On Monday, John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel, testified at the Judiciary Committee Hearing called “Lessons From The Mueller Report.” Dean has no connection to the Mueller investigation but is a CNN contributor who has written a number of anti-Republican books in recent years and testified during the Watergate hearings. In other words, Dean’s purpose for testifying at the hearing had nothing to do with facts. He’s just the expert on the disgraced President Richard Nixon, who resigned from the presidency for his involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
There was a memorable exchange between Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Mr. Dean during the hearing. When Gaetz spoke, he entered into the record a December 2005 essay by John Dean, titled “George W. Bush as the New Richard M. Nixon: Both Wiretapped Illegally, and Impeachably.” Gaetz then asked Mr. Dean, “How many American presidents have you accused of being Richard Nixon?” It was a humorous moment, and Dean responded that he had actually written a book called Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.
Gaetz then proceeded to ask Mr. Dean how much money he’s made off accusing presidents of being Richard Nixon, in rebutting an objection to that line of questioning. “How much money do you make from CNN?” Gaetz asked. A flustered Dean was unable to provide an answer, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler came to his rescue, banging the gavel and objecting to Gaetz line of questioning.” But Gaetz insisted on making his point. “Wait a second, Mr. Dean has made a cottage industry out of accusing presidents of acting like Richard Nixon. I would like to know how much money he makes based on making these accusations and exploiting them for his own economic benefit.”
Matt Gaetz rips into convicted felon & CNN contributor John Dean, asks him how much money he's made selling books accusing Republican presidents of crimes
Dean says he doesn't know
Gaetz: “How much money do you make from CNN?”
Dean: “Eh— I don’t really know exactly”
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 10, 2019
But this is my favorite part of their exchange:
GAETZ: Do you have personal knowledge regarding the truth or falsity of a single material fact in the Mueller Report?
DEAN: I think if you recall the first thing I said I’m not here as a fact witness.
GAETZ: You’re here to provide historical context.
GAETZ: And throughout history, you accuse presidents of acting like Richard Nixon and you make money off of it.
DEAN: Not all presidents, no.
GAETZ: But, a few. More than one.
DEAN: Those who do act like him I point it out.
So, John Dean said that he’ll point out those who act like Nixon, and cited illegal wiretapping under Bush as Nixonian behavior that was impeachable. Had I had the opportunity to question Mr. Dean—and I would love such an opportunity in light of his testimony today—I’d ask him if he ever accused Barack Obama of being like Richard Nixon for illegal wiretapping by his administration. We know it happened. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden proved that Barack Obama embraced his inner Big Brother during his presidency and expanded surveillance programs that began in the Bush administration into a terrifying domestic surveillance program of massive scope.
In 2013, The Washington Post detailed the program code-named PRISM, under which the NSA and FBI were “extracting audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets” from the servers of nine American internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Apple. Under Obama, the NSA was also collecting the phone records of millions of Americans. This wasn’t targeted surveillance. This was broad, untargeted surveillance right out of a George Orwell novel.
Despite claiming he points out Nixonian behavior when he sees it, I can’t seem to find any essays or books by John Dean criticizing Obama for his huge expansion of domestic surveillance and I can’t find a single quote from Dean calling for Obama to be impeached for it either. What he did do is say that “The Obama Administration has been tougher on those who leak classified information.” After Snowden exposed Obama’s domestic spying, Dean was more concerned with the leaks than what he previously called impeachable actions.
Dean’s hypocrisy aside, Gaetz held nothing back, and accused Dean of being a Democrat prop. “You are functionally here as a prop. Because [the Democrats] can’t impeach President Trump because 70 percent of Democrats want something that 60 percent of Americans don’t,” Gaetz said. “So they’re in this no-win situation and you sit before us here with no knowledge of a single fact on the Mueller Report on a hearing entitled ‘Lessons from The Mueller Report.’”
John Dean is not an objective expert, he’s an anti-GOP hack and CNN contributor who has basically concluded that being a Republican is an impeachable offense.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis