Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify at Kavanaugh hearing

Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify at Kavanaugh hearing
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John Dean, who served as White House counsel during the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon's presidency, is slated to testify next week at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Dean's addition to the list of expected witnesses on Thursday, two days after releasing an initial list of witnesses including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams House passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump MORE (R), who are both set to testify on Kavanaugh's behalf.

Dean is among more than a dozen witnesses selected by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. The former White House counsel "will speak about the abuse of executive power" during his appearance, according to Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinUS women's soccer team reignites equal pay push US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push Bipartisan senators push new bill to improve foreign lobbying disclosures MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel.

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Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE in June to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, faces a tough confirmation battle in the Senate amid questions over his views on whether a president can be investigated by a special counsel or held liable for criminal activity.

Dean's appearance at the hearing will likely address those questions specifically, as many have drawn parallels between the ongoing special counsel investigation headed by Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and the independent counsel investigation led by Archibald Cox during Watergate.

Trump has escalated his attacks on the Mueller probe in recent weeks, which has secured a conviction for former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement New York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates MORE and a guilty plea from former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The president's criticism of the probe, coupled with speculation that he may fire Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSarah Sanders to leave White House Sarah Sanders to leave White House Barr compares his return to DOJ to D-Day invasion MORE after the midterm elections, has led to increased scrutiny of his Supreme Court nominee.

Some Democrats, including every minority member of the Judiciary Committee, have called for Kavanaugh's hearing to be delayed after Trump's longtime former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty earlier this month to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying Trump was involved in a hush-money scheme during the 2016 election.

"Given the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by the President, doubts that Judge Kavanaugh believes a president can even be investigated, and the unprecedented lack of transparency regarding this nominee’s record, we should not move forward with hearings on September 4th," Democratic senators wrote last Friday.

Kavanaugh's hearing, which is set for Tuesday, is likely to also address concerns from Democrats over whether he believes Roe V. Wade, the landmark case that legalized a woman's right to an abortion, is settled law or could be revisited by the court.