Watergate's John Dean: Kavanaugh confirmation will expand presidential powers

Richard Nixon's former White House counsel John Dean, who spent time in prison for his efforts to cover up the Watergate scandal, plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed it will herald an expansion of presidential power.

"If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, I submit we will have the most pro-presidential powers Supreme Court in the modern era," he wrote in prepared testimony before the committee considering Kavanaugh's nomination. "We should anticipate a majority that will find it increasingly difficult to discover any presidential actions which they do not approve."

Dean, who is one of the witnesses speaking against Kavanaugh's confirmation before the committee on Friday, will go on to chide senators about their conservative credentials. 

"I am old enough to remember when conservative orthodoxy fought the expansion of presidential and executive powers," he says in the prepared remarks.

But he will say that conservatives have slowly done a "one-hundred and eighty degree turn and concocted from whole-cloth" what they call "a unitary executive theory," to give presidents authority over the entirety of the Executive Branch.

Kavanaugh's views have been a central concern for Democrats over the week's marathon confirmation hearings, amid the context of special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Many Democrats have argued that Trump hand-picked Kavanaugh to exonerate him from a potential criminal indictment.

Late Thursday night, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) called Kavanaugh a "human torpedo" that's headed straight for Mueller's probe. 

"You've had a lot of conversations with all of us about the concern that you're basically a human torpedo being launched at the Mueller investigation, so that when it gets to the Supreme Court you'll knock it out," he said.

The committee in its fourth day of hearings on Trump's nominee, during which it will hear from 28 witnesses voicing their support for or opposition to Kavanaugh's confirmation.