Watergate Witness John Dean Thinks Trump Has A 'Real Problem' With Don McGahn

"This is pretty important testimony,” Dean said of the White House counsel’s cooperation in the Mueller investigation.

Watergate figure John Dean warned Monday that White House Counsel Don McGahn’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation represents a “real problem” for President Donald Trump.

“This is an invaluable witness. He’s a real-time witness. You can infer ... that he might have been actually testifying very shortly after the events when they were fresh in his memory. He had knowledge of them,” Dean told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “The Lead.”

“He had been asked to do things that were not proper. ... He resisted,” said Dean. “So this is pretty important testimony, and it’s taken Trump 48 hours almost to understand what’s going on here.”

Dean, who had served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon, spoke the day after Trump blasted him as a “rat” on Twitter, referring to Dean’s own cooperation with prosecutors during the Watergate scandal. Trump also suggested that McGahn had no information that could hurt him.

The New York Times had reported Saturday that McGahn spent more than 30 hours talking to Mueller’s team about situations at the center of the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

“That’s a lot of testimony,” Dean said on Monday. “So I think Trump has got a real problem here. And I’m not sure how he’s going to handle it.”

As for Trump calling him a rat, Dean said, “I’m not surprised. He thrives on insulting people in situations. So this is typical Trump.” He defended his actions 45 years ago, saying that he had battled against the Watergate coverup.

Trump has ripped the Times reporting as “fake.” He has portrayed McGahn’s cooperation as his idea and insisted that he has “nothing to hide.”

But while the White House gave McGahn the “greenlight” to answer questions in the investigation, “they have been in the dark” about the extent of his cooperation until the Times article, according to Times reporter Michael Schmidt speaking Monday on the newspaper’s podcast “The Daily.”

“I still don’t think they appreciate the extent to which McGahn has cooperated. We don’t know everything that McGahn did, but it’s more than they think,” he added.

The president “thought that McGahn was going to go in and sort of act as his personal lawyer and say to Mueller, ‘Hey, look, nothing wrong went on here,’” Schmidt said. “I don’t think the president appreciated what McGahn’s cooperation would actually entail.”

The president’s personal lawyers have also “never been given a full accounting” of what McGahn told Mueller, Schmidt said.

Check out the rest of what Dean had to say in the video clip above. And listen to Schmidt delve into the McGahn story in the podcast below:

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the New York Times reporter who appeared on “The Daily” as Richard Schmidt. His name is Michael Schmidt.

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