Nixon White House Counsel Says Trump’s Lawyer Has a Duty to Report ‘Obstruction’ to Congress

If White House Counsel Don McGahn felt President Donald Trump was committing an obstruction of justice, he had an obligation to go to the highest authority, according to John Dean, the former White House counsel under President Richard Nixon.


In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Dean responded to the recent New York Times revelation that Trump demanded McGhan influence Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Dean explained that the White House counsel’s duty is to the American taxpayer and that they are hired to protect the office of the president, regardless who occupies that position. That is different than a lawyer for Trump personally.

“Rule 1.13 of the Model Code of Professional Ethics, put out by the American Bar Association, it’s representing an organization, it’s the organization that he owes the loyalty to,” Dean explained, meaning the executive branch. "It is to the Office of the President in his case. That’s what he represents. As does Ty Cobb. When they’re on the payroll of the White House, they represent the Office of the President, not the man who occupies it.”

“So, if they’re aware of wrongdoing for attempts at obstruction or whatever it may be, they — do they have a duty to discuss that with somebody like Robert Mueller?” Cooper asked.

“They have to take it to the highest authority if they’re aware of a crime, and with the president it’s probably Congress,” Dean explained. Both chambers of Congress are Republicans who aren’t likely to act against a member of their own party.

Watch the full commentary below:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close