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 PortmanHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing 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 FeinsteinGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel.

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Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades 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 MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by 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 ManafortGiuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties GOP fantasies about Ukrainian election 'interference' blow up Trump's impeachment defense 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 shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe 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.