Edwin Meese (1931-), a conservative Republican lawyer, was for many years a close adviser and confidant of Ronald Reagan. Meese served as Reagan's chief of staff while Reagan was governor of California (1969-74) and, later, as counselor to the president (1981-85) and Attorney General of the United States (1985-88).
Meese, a diehard Reagan loyalist, drew sharp criticism for his leadership of the US Department of Justice during the Iran-Contra Scandal. As Attorney General, it was Meese's duty to investigate possible criminal activity within Reagan's inner circle related to Iran-Contra. But Meese agreed only reluctantly to head the investigation, and when he discovered possible lawbreaking, he tipped off administration insiders before securing critical documents, which allowed Colonel Oliver North to shred thousands of pages of potentially incriminating evidence. Lawrence Walsh, who subsequently led his own inquiry into Iran-Contra as Independent Counsel, believed that Meese's investigation was little more than a cover-up.