Key figure in the Watergate scandal and former counsel of the White House John Dean has said that the behavior of President Donald Trump is worse than disgraced former President Richard Nixon.
The former counsel’s remarks came after allegations that the President had pushed the Justice Department to probe then-FBI director James Comey and Hillary Clinton.
CNN’s John Berman said to Dean that this plan was “the definition of Nixonian.” The New York Times also reported that the President’s move to prosecute his two major opponents sparked backlash from White House counsel Don McGahn, who stepped down last month.
“If I had to channel a little of Richard Nixon, I think he’d tell this President he’s going too far. This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic. This is what an autocrat does,” Dean told Berman.
He added that Trump “won’t back off” in his pursuit of authoritarian politics “until he’s forced to.” The Times explained that his proposal to prosecute Clinton and Comey was rebuffed by McGahn, who told the President he did not have the authority to order legal action.
McGahn and other White House lawyers reportedly followed up with a letter warning Trump of a range of possible consequences if he pursued prosecution, including impeachment.
“You just said that Richard Nixon would tell Donald Trump he’s going too far?” Berman asked Dean.
“I think he would… This is a level that Richard Nixon never went to where you went after somebody’s personal well-being by a criminal prosecution,” Dean answered.