Monday 17 June 2019

Watergate veteran John Dean calls Mueller report a 'road map' for probe into Donald Trump

Former White House counsel John Dean
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former White House counsel John Dean REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Congressman Jerry Nadler
U.S. President Donald Trump REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro

A star witness during Watergate who helped bring down the Nixon presidency has testified that special counsel Robert Mueller has provided Congress with a "road map" for investigating US President Donald Trump.

John Dean told the House Judiciary Committee he saw parallels between Mr Mueller's findings and those of congressional investigators looking into Richard Nixon's administration decades ago.

He pointed to the way the US presidents used their pardon power in an attempt to influence witness evidence, and their efforts to seize control of investigations and direct the efforts of prosecutors.

Mr Dean, who served as White House counsel, testified as House of Representative Democrats opened three days of sessions aimed at focusing public attention on the findings of the Russia investigation and Mr Trump's actions.

"We have a responsibility to do this work, to follow the facts where they lead," said chairman Jerry Nadler as he launched the hearing. He said the intent was to make certain "no president, Democrat or Republican, can ever act in this way again".

Mr 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 oft-repeated claim: "No Collusion - No Obstruction!"

Before the hearing, Mr Nadler announced that the Justice Department had agreed to turn over some of the underlying evidence from Mr Mueller's report, including files used to assess whether Mr Trump obstructed justice.

In the first breakthrough in weeks of negotiations over the report, Mr Nadler said the department will begin complying with the committee's subpoena on Monday and provide some of Mr Mueller's "most important files". He said all members of the committee will be able to view them.

Mr Nadler said that 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 on 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 spokeswoman 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 evidence.

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 Mr Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill.

The department said it has asked intelligence agencies to preserve all relevant records and access to witnesses.


Key evidence from Robert Mueller probe into Donald Trump to be handed over to US Democratic Party

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