Dean: Mueller report ‘road map’ for probe
WASHINGTON — John Dean, a star witness during Watergate who helped bring down the Nixon presidency, testified Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller has provided Congress with a “road map” for investigating President Donald Trump.
He told the House Judiciary Committee he saw parallels between Mueller’s findings and those of congressional investigators looking into Richard Nixon’s administration decades ago. He pointed to the way the presidents used their pardon power in an attempt to influence witness testimony, and their efforts to seize control of investigations and direct the efforts of prosecutors.
Dean, who served as White House counsel, testified as House Democrats opened three days of sessions aimed at focusing public attention on the findings of the Russia investigation and Trump’s actions.
“We have a responsibility to do this work, to follow the facts where they lead,” said Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., as he gaveled in the hearing. He said the intent was to make certain “no president, Democrat or Republican, can ever act in this way again.”
Trump, apparently watching the televised hearing, tweeted, “Can’t believe they are bringing in John Dean, the disgraced Nixon White House Counsel.” He added his oftrepeated claim, “No Collusion — No Obstruction!”
Ahead of the hearing, Nadler announced that the Justice Department has agreed to turn over some of the underlying evidence from Mueller’s report, including files used to assess whether Trump obstructed justice.
In the first breakthrough in weeks of negotiations over the report, Nadler said the department will begin complying with the committee’s subpoena on Monday and provide some of Mueller’s “most important files.” He said all members of the committee will be able to view them.
Nadler said in response to the agreement Democrats would not vote on holding Attorney General William Barr in criminal contempt, for now. Instead, the House will vote Tuesday on a resolution that would empower the Judiciary Committee to file a civil lawsuit for Mueller materials.
The Justice Department is “pleased the Committee has agreed to set aside its contempt resolution and is returning to the traditional accommodation process,” said spokesperson Kerri Kupec. She said the department “remains committed to appropriately accommodating Congress’s legitimate interests related to the Special Counsel’s Investigation and will continue to do so provided the previously voted-upon resolution does not advance.”
The deal is unlikely to give Democrats all of what they were requesting — including an unredacted version of the report and secret grand jury testimony.
At the same time, the Justice Department announced it was stepping up its counter-probe into the origins of the Russia investigations, a priority for Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill.
The department said Monday it has asked intelligence agencies to preserve all relevant records and access to witnesses.
Dean was supposed to be the headliner Monday, but some of the strongest testimony came from two former U.S. attorneys who served during the Obama administration, Barbara McQuade and Joyce Vance, who have become regulars on cable news shows, analyzing developments in the Mueller investigation and offering criticism on Twitter of the president’s conduct. Dean said it was the first time he had testified since 1974.