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Who is Elder D. Todd Christofferson? A brief history of the law clerk turned apostle

Editor's note: "Integrity & Trust: Lessons From Watergate and Today" is a Deseret News event featuring legendary journalist Bob Woodward and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday, Elder D. Todd Christofferson and journalist Bob Woodward will discuss the importance of integrity in public life.

The meeting comes 47 years after Woodward helped break the news of the Watergate scandal in The Washington Post and Elder Christofferson served as a district court law clerk in Washington, D.C.

Now an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Christofferson is no stranger to the demands of public life. Here’s a look back at an extraordinary life marked by professional, religious and personal service.

Quick facts: Elder Christofferson is currently a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Prior to his service as an apostle, he served in the Presidency of the Seventy.
  • In the early 1970s, Elder Christofferson worked as a law clerk for Chief Judge John J. Sirica of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia during the Watergate hearings.

Early childhood and youth: David Todd Christofferson was born in American Fork, Utah, on Jan. 24, 1945.

  • He is the eldest of five boys and was raised in Pleasant Grove and Lindon.
  • When he was 15, Elder Christofferson’s family moved to Somerset, New Jersey, after his father accepted a veterinarian position in New Brunswick, according to
  • Elder Christofferson’s experiences as the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ at his high school and his participation in the Hill Cumorah Pageant were formative for his spiritual life.

Mission service: After graduating from high school and spending a year studying English at Brigham Young University, Elder Christofferson served as a missionary in the Argentina North Mission.

  • One of Elder Christofferson's mission presidents was Richard G. Scott, who would later serve with him as a fellow member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, according to

Marriage and children: After returning from his mission, Elder Christofferson continued his education at BYU, where he met Kathy Jacob. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in May 1968 and together they have five children.

Education and professional life: Elder Christofferson graduated from BYU in 1969 as an Edwin S. Hinckley scholar.

  • Following his schooling at BYU, Elder Christofferson pursued a law degree at Duke University and graduated in 1972.
  • Over the course of 30 years, Elder Christofferson worked for several law firms and served as associate general counsel of NationsBank Corp. (now Bank of America), according to

Watergate: From 1972 to 1974, Elder Christofferson worked as a law clerk for Judge Sirica, who ordered that White House tapes be surrendered to congressional investigators and special prosecutors. It was a move that precipitated President Richard Nixon’s resignation and the convictions of 19 officials from the Nixon White House, according to The Washington Post.

  • Elder Christofferson was one of the first to hear the contents of the secret White House tapes.
  • Elder Christofferson shared his experiences with the Watergate hearings and scandal at Christ Church College in Oxford, England, in 2017. He said, “The life lesson I took away from (Nixon’s) experience was that my hope for avoiding the possibility of a similar catastrophe in my own life lay in never making an exception — always and invariably submitting to the dictates of an ethical conscience.”

Military: After his clerkship, Elder Christofferson fulfilled an active duty requirement with the U.S. Army and spent eight years in the inactive reserve, completing his service as a reserve captain, according to

Church service: On April 3, 1993, Elder Christofferson was called as a General Authority Seventy.

  • He served as president of the Mexico South Area in this position and later became a member of the Presidency of the Seventy in 1998.
  • In April 2008, President Thomas S. Monson, then-president of the church, called Elder Christofferson to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.