- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2019

John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon and a key Watergate figure, said Monday he sees “remarkable parallels” between the Watergate scandal and President Trump’s conduct outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Dean, a CNN commentator and outspoken Trump critic, said he wanted to provide a historical context to the Mueller investigation.

“I would like to address a few of the remarkable parallels that I find in the Mueller report that echo Watergate, particularly those related to obstruction of justice,” he told lawmakers.

President Trump, at the White House, called Mr. Dean a “loser” and highlighted his relationship with CNN, a favorite target of the president.

“I guess they paid him a lot of money over the years,” Mr. Trump said at an event honoring Simon Pagenaud, the Indy 500 winner.

John has been a loser for a long time,” he said. “We know that. I think he was disbarred and he went to prison. Other than that, he’s doing a great job.”

Mr. Dean told the panel Mr. Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey paralleled Mr. Nixon’s “Saturday night massacre” firing of special counsel Archibald Cox.

“Like Comey, Cox was charged with investigating wrongdoing by the President and his advisors and Cox refused an ultimatum from the White House,” he said.

While Democrats pushed Mr. Dean to illustrate comparisons between the two presidents, the committee’s ranking Republican, Doug Collins of Georgia, questioned the purpose of his testimony.

“This committee is now hearing from the Seventies and they want their star witness back,” he said.

In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, called Mr. Dean “a critical witness,” saying the committee needed to rely on his testimony and others to “draw our own conclusions about the findings of the special counsel.”

Mr. Dean last testified before the same committee in July 1974. He resigned from the White House in April 1974 and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, ultimately serving four months in prison.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, referenced Mr. Dean’s past statements criticizing President Trump along with his obstruction construction.

While Mr. Jordan was speaking, Mr. Nadler cut him off accusing the Ohio lawmaker of casting aspersions on the witness.

Mr. Jordan refused to back down, telling the chairman he did not cast aspersions on the witness. When Mr. Nadler said he believed Mr. Jordan had done so, Mr. Jordan fired back, “You’re wrong,” but the chairman cut him off, banging his gavel.

Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, questioned why Mr.Dean was even there in the first place, given his lack of knowledge about Mr. Mueller’s findings.

“This is all conjecture in legal posturing,” he said. “It doesn’t get at the heart of what happened. You don’t know any more than us.

“This has turned into a vaudevillian farce for me,” Mr. Biggs continued.

But Mr. Dean said he was there provide historical context between the events of the early 1970s and present day.

“The Trump administration is in fast competition with what happened in the Nixon administration,” he said.

Mr. Dean drew several comparisons to his situation and what is currently happening with former White House counsel Don McGahn. Mr. McGahn appears frequently in the Mueller report, including one episode in which Mr. Trump pressured him to fire the special counsel for alleged “conflicts of interest.”

Ultimately, Mr. McGahn refused and threatened to resign. He backed off the resignation threat, but did leave the White House about a year later. Democrats have been demanding Mr. McGahn appear before their committee and turn over documents.

“In both situations, the White House counsel was implicated in the cover-up activity,” Mr. Dean said, adding that he believed Mr. McGahn was innocent of anything illegal or improper.

“There is evidence he prevented several obstruction attempts,” Mr. Dean said.

Mr. Dean’s testimony is part of what has already shaped up to be a dramatic week regarding the fight over the Mueller probe. Just hours before Mr. Dean’s appearance, the Justice Department agreed to turn over some of Mr. Mueller’s underlying evidence.

Despite the accord, Mr. Nadler said Democrats will still push ahead with vote on a resolution authorizing him to get federal court to enforce subpoenas for Attorney General William P. Barr and Mr. McGahn.

On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will hold a rare open hearing on the counterintelligence information detailed in the Mueller report.

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