President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at the obstruction of justice testimony of former White House counsel and Watergate star witness John Dean, even as other Republicans accused Democrats of reaching back to a past-his-prime figure to undermine Trump.
“Can’t believe they are bringing in John Dean, the disgraced Nixon White House Counsel who is a paid CNN contributor,” Trump tweeted, just as the House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on special counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct his investigation, with Dean as the main witness. “No Collusion – No Obstruction! Democrats just want a do-over which they’ll never get!”
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It was the second time the president tweeted about Dean in the lead-up to his testimony. On Sunday night, Trump called Dean a “sleazebag attorney” in a series of tweets criticizing Democrats.
Dean, during his testimony, said he hopes ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn testifies before Congress. McGahn has previously refused to comply with a subpoena to testify and turn over documents related to the investigation into Russian election interference.
In a statement heavy on his Watergate past, Dean described “remarkable parallels” between Nixon’s actions and Trump’s. He cited six examples of Mueller’s findings that tracked closely with similar evidence unearthed during Watergate, particularly the dangling of pardons to potential witnesses.
“In many ways the Mueller Report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate ‘Road Map’ … was to President Richard Nixon,” Dean said.
Dean also hearkened to his own criminal history in that episode. “I learned about obstruction of justice the hard way, by finding myself on the wrong side of the law,” he said.
Dean’s words drew the attention of the Republican National Committee as well.
“Since Watergate, Dean has solidified himself as an unethical political opportunist who hasn’t met a recent Republican president who he didn’t want to impeach,” and RNC spokesman wrote in a statement at the start of the hearing. “Yet, Democrats want him to testify before the House. For what reason? No one really knows.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee, blasted Dean as a practitioner of obstruction of justice, calling him “the godfather” of how to misuse government resources to affect a presidential campaign.
“This committee is now hearing from the 70s and they want their star witness back,” he said.
But Democrats said Dean’s testimony would be valuable to showcase how Trump’s actions toward Mueller were akin to the actions that led to Nixon’s resignation.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the committee, said Dean and other former prosecutors on the committee panel, have “considerable experience weighing the kind of evidence laid out by the special counsel in his report and in his indictments.”