Ex-Virginia deputy AG: John Dean testimony shows public looking for 'barometer' on Trump actions

A former deputy attorney general for Virginia told Hill.TV that John Dean’s congressional testimony this week shows the public is looking to measure President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE's actions up against the Nixon administration's during the Watergate scandal.

“People are looking for some barometer for which to measure the president’s actions,” said Stephen Cobb, who also served in the Obama administration, during an interview Tuesday. “For some, they keep harkening back to the times of Nixon, so they want to bring somebody in who can say, 'This is better, this is worse, this is similar.'”

Cobb pushed back against conservatives who have questioned the legitimacy of Dean’s testimony.

“It’s not an issue of legitimacy,” he said. “No one was bringing in John Dean to be a legal scholar. They’re saying, 'How does the actions as outlined in the Mueller report compare to what you saw in the Nixon administration? Should we be holding this president to the same standards that Congress held you to in the 70s?'”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee this week began their hearings on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s report.

Dean, a known Trump critic and key witness in bringing down President Richard Nixon, was approached for testimony to help explain key details from the Mueller report.

During the nearly four-hour hearing on Monday, Dean said the Trump administration is “in fast competition with what happened in the Nixon administration." He also compared the Mueller report to the Watergate “road map” that led to the end of Nixon’s presidency.

Trump later hit back, criticizing the former Nixon White House counsel for his remarks.

“John Dean’s been a loser for many years,” Trump told reporters on Monday.

—Tess Bonn