President Richard Nixon’s former White House Counsel — and Watergate convict — John Dean says Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to authorize the search Mar-A-Lago is a “brilliant move.” In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Dean calls Trump forgoing his right to privacy “foolish,” and that it will “come back to haunt him.”
“Just as he was served a subpoena, he told nobody. When he was, he had a search at his property, he could have told nobody. But he decided the opposite. He put out a, a really dubious press release when he’s attacked the institution. Where he laid doubt about the process,” the Watergate veteran told CNN.
Blitzer brought up claims from Trump that his legal team had been cooperating fully with the FBI in their investigation – something Dean said, “cannot be the truth.”
Dean, who spent four months in prison for obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate scandal, criticized Trump’s attempts to equate the search at Mar-A-Lago to what happened during the break-in as “pathetic.”
“It’s pathetic. It shows he has no knowledge what happened with Watergate. Watergate was much more than a break-in, of course. It was a cover-up and really it bore the evidence of Nixon’s abuse of power,” Dean reminded the audience.
He also denounced former President Trump’s attacks on the U.S.’s top two law enforcement agencies.
“Nixon was an institutionalist, he wouldn’t attack the FBI and Dept. of Justice in such a blatant and blind way,” Dean claimed.
The removal of top secret and classified documents from the White House by Donald Trump and his aides isn’t just a matter of violating the Presidential Records Act, but one of national security. As someone who has worked in the top legal ranks of the nation’s government, Dean doesn’t believe Merrick Garland would have taken this action if there was any other way to deal with it, telling Blitzer:
“Merrick is not the kind of man who would go to this extreme measure.”
Nixon named Dean to head a special investigation into whether White House personnel were involved in Watergate. When he refused to issue a false report denying a cover-up – and realized the walls were closing in on Nixon and his conspirators – Dean cooperated with the federal investigation.
Watch the interview here.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Dean spent four years in prison. It was actually four months. We have corrected the mistake and regret it deeply.