WASHINGTON — The Mueller report took center stage on Capitol Hill Monday, but instead of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a key House panel heard from Former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean.
- Hearing comes as Committee Chair Nadler announces deal with DOJ
- Contempt charges off table, DOJ will turn over some documents, underlying evidence
- Dean: “Mr. McGahn does not represent Donald Trump, but the office of the president."
- More DC Bureau stories
The hearing comes as Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (R-New York) said he’s reached a deal with the Department of Justice which takes possible criminal contempt charges for the Attorney General off the table for now.
The DOJ has agreed to turn over some Mueller report documents and underlying evidence, which members in the majority on the committee have been demanding for months.
Monday’s hearing could be a signal that Democrats are exploring other options in an attempt to sharpen their case against the President.
“Special Counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map,” John Dean said in his opening statement before the committee.
Dean’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities during the Watergate scandal paved the way for Nixon’s resignation from office.
The former White House Counsel from President Nixon’s administration told members that he sees parallels between the Watergate investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“I think McGahn has stated that he was very aware that firing the special counsel could provoke an equivalent to the 'Saturday Night Massacre,'” Dean said, referring to excerpts from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in which Dean believes the President’s former White House Counsel, Don McGahn “was a critical observer” of obstruction attempts in the White House.
Democrats utilized Dean as a witness who can provide historical context on the question of obstruction of justice.
“We still have an obligation to investigate the deeply troubling evidence outlined by the Special Counsel,” Nadler said to the committee.
The hearing at times became tense, as Republicans and Democrats sparred over Dean’s credibility.
“He was testifying to this committee in 1974, I wasn’t even alive then,” said Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida), a freshman member of the key panel.
Steube emphasized that Dean’s testimony is nothing more than political theatre and wrote it off as a waste of time.
“I don’t really understand why Democrats are bringing in somebody that said when he started his testimony that I am not a fact witness,” Steube said. “It’s just the Democrats trying to keep this charade and politicism of the investigation ongoing,” he added.
Just as Dean was one of the most significant witnesses against former President Nixon, he drew the same parallel to former White House counsel Don McGahn, who has declined to appear before the committee despite a subpoena, claiming executive privilege.
“Mr. McGahn does not represent Donald Trump, but the Office of the President. His client is the Office of the President and I think he owes that office his testimony before this committee,” Dean said.
The Justice Department will start handing over documents to the committee Monday, but they are still reserving the ability to continue to pursue contempt litigation down the line.