Richard Nixon would say Donald Trump is going too far, Watergate-era White House counsel says

Richard Nixon would say Donald Trump is going too far, Watergate-era White House counsel says

John Dean worked as White House counsel under Richard Nixon, a U.S. president who was known for keeping enemies’ lists and obsessing about revenge.

And today, he’d likely say the current U.S. president is going too far, he told CNN on Tuesday.

Speaking about Trump’s desire to use the DOJ to prosecute political foes like Comey & Clinton, former Nixon White House counsel @JohnWDean says: “This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic. This is what an autocrat does. … This is a level Richard Nixon never went to.”

— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) November 21, 2018

Dean was on CNN talking about the New York Times report that said Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton, but was rebuffed in his request.

The Times went on to note that Trump’s lawyers wanted the Justice Department to investigate former FBI director James Comey — there, too, the request was refused.

Coverage of Donald Trump on

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“I think he’d tell this president he’s going too far,” Dean said.

“This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic, this is what an autocrat does.”

READ MORE: Trump tried — and failed — to get Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton, reports show

Dean went on to say that political scientists have developed standards by looking at what autocrats do all over the world.

“Trump is checking all those boxes,” he said.

Dean added that this is a level that Nixon “never went to, where he went after somebody’s personal well-being by a criminal prosecution.”

“I’ve listened to all the tapes that are relevant. While I heard him break the law on some of those tapes, I never heard him do it by burning on his enemies and trying to put them in jail,” he said.

“This is really very, very heavy sledding.”

Nixon may not have used criminal prosecution to go after his enemies, but CNN host John Berman said the former president did use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against people on his lists.

David Andelman, a one-time New York Times reporter who’s now a visiting scholar at Fordham Law School, wrote in a CNN op-ed that he once appeared on a Nixon list, and was later targeted with IRS audits.

Richard Nixon gives his resignation address, 2018.

© History Films /Courtesy Everett Collection via AP

Dean has become a prominent Trump critic during his presidency, and the president has responded in kind.

In August, the New York Times reported that White House Counsel Don McGahn was cooperating “extensively” in the Robert Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Historian Michael Beschloss said at the time, “this sure has echoes of Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, John Dean, who in 1973 feared that Nixon was setting him up as a fall guy for Watergate and secretly gave investigators crucial help while still in his job.”

Trump later tweeted, “the failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today” implying that because McGahn was testifying, “he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT.’”

“But I allowed him and all others to testify — I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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