John W. Dean likes to refer to himself as a “Nixon historian” these days, which is more or less like calling Willie Cicci the “chronicler” of the Corleone family saga.
Politico reports that House Judiciary Committee is preparing to call the “Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel” to testify about the Mueller report, in “an effort to draw public attention” to the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The word “star,” often used to describe Dean, is, at best, a poetic truth. His expertise on the issue of impeachment, long sought by liberals, was acquired by helping plan one of the most infamous scandals in American political history, snitching on everyone who conspired with him and then cashing in on the fallout for the next 47 years.
It’s what someone in Cicci’s line of work might call a “racket.” Good work if you can get it.
As White House counsel, Dean had known about the eavesdropping that ended the Nixon presidency even before Nixon did. He was not some innocent man swept up in the ugly currents of history. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert accused Dean of not only being “at the center of the criminality” but also withholding crucial evidence while plea bargaining his way out of trouble.
There’s no evidence that Dean agreed to be a whistleblower because of a tortured conscience or because he wanted to preserve law and order or even because he was attempting to save the Nixon presidency, as he likes to claim. There is evidence, however, that he turned to the Feds when Nixon refused to promise him immunity from prosecution.
Was Dean on Nixon’s list? Well, no doubt he was reviled by the White House once he turned on the president. Anyone who’s read about Watergate, though, is likely aware that the non-fictional Dean was sent the infamous Enemies List back in 1971.
Did he heroically run to the Justice Department? Did he leak it the news to the media? No, his office wrote a confidential memo detailing how the list could utilize “available federal machinery,” like tax audits from the IRS, “to screw our political enemies.” It was Dean who, after Nixon suggested that if he wins a second term the White House should target the president’s enemies more aggressively, responded, “That’s an exciting prospect.”
I’ve seen Dean get away with bragging about how he warned Nixon that there was “a cancer on the presidency” on numerous occasions. As the audiotape of the incidentshows, Dean was referring to a political threat to Nixon, not an ethical one that threatened the office. Here he is, making the claim—while conspiracy mongering about the Russia investigation—to CNN’s Jake Tapper, who gets a kick out of the idea that Trump believes Dean, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and disbarred, might be the “villain” in this story. He was surely one of them.
Dean is a useful guest for a media that hasn’t been able to stop making insipid Watergate comparisons since Watergate itself. For Democrats, and only Democrats, Dean also serves much the same purpose he did in government. A consummate yes man.
It was in 1987 that Dean argued that Ronald Reagan’s Iran-contra scandal was worse than Watergate. Much much worse, in fact. “The Iran-contra inquiries involve matters of national security,” Dean explained at the time. “Watergate, on the other hand, involved the political security of Richard Nixon. These are Major League matters versus Little League.”
It was 2005, when Democrats were toying around with the idea of impeaching George W. Bush, that then-Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter presidential scholars, asking them about comments “by Richard Nixon’s lawyer John Dean that Bush is ‘the first president to admit to an impeachable offense.’”
Dean’s quote was heavily leaned on at time. Hey, if the “star” witness of Watergate says impeachment is on the table, aren’t we compelled to listen? Dean, in fact, had written an entire book—“Worse than Watergate”—making the case that both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be impeached for lying to Congress…………