr.

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James McCord
James Walter McCord Jr.

(1924-01-26)January 26, 1924
DiedJune 15, 2017(2017-06-15) (aged 93)
Other namesEd Martin[1]
EducationUniversity of Texas, Austin (BBA)
George Washington University (MS)
Occupation(s)former CIA officer and electronics expert
Known forParticipation in the Watergate Scandal
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
RankLieutenant Colonel
UnitUnited States Air Force Reserve

James Walter McCord Jr. (January 26, 1924 – June 15, 2017)[2] was an American CIA officer, later head of security for President Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. He was involved as an electronics expert in the burglaries which precipitated the Watergate scandal.[3]


McCord was born in Waurika, Oklahoma.[4][5] He served as a bombardier with the rank of second lieutenant in the Army Air Forces during World War II.[6] He briefly attended Baylor University before receiving a B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949.[7] In 1965, he received an M.S. in international affairs from George Washington University.[7][8] After beginning his career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), McCord worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), ultimately ascending to the GS-15 directorship of the Agency's Office of Security.[9]

For a period of time, he was in charge of physical security at the Agency's Langley headquarters.[10] L. Fletcher Prouty, a former colonel in the United States Air Force, claimed then-Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles introduced McCord to him as "my top man.".[11]

In 1961, under his direction, a counter-intelligence program was launched against the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.[12] He also held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve.[13]

John M. Newman says in his 2022 book, Uncovering Popov's Mole, that Bruce Solie and McCord were probably KGB "moles" in the CIA's Office of Security, and that McCord very likely protected Solie and another "mole," Pyotr Semyonovich Popov's honey-trapped and recruited-by-KGB dead drop arranger, Edward Ellis Smith, from being uncovered by U.S. Intelligence.[14]

Watergate scandal[edit]

Shortly after resigning from the CIA, McCord was interviewed and then hired by Jack Caulfield in January 1972 "for strict, solely defensive security work at the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CRP)."[15] Some of the money from this contract came from the RNC, which was led by Bob Dole who was called "Nixon's Doberman pinscher" and a Republican Party fixer, and was used during the Watergate scandal.[16] McCord and four other accomplices were arrested during the second break-in to the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. The arrests led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation.

McCord asserted that the White House knew of and approved the break ins, and proceeded to cover up the incident. Because of McCord's statements, the Watergate investigators pursued many more leads.[15]

McCord was one of the first men convicted in the Watergate criminal trial; on eight counts of conspiracy, burglary and wiretapping. On March 21, 1973, three days before sentencing, McCord, after speaking to a probation officer and thus surmising that he might be facing a lengthy prison sentence, submitted a letter to the judge in the case, John Sirica, in which he claimed that he and the other defendants had committed perjury in their trial and that there was pressure from higher up for them to have done so.[17] On March 23, the day of the sentencing, Sirica sentenced the other defendants provisionally, citing a statute that allowed for maximum sentences of several decades as a means to "research" more information needed for the final sentencing. This was a means to pressure the defendants into revealing more information about the burglary.[18] McCord's sentencing was postponed until June and then postponed again. Finally, in November 1973, McCord was sentenced to from one to five years [19] and began serving his sentence in March 1975, but was released after only four months because of his cooperation in the Watergate investigation.[20][21]


After serving four months in prison, McCord continued with McCord Associates, which was his own security firm located in Rockville, retiring later to Pennsylvania.[15][22][23]

McCord died at the age of 93 from pancreatic cancer on June 15, 2017, at his home in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. His death was not reported in local and national news outlets until 2019.[24][6]

McCord was portrayed in All the President's Men, the 1976 film retelling the events of the Watergate scandal, by Richard Herd.

McCord was portrayed in Gaslit, the 2022 television adaptation of the podcast Slow Burn by Chris Bauer,[25][26] and in the TV-series White House Plumbers he was portrayed by Toby Huss.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dean, John (1976). Blind Ambition: The White House Years. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 90. ISBN 0671224387.
  2. ^ "US Department of Veterans Affairs, Nation Cemetery Administration". Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  3. ^ Gerald Gold, ed. (1973). The Watergate hearings: break-in and cover-up; proceedings. New York: Viking Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-670-75152-9. OCLC 865966.
  4. ^ Dickinson, William B.; Mercer Cross; Barry Polsky (1973). Watergate: chronology of a crisis. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc. p. 40. ISBN 0871870592. OCLC 20974031. This book is volume 1 of a two volume set. Both volumes share the same ISBN and Library of Congress call number, E859 .C62 1973
  5. ^ Dash, Samuel, Mads (1976). Chief counsel: inside the Ervin Committee – the untold story of Watergate. New York: Random House. p. 59. ISBN 0394408535. OCLC 2388043.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b Langer, Emily; Smith, Harrison; Morgan, Kate (April 18, 2019). "Watergate conspirator James McCord Jr. died two years ago. His death was never announced". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Hearings Before and Special Reports Made by Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives on Subjects Affecting the Naval and Military Establishments. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1975.
  8. ^ The Michigan Journal. University of Michigan-Dearborn. 1974.
  9. ^ Edmund Callis Berkeley (1972). Computers and Automation. Edmund C. Berkeley and Associates.
  10. ^ Stafford T. Thomas (1983). The U.S. Intelligence Community. University Press of America. ISBN 978-0819130983.
  11. ^ "Key Watergate Figure". The New York Times. March 29, 1973. p. 28. Retrieved March 8, 2023.
  12. ^ Newman, John. Oswald and the CIA. p. 138.
  13. ^ United States. Congress. House. Government Operations (1972). U.S. Government Information Policies and Practices – problems of Congress in Obtaining Information from the Executive Branch: Hearings Before a Subcommittee. U.S. Government Printing Office.
  14. ^ Newman, John M. (2022). Uncovering Popov's Mole. United States: Self-published. pp. 280–281. ISBN 9798355050771.
  15. ^ a b c Fox, Steve, ed. (2002). "Revisiting Watergate: James McCord". Washington Post (updated May 2005). Archived from the original on September 12, 2005. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  16. ^ Fox, Steve, ed. (2002). "Revisiting Watergate: Bob Dole". Washington Post (updated May 2005). Archived from the original on September 12, 2005. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  17. ^ Sirica, John (1979). To Set the Record Straight. New York: Norton Publishing. pp. 93–97. ISBN 0393012344.
  18. ^ Sirica, John (1979). To Set the Record Straight. Norton. p. 90. ISBN 0393012344.
  19. ^ Sirica, p. 120
  20. ^ Popovici, Alice (September 27, 2018). "Watergate: Where are they now?". History.com. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  21. ^ "McCord surrenders at prison to begin Watergate sentence". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 22, 1975. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  22. ^ Marble, Steve (April 19, 2019). "The mysterious life of James McCord, Watergate burglar whose death went unnoticed for 2 years". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  23. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Last Word, Professor Murray Gell-Mann, Nan Winton, James McCord, Gregory Gray". Last Word. BBC Radio 4. 31 May 2019.
  24. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (April 18, 2019). "James W. McCord Jr., Who Led the Watergate Break-In, Is Dead at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  25. ^ Otterson, Joe (1 July 2021). "Allison Tolman, Chris Bauer Among Five Cast in Starz Watergate Series 'Gaslit'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation.
  26. ^ Petski, Denise (1 July 2021). "'Gaslit': Allison Tolman, J.C. MacKenzie, Chris Bauer, Hamish Linklater, Chris Messina Join Starz's Watergate Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
  27. ^ Kain, Erik (May 2, 2023). "'White House Plumbers' Review: Justin Theroux And Woody Harrelson Light Up HBO's New Watergate Comedy". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-05-29.


Further reading[edit]

McCord wrote a book about his connection with the Watergate burglary:

External links[edit]