John Dean Hopes to 'Show How Strikingly Like Watergate' the Trump Investigation Is

Susan Jones | June 10, 2019 | 9:59am EDT
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John Dean was President Richard Nixon's White House counsel. He helped the Nixon administration cover up the Watergate burglary, then turned evidence against Nixon. He'll try to make comparisons between then and now when he testifies today, June 10. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( - Watergate witness John Dean, answering the House Judiciary Committee's call to testify on this Monday, told CNN what he plans to say at the 2 p.m. hearing.

"What I'm going to try to do...I'm clearly not a fact witness, but I hope I can give them some context and show them how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now, and as reported in the Mueller report, is.

"So I've taken several examples from the Mueller report relating to obstruction of justice, which is their focus today, and looked at those and made the comparisons," Dean said Monday morning.

Dean paused when host John Berman asked him, "What are the most apt comparisons?"

"Wow," he laughed. "That's a tough question."

"Too many are too similar," Dean said, "but the fact that Nixon was hands-on very early is just like Trump -- hands-on very early.

"The firing of Comey was certainly not dissimilar from some of the actions Nixon took. Nixon waded in and tried to influence the FBI investigation, as did Trump. So there are lots of comparisons," Dean said.

But one glaring area of difference between Nixon and Trump is that Nixon became aware, after the fact, of the Watergate burglary, the underlying crime that he tried to cover up.

The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump without a crime having been alleged.

As Trump repeatedly has tweeted: "NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION. Besides, how can you have Obstruction when not only was there No Collusion (by Trump), but the bad actions were done by the 'other' side? The greatest con-job in the history of American Politics!"

Dean told CNN that a "historical base" is a good place for the House Judiciary Committee to start, since the Trump administration has directed various fact witnesses not to comply with congressional subpoenas.

Appearing before Dean on CNN's "New Day," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that John Dean “is one of the few people around…who remembers what it was like back in the early 1970s when the Nixon administration went through something like this."

And I think that’s really valuable…because there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there about exactly what impeachment is. So if nothing else, you know, having John Dean talk about the fact that -- what an impeachment looks like and then, of course, talk about what happens next.

There's a lot of Americans, for example, who think that if the House impeaches, that's it for the president. Of course that's not true. The Senate would need to convict. The Senate has never convicted in American history any president after impeachment, neither Bill Clinton nor Andrew Johnson back 100-plus years ago. So I think just talking about what this means.

And then, secondarily, I would say, John, what's really ugly -- well, I should say in the Mueller report, the Russia stuff is really ugly. The extent to which the Trump administration welcomed the help.

And we're past the notion that there was a crime committed. Mueller said there wasn't. But Volume II, which talks about the president's efforts to get rid of the investigation, to get rid of Jim Comey, basically to stop that investigation, and the president's lies, it will be very interesting to hear John Dean compare that behavior to the behavior that Richard Nixon engaged in that actually got impeachment proceedings going in the House back in the early '70s.

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