Watergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump 'he's going too far'

John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, suggested on Tuesday that former President Nixon would have told President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE he’s “going too far” by trying to order the Justice Department to prosecute former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official Trump shock leaves Republicans anxious over 2019 Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report MORE and former presidential opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Comey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official MORE.

Dean, Nixon’s former White House counsel, appeared on CNN to discuss the bombshell report from The New York Times, which said that Trump had floated prosecuting the pair to his White House counsel.

CNN host John Berman called the move the “definition of Nixonian.”

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“If I had to channel a little of Richard Nixon, I think he’d tell this president he’s going too far,” Dean said. “This is the sort of stuff of a banana republic. This is what an autocrat does.”

Trump has a tendency not to “back off” until he is “forced to,” he added.

“You just said that Richard Nixon would tell Donald Trump he’s going too far?” Berman responded, appearing surprised.

“I think he would,” Dean answered. “This is a level that Richard Nixon never went to, where you went after somebody’s personal wellbeing by a criminal prosecution."

Dean said he listened to tapes of Nixon breaking the law, appearing to reference recordings of the former president discussing the break in at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

“While I heard him break the law on some of those tapes, I never heard him do it by turning on his enemies and trying to put them in jail,” Dean said. “This is really very, very heavy sledding.”

Dean has become an outspoken critic of Trump in recent months, calling him “evil” earlier this month.

Trump reportedly spoke with then-White House Counsel Don McGahn of his desire to prosecute Comey and Clinton in the spring of 2018. 

It is unclear what charges Trump wanted prosecutors to pursue against the pair, the Times noted.

McGahn reportedly brushed off the suggestion and said Trump did not have the authority to do so but then informed the president he could.

He later warned Trump that such a request would likely elicit accusations of abuses of power.

McGahn had White House lawyers compose a memo outlining the president's authorities, which informed Trump that asking for the prosecutions could lead to Trump's impeachment or other negative consequences.