Trump may have ‘dictated’ part of his impeachment defense because arguments are ‘not legally sophisticated’: Former Nixon White House Counsel
John Dean is a veteran of the Watergate era who has been offering insights on President Donald Trump’s many scandals. After having a lot to say about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Dean (who served as White House Counsel under President Richard Nixon) has recently been weighing in on the president's Ukraine scandal. And Dean, during an interview with CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Sunday, speculated that Trump might have “dictated” some of his impeachment defense brief because the arguments used are “not legally sophisticated.”
The 81-year-old Dean told Cabrera, “I actually thought Trump might have dictated part of this brief like he did the letter that (White House Counsel) Cipollone sent to Congress that said that what they were doing was not proper. It’s of that vernacular. It’s not legally sophisticated. It actually plays to the base.”
In the impeachment defense brief, Trump’s attorneys argued that none of Trump’s actions with Ukraine amounted to impeachable offenses and asserted that Democrats are attempting a “brazen and unlawful” campaign to hurt his chances of being reelected in November.
Dean said of the brief, “I think it’s actually going to insult some of the lawyers in the Senate…. Lawyers are not going to buy into this. Most members of the Senate, both parties, are lawyers.”
The former White House Counsel also told Cabrera, “They are not strong legal arguments, and they will not weather the arguments on the floor.”
Dean has first-hand experience with impeachment. In 1973, Dean flipped on Nixon and testified before the Senate Watergate Committee. The former White House counsel pled guilty to obstruction of justice, admitting to supervising hush money payments to the Watergate burglars. Although disbarred from practicing law in Virginia or the District of Columbia, Dean kept busy as an investment banker and author.
Nixon, in 1974, was facing articles of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives. But on August 8, 1974, Nixon resigned — and Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as president the following day. Nixon stepped down before a full House vote on articles of impeachment could come about.
With the House having indicted Trump on two articles of impeachment on December 18 — one for abuse of power, the other for obstruction of Congress — and Speaker Pelosi have given both articles to the Senate, he becomes the third U.S. president to face an impeachment trial. The other two were Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both of whom were acquitted and served out the remainder of their terms.