U.S.

Mueller’s Report Is Most ‘Damning’ Investigation of Any President, Former Nixon White House Counsel Says

John Dean, who served as White House counsel for former President Richard Nixon, has said that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is “more damning than all” the other prominent reports about a president’s conduct since the Watergate scandal.

Appearing for an interview on CNN with host Jake Tapper, Dean theatrically held up copies of the Watergate report, the Iran-Contra report and Ken Starr’s report on the Clinton presidency, saying he’d reviewed and compared them to Mueller’s report.

“This report from the special counsel is more damning than all those reports about a president. This is really a devastating report,” the legal expert said.

GettyImages-1137904614 An illustration shows printed pages of the redacted Mueller report at an office on April 18 in Washington, D.C. EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images

Asked by Tapper to comment on Trump officials who, according to the report, have refused orders to carry out unethical and potentially illegal actions, Dean also drew a comparison to Nixon. “That wasn’t uncommon with Nixon either,” he said, pointing out that “top aides” on occasion did not “carry out everything requested and often restrained Nixon.”

“That didn’t absolve him, however, of the problems he was confronted with,” he pointed out.

Dean also said Attorney General William Barr’s press conference and manner of releasing the report was “very disappointing,” again referring back to Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

“One of the post-Watergate norms was that attorney generals did not serve as the president’s personal counsel,” he said. “The office of legal counsel [at the Justice Department] is not his private law firm. It operates for the Office of the President, and Mr. Barr today violated all the norms that have been established post Watergate and took us back right into Nixon-ian type operations.”

Nixon inevitably resigned the presidency in 1974, making the decision to avoid impeachment proceedings. His vice president, Gerald Ford, then became president and controversially pardoned Nixon for his actions in the Watergate scandal.

GettyImages-1137873239 Attorney General William Barr arrives for a press conference about the release of the Mueller report at the Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C., on April 18. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Other legal analysts have drawn parallels between Trump and Nixon in the wake of the Mueller report’s public release on Thursday morning.

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Elliot Williams appeared for an interview with MSNBC, in which he said, “There is eminently Nixon-ian behavior here that we’re seeing.” Lawyer and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also pointed to Nixon, criticizing Barr for defending Trump against obstruction allegations by citing the president’s frustration over leakers in this administration.

“You know who else was concerned about leaks, Richard Nixon,” Toobin said during a CNN panel discussion. “And he set up a group called the Plumbers—get it plumbers, leaks—and it was illegal. And it was one of the reasons he was impeached, and the idea that being frustrated by leaks is exculpatory is exactly backwards,” he argued.

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