President Donald Trump condemned a House Judiciary Committee hearing at which John Dean—former White House counsel to Richard Nixon and a political contributor to CNN—testified about the “remarkable parallels” he saw between Watergate and special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Trump expressed disbelief that the Democratic-led committee brought in Dean—a vocal critic of the president—to testify as House Democrats appeared to step up their efforts to investigate and impeach.
“Can’t believe they are bringing in John Dean, the disgraced Nixon White House Counsel who is a paid CNN contributor,” the president wrote on Twitter. “No Collusion – No Obstruction! Democrats just want a do-over which they’ll never get!”
Dean—whose testimony during the Watergate scandal helped topple Nixon—told the committee that Mueller’s report resembled a 1974 document that laid out the case against the former president. Dean pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his role in the scandal and was sent to prison for four months.
“In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map … was to President Richard Nixon,” Dean said in testimony submitted to the committee.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Dean’s testimony, as well as those from three other former prosecutors, will help his committee “draw our own conclusions about the findings of the special counsel and other evidence before us today.”
At the beginning of his testimony, Dean acknowledged he was “not here as a fact witness,” and said he only wanted to give “historical context.” He made multiple comparisons between Watergate and Mueller’s report, at one point stating that “in both situations, the White House counsel was implicated in the cover-up activity.” He also called for Don McGahn, Trump’s former White House counsel, to testify.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called Dean’s appearance a “smear” against the president and questioned Nadler’s decision to bring him on. Dean previously called the president “worse than Nixon” and has been an avid critic of his administration.
“You can’t make this up. The best person Jerry Nadler could find to smear @realDonaldTrump today with a bogus “obstruction of justice” charge is someone who literally pled guilty + went to jail for obstructing justice,” she wrote on Twitter.
You can’t make this up.
The best person Jerry Nadler could find to smear @realDonaldTrump today with a bogus “obstruction of justice” charge is someone who literally pled guilty + went to jail for obstructing justice.
House Democrats have totally lost it.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 10, 2019
The hearing, officially titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” comes as the number of Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings increased to 56 lawmakers as of June 10, according to a tally maintained by The Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who wields the power to initiate the proceedings, is against impeachment.
Democrats have sustained the narrative that the president was guilty of colluding with Russia and obstructing justice. In a final press conference, Mueller said his team decided not to make a determination about bringing an obstruction of justice charge against the president. Mueller also concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to establish that Trump colluded with Russia.
John Malcolm, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the committee that the president provided more than 1 million pages of documents, allowed key members of his staff to be interviewed, and submitted written answers to questions.
“These are not the actions of someone attempting to obstruct an ongoing investigation,” Malcolm said.
He said that in obstruction of justice cases, the most difficult thing to establish is that the accused acted with a corrupt intent. He said the president repeatedly expressed concerns that the investigation hampered his ability to govern and to engage in foreign relations.
“The president had a perfectly legitimate reason to be exasperated by the cloud hanging over his presidency from his investigation and for wishing it to come to a speedy conclusion,” Malcolm testified.
Malcolm also noted that Mueller “failed in his duty” to make a decision on whether a “prosecutable case of obstruction of justice existed, and he applied an erroneous ‘exoneration’ standard as part of his analysis.”
One the same day, the Department of Justice made an additional accommodation for Democrats on the committee, by agreeing to begin releasing the underlying evidence for Mueller’s final report. Nadler said in a statement that he would hold back further contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr while the Justice Department continues to cooperate.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, in his opening remarks accused the chairman of trying to affect Trump’s re-election.
“The chairman wants to talk about anything that might sway opinion against the president before the 2020 election,” he said. “That’s why these proceedings are moving so slowly: Robert Mueller closed up shop a little too early in the election cycle.”
Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.