John M. Dowd
John M. Dowd
John Maguire Dowd
February 11, 1941
|Education||Southern Benedictine College (BA)|
Emory University (JD)
|Known for||Dowd Report|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
John Maguire Dowd (born February 11, 1941) is an American lawyer, former attorney for the United States Department of Justice, and former Marine Corps JAG. Dowd was employed by several law firms in the Washington, D.C. area for his expertise in defending clients accused of white-collar crimes. He was appointed by Major League Baseball (MLB) to lead the special counsel in multiple investigations with the organization in the 1980s and 1990s involving sports betting and bribery, the most notable investigation being the Dowd Report in 1989, which resulted in Pete Rose being banned from baseball for life.
From June 2017 to March 2018, Dowd was a legal advisor to President Donald Trump. On March 22, 2018, Dowd resigned as Trump's lead counsel in the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference and possible ties to Trump associates.
Dowd was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, to parents Mary and Paul Dowd. As a boy, he became fascinated with the writings of lawyer Clarence Darrow. During the summers, Dowd worked at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket Island where he became acquainted with trial attorney Edward Bennett Williams. Dowd received his B.A. cum laude from then St. Bernard College in 1963 and J.D. from Emory University School of Law in 1965. Joining the United States Marine Corps,[when?] Dowd served in the Judge Advocate Division and was promoted to the rank of captain.
Tenure with Department of Justice
Dowd joined the Department of Justice in 1969. Working for the Department of Justice, Dowd was a trial attorney for the tax division and later as a chief of an Organized Crime Strike Force from 1974–1978. His early career at the Department of Justice involved working on the tax evasion case of mobster Meyer Lansky, the prosecution of Small Business Administration bribery cases in Virginia, and internal investigations involving financial corruption by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials. One internal investigation of FBI officials in particular dealt with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that began in 1976, four years after his death. Dowd described in a 1993 interview on Frontline that the investigation revealed, "Hoover had taken, at taxpayers' expense, goods and services provided by employees of the FBI."
Dowd also helped implement and trained FBI officers and U.S. Attorneys' offices the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The first case that tested the strength of the RICO laws was tried by Dowd.
In 1977 and 1978, Dowd led an investigation of Pennsylvanian Congressman Daniel J. Flood.:263 Dowd questioned Flood's former aide, Steve Elko, who accused Flood on a number of federal contracts in exchange for cash kickbacks and also mentioned Pennsylvanian Congressman Joshua Eilberg's law firm handling the contract negotiations for a federal grant to Hahnemann University Hospital.:263 The discovery of evidence involving Congressman Eilberg coincided with the firing of U.S. Attorney, David W. Marston.:263 Dowd was then assigned to investigate Eilberg while the Flood investigation later expanded to include RICO violations.:264
In April 1979, The Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Drinkhall, wrote an article accusing federal prosecutors Dowd and William M. Kramer of developing and implementing an unethical plan to force a convicted felon, Samuel Ray Calabrese, to cooperate with the government against other organized crime figures. Following its publication, the Department of Justice launched an investigation that ultimately cleared Dowd and Kramer of wrongdoing. Drinkhall later published a second article in December 1979 where he accused Dowd and Kramer of investigating him. Dowd and Kramer filed a libel suit against Dow Jones for $5 million and was settled for $800,000 in 1984 before going to trial.
Following his departure at the Department of Justice in 1978, Dowd was hired by the law firm Whitman & Ransom as a partner in their Washington, D.C. office to represent defendants accused of white-collar crimes. He exited Whitman & Ransom to join Heron, Burchette, Ruckert & Rothwell in 1984. Dowd left Heron Burchette in 1990 and joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld where he later became partner. Dowd has set up his own practice, John M. Dowd, in Washington
Dowd represented Robert Reckmeyer in a 1985 federal trial for distribution of illegal drugs. Reckmeyer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 years in prison, but later reduced to 14 years. Reckmeyer petitioned to vacate his sentence accusing Dowd that he requested and knowingly accepted illegally sourced funds as fees for his services. The grand jury brought no charges to Dowd and no action was taken by District of Columbia Bar. Reckmeyer appealed the case to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which affirmed the lower court's decision and later denied an en banc.
Dowd represented Arizona Senator John McCain during the Senate Ethics Investigation known as the Keating Five in hearings held in 1990 and 1991. John McCain was cleared for impropriety by the Senate committee, but was reprimanded and criticized for his poor judgment.:6
Akin Gump was retained by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) during the lysine price-fixing conspiracy to develop a defense strategy following the FBI raid of ADM's offices in June 1995.:354 Dowd interviewed employee Mark Whitacre for four hours who at the time was an informant for the FBI. Whitacre told Dowd about his role as an informant and Dowd immediately informed ADM's management, who in retaliation, accused Whitacre of embezzlement.:355 The film, The Informant!, which is based on the lysine price-fixing conspiracy, Dowd was portrayed by stand-up comedian Bob Zany.
Arizona governor Fife Symington retained Dowd as an adviser when he faced questioning from United States House Committee on Financial Services over the Savings and loan crisis in the late-1980s and early-1990s on using his position improperly to access loans with favorable terms. Dowd represented Symington during the latter's trial for extortion and bank fraud in 1996 and 1997, of which he was convicted for bank fraud. Symington was convicted on 7 of the 21 counts and acquitted on 3, with the other 11 resulting in a hung jury. His conviction was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000. Symington was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001. Symington had once saved an intoxicated 19 year old Bill Clinton from a rip tide off of Massachusetts.
Dowd represented Monica Goodling in the dismissal of U.S. attorneys overseen by Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. Goodling was advised by Dowd to invoke the fifth and avoid testifying to Congress about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Dowd said that the investigation was "hostile".
From June 2017 until March 2018, Dowd was a personal attorney representing President Donald Trump in the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Dowd recommended to President Trump that attorney Ty Cobb be added to his legal team to manage matters with the special counsel.
On December 2, 2017, the day after Mike Flynn pled guilty in federal court and agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation, controversy erupted over Trump's tweeting about firing Flynn. It was reported Dowd had drafted the tweet that stated Trump had to fire General Flynn after he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. Dowd did not comment and referred reporters to fellow Trump attorney Ty Cobb's statement; however, Cobb said nothing about lying to the FBI being a factor in Flynn's firing. Legal commentators quickly raised the question of whether, in fact, Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired him in February 2017. Ten days prior on November 22, Dowd sent a voicemail to Rob Kelner, a lawyer of Mike Flynn, in which Dowd asked for a "heads up" of where the special counsel's probe was headed. The Department of Justice released a transcript of the voicemail on May 31, 2019.
On March 22, 2018, Dowd resigned as Trump's lead lawyer in the Russia inquiry. Dowd cited Trump's repeatedly ignoring advice, clashing over legal strategy, and the recent hire of attorney Joseph diGenova to the legal team as justification for his resignation, while Trump cited his lack of confidence in Dowd to handle the investigation.
Dowd was the Special Counsel to the Commissioner of Baseball that led to the banning of MLB player and manager Pete Rose for the Cincinnati Reds. In his role as Special Counsel to the Commissioners, Peter Ueberroth and subsequently A. Bartlett Giamatti, he submitted a 225-page report in May 1989, which detailed Rose's betting on baseball games in the 1980s. The report led to Rose's being placed on baseball's ineligible list in August 1989, even though "no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Reds" according to Dowd. Dowd mentioned in a 2002 ESPN interview that he "probably did". Rose later filed a defamation suit against Dowd in July 2016 after comments Dowd made in a radio interview in mid-2016 alluding to Rose engaging in statutory rape. A sworn statement was filed in July 2017 in Dowd's defense alleging that Rose had a sexual relationship with a minor. The case was dismissed in December 2017 after both parties settled out of court for undisclosed terms.
In additional to investigating Rose, Dowd scrutinized several members of MLB for betting. Dowd investigated outfielder Lenny Dykstra over allegations of betting on baseball games in 1991. Dykstra was cleared, but admonished for his gambling addiction. Manager Don Zimmer and two umpires, Rich Garcia and Frank Pulli, were given two years probation in 1989 for sports betting. The investigation was kept secret until 2002 when the New York Daily News disclosed it.
At the request of Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, Dowd was assigned to compile a report on New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's $40,000 payment to Howard Spira to dig up dirt on outfielder Dave Winfield in 1990. His work led to Vincent banning Steinbrenner's day-to-day operations of the Yankees on July 30, but was later sued by Yankees' minority owners Harold M. Bowman and Daniel R. McCarthy. The suit where Bowman and McCarthy sought $30,000 in damages from Dowd was thrown out in court in early 1991 by District Judge Robert W. Sweet.
During the Mitchell Report, which looked into the culture of steroid abuse in MLB, Dowd brought up allegations against former Maine Senator George J. Mitchell about the independence of the probe. It was after the release of the report that Dowd was convinced that Mitchell had done a good job.
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2017)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2018)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2019)
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