John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Thursday that President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen appears to be looking to strike a deal with prosecutors and that it doesn’t “bod[e] well” for Trump.
“I don’t think it is boding well for the president,” Dean said on CNN. “It’s clear, as I read the situation, that Michael Cohen is looking for a deal and he is upping the stakes.”
Dean, the former White House counsel under President Nixon, became a key witness in the Watergate scandal after pleading guilty to a single count of obstruction of justice.
His comments on CNN came just after the network reported that Cohen, who is under federal investigation for his business dealings, is willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump knew of and approved a controversial meeting between his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian attorney in 2016.
That meeting was reported last year by The New York Times. The attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had reportedly offered dirt to the Trump campaign on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump, his aides and his attorneys have all denied that the president knew of the meeting before the Times approached him about it last year.
According to the CNN report, Cohen does not have evidence to back up his claim but is willing to speak with Mueller about his assertion.
Dean recalled Thursday that Nixon had sought to discredit his own account during Watergate, until recordings of the president’s conversations were released.
“When I became a witness, there was a huge effort to discredit me,” Dean recalled. “And it was just my word against Nixon’s until the tape came out, and they worked mightily to try to discredit me.”