Nixon administration attorney John Dean told Slate on Saturday that White House counsel Don McGahn did the “right thing” cooperating “extensively” with the ongoing Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, as reported by The New York Times.
McGahn is “doing exactly the right thing, not merely to protect himself, but to protect his client. And his client is not [President] Donald Trump; his client is the office of the president,” said Dean, who was White House counsel under Richard Nixon.
He also said McGahn was smart to make an early move and avoid the risk of being blamed for any potential illegalities.
“I think there is good reason for McGahn to believe that Trump would throw him under the bus, since Trump throws almost everyone under the bus,” Dean said. “Self-preservation is a real motive.”
Dean was in a similar situation during the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. He ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice, but also ultimately cooperated with prosecutors.
McGahn told people that he wanted to avoid Dean’s fate, according to the Times.
Dean said that Nixon, just as Trump reportedly does, treated the White House counsel as his own personal attorney.
The difference between the presidents, Dean tweeted Saturday, is that Nixon was “generally very competent,” even though he “bungled and botched” his handling of Watergate. Trump, on the other hand, is a “total incompetent” who is also “bungling and botching his handling of Russiagate,” he tweeted.
Dean also speculated that unlike Nixon “Trump won’t leave willingly or graciously.”
Dean had one more piece of advice, via a tweet, for Trump’s staff: Get out while you still can:
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the first name of White House counsel Don McGahn.