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Former White House Counsel from Watergate Era Is 'Startled' by History Repeating Itself
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11 Jun 2019 06:50 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: John Dean (Image source: Screenshot)

 

It's hard for people who are 55 years old and up to not compare Donald Trump's alleged trouble to the trouble Richard Nixon found himself in. Impeachment was mentioned for both. Upon learning he would most likely be impeached, Nixon resigned. Whether or not Trump will do the same remains to be seen.

 

With Trump refusing to let his current and former officials and aides testify before Congress with regard to his alleged 12 incidents of obstruction of justice, the House Judiciary Committee needed witnesses for its hearing. 

One of those they leaned on to testify was former White House counsel John Dean, who did some prison time for his actions orchestrating the White House coverup of Watergate. It's hard not to make comparisons when Trump's former White House counsel, Don McGahn, isn't being allowed to testify, yet gave Mueller an earful during the investigation.

 

Dean testified before the House Judiciary Committee as a "fact witness" about the parallels he saw between Trump and Nixon. 

"It's quite striking and startling that history is repeating itself and with a vengeance — so that's why I've spoken out," he said.

 

Republicans, who naturally don't want any parallels drawn, continued to mock Dean's appearance on the witness stand. Not only was he the star witness of a trial 45 years ago, but he's also on contract with CNN. The former U.S. attorneys who testified also have TV deals, and none of them were involved in the Mueller investigation. 

"Here we sit today in a hearing with the ghost of Christmas past because the chairman of the committee has gone to the speaker of the House and sought permission to open an impeachment inquiry, and she said no," opined Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). He asked Dean how much his CNN contract was worth but didn't get an answer.

 

Not surprisingly, Trump was dismissive of Dean as well, tweeting that he is a "sleaze-bag" and has "been a loser for many years."  

He added that "when you look at past impeachments, whether it was President Clinton, or I guess President Nixon never got there — he left. I don't leave. Big difference." That seemed like a definite challenge to the Democrats.

 

But this is precisely the reason Dean was there. There is a growing feeling among some the public and Democratic lawmakers that impeachment proceedings should be started for Trump. Yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refuses to do so unless more of the public wants to see it. She feels it could hurt the Democrats in 2020. 

While Dean could easily draw comparisons between Trump and Nixon, he noted that the last time he testified before the House Judiciary Committee was July 11, 1974. Seven of the 41 members on the current committee weren't even born yet.

 

That includes Gaetz who addressed Dean, stating, "You sit before us here with no knowledge of a single fact of the Mueller report on a hearing entitled 'Lessons of the Mueller Report.' " 

But Democrats wants to know about McGahn and why he said and did some things and why Trump relied on him. Dean was asked why Trump asked McGahn to remove Mueller as special counsel and why he asked Corey Lewandowski to pressure former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to control the special counsel.

 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked Dean pointedly why McGahn was so upset by Trump's call to remove Mueller. 

"He was very aware that firing the special counsel would be equivalent to the Nixon Saturday Night Massacre," responded Dean of a time when two Justice Department officials resigned rather than obey Nixon and fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

 

"And so he stepped away from it and didn't want any part of it." 

With respect to the Mueller report, Dean opined, "In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map ... was to President Richard Nixon," adding, "Special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map."

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