Watergate's John Dean on Cohen filing: Congress will have to 'start impeachment proceedings'

John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, says allegations made against President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE in a bombshell court filing released Friday are evidence enough for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. 

Dean's comments were made in an appearance on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" shortly after the memo in a case involving Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen was released by federal prosecutors in New York. 

The filing — which recommends prison time for Cohen, despite his cooperation with federal prosecutors and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerGraham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' House progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller MORE's investigation — includes Cohen's claim that he was instructed by Trump to approve payments that violated campaign finance law.


Asked by Burnett about those illegal payments, Dean said Friday that Cohen "implicated Trump directly,” and it could lead to impeachment proceedings.

“I don’t know that this will forever disappear into some dark hole of unprosecutable presidents,” Dean, President Nixon’s former White House counsel, said. “I think it will resurface in the Congress. I think what this totality of today’s filings show that the House is going to have little choice the way this is going other than to start impeachment proceedings.”

While the start of impeachment proceedings ultimately remains unlikely, Democrats' control of the House starting next month makes a push for impeachment more of a possibility than it was earlier in Trump's presidency.

Democrats will also have new subpoena powers when they take control the House starting in January.

Following the filing Friday, however, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed it revealed "nothing of value that wasn't already known."

“The government’s filings in Mr. Cohen’s case tell us nothing of value that wasn’t already known," Sanders wrote. "Mr. Cohen has repeatedly lied and as the prosecution has pointed out to the court, Mr. Cohen is no hero.”