Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify at Kavanaugh hearing

Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify at Kavanaugh hearing
© Getty Images

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 PortmanSteel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal Lawmakers divided over how to end shutdowns for good 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 FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 ManafortMake the special counsel report public for the sake of Americans Paul Manafort should not be sentenced to 20 years in prison Mueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison 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 SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' 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.