Biography of Richard Ben-Veniste, a lawyer who gained fame in the 70's as a lead prosecutor in the watergate scandal

Meet Litigator Richard Ben-Veniste; Family, Wife, 9-11, Watergate

Richard Ben-Veniste Biography

Richard Ben- Veniste is an American lawyer and a partner in the Washington law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, specializing in complex civil litigation and white collar criminal cases. He is a former chief of the special prosecutor’s Watergate Task Force and was a member of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. He also served as CNN’s Legal Analyst (2017-2019).

He began his career in law at the United States Attorney’s office straight from law school as part of his master’s program at the Northwestern University School of law. He got his master of laws degree in 1968 and was assigned first to the Special Prosecutions Section and then as chief of the Official Corruption Section from June 1972 until he joined the Watergate task force in 1973 as the lead prosecutor.

He has been listed in Who’s Who in America since 1975, The Best Lawyers in America since 1983, and Washingtonian Magazine’s Top Lawyers in Washington, DC, since 1992, when the list first appeared.

In addition, he is a Presidential appointee to the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, which is mandated to review and declassify secret documents relating to World War II era war crimes.

Richard Ben-Veniste Age and Height

Ben was born on January 3, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. He stands at a height of 5 feet 7 inches tall.

Richard Ben-Veniste Family

Richard is the son of  Isaac Irving Benveniste and Sylvia Benveniste. He was brought up alongside his sister Lorraine Ceil Benveniste who sadly passed away in 1991 at the age of 42. His father was of Levantine origin while his mother was of Russian and German origin.

Richard Ben-Veniste Education

He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City in 1960 and earned an A.B. from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania (1964). He later joined Columbia Law School in New York City graduating with an LL.B. in 1967. He then received an advanced law degree from Northwestern University Law School under a Ford Foundation fellowship grant in 1968.

Richard Ben-Veniste Religion

Ben is Jewish.

Richard Ben-Veniste Wife

He is married to Donna Grell, the couple first met in 1983 in San Francisco.  Donna is the daughter of Lawrence Grell and the late Dorothy Grell. She was brought up in Richvale in a rice farm where she grew up alongside her brother, Dale Grell.

Richard was however previously married to Mary Allin Travers who was a singer-songwriter and composer. Details about their marriage are limited. Mary suddenly passed on in September 2009 at the age of 72 as a result of leukemia.

Richard Ben-Veniste Children

Ben has four children Danielle and Olivia from his marriage to Donna and Jonathan and Elizabeth from his first marriage.

Richard Ben-Veniste Watergate

In 1973, at the age of 30, Ben became the chief of the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s Watergate Task Force. Which involved investigating the principal Watergate cover-up case against Richard Nixon’s top aides, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and John Mitchell, among others.

Richard Ben-Veniste Attorney

Richard is a litigator who focuses on complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal cases. He also advises organizations and individuals involved in congressional investigations across a broad range of complex and sensitive areas. He is a partner at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw which he joined in 2002. Prior to that, he was a partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Ben-Veniste and Shernoff.

He served as assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1968 to 1973 where he was chief of the Official Corruption Section. He gained national recognition during the mid-1970s, when he served as one of the lead prosecutors on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

He served as chief counsel (Minority) of the Senate Whitewater Committee from 1995 to 1996; from 1976 to 1977, he was special outside counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Governmental Operations; and from 1973 to 1975, he held the position of chief of the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s Watergate Task Force.

In the 1990s he was involved in the investigation of President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hilary, concerning the failed land deal known as Whitewater. That investigation found no evidence of criminal activity on the part of the Clintons.

He was also one of ten commissioners on the bipartisan 9-11 Commission from 2003 to 2004. He has served as a member of the Aspen Security Group, a task force created by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to provide analysis and advice to the secretary since 2009.

He served on the NSA Advisory Board legal panel, providing advice to the director of NSA and its Office of General Counsel from 2015-17. He also served as a CNN legal analyst from 2017-2019.

Richard Ben-Veniste 9-11

Ben was one of ten commissioners on the bipartisan 9-11 Commission from 2003 to 2004. He questioned Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s national security advisor, on her and the president’s assessment of a briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, that carried the title “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.” Rice described it as “historical information based on old reporting – there was no new threat information,” a contention Ben-Veniste disputed.

He played a major role in shaping the commission’s final report, in which it asserted that the Clinton and Bush administrations failed to grasp the gravity of the threat from Al Qaeda.

Richard Ben-Veniste Political Affiliation

He is a Democrat.

Richard Ben-Veniste Net worth

He has an estimated net worth of $5 million.

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