East Bay Congressman and short-lived presidential candidate Eric Swalwell hosted a town hall meeting in Union City Tuesday evening to which he invited Richard Nixon's White House Counsel and key Watergate figure John Dean.
Dean minced no words during the meeting with Swalwell's constituents, saying, "I just told the congressman that I think that this president is making Richard Nixon look like a choir boy."
As KRON 4 reports, Swalwell answered questions about how he and other House Democrats think they will be able to convince Republicans to support a potential impeachment. "I think it’s the simplicity of the act here and that we have a confession from the President," Swalwell said. "He’s pleaded guilty and I think in many ways, the biggest question for the country will be what is the sentence."
But it was Dean's presence at the meeting that had the biggest effect in terms of historical perspective. Dean, 80, served as Nixon's White House Counsel from July 1970 to April 1973, and he ended up being a key witness in the Watergate hearings with regard to the cover-up effort that was Nixon's ultimate undoing. After suspecting he was being made to be a scapegoat, Dean began cooperating with Senate Watergate investigators, after which he was fired by Nixon. He would later plead guilty to obstruction charges and spend four months in prison for his role in making "hush money" payments to the Watergate burglars.
Dean has reemerged this week to give commentary on the historic impeachment inquiry beginning in Congress, writing an op-ed today for CNN in which he discusses how the Justice Department and U.S. Marshals protected him when he served as a whistleblower against a president.
Dean also gave an interview to the Chronicle on Monday in which he discussed how he hoped that a person who had been deep within Trump's circle would ultimately come forward, saying he hopes it will be former White House counsel Don McGahn. "Maybe McGahn will come forward. He’s got to understand it is not a pleasant route. No one likes to be a tattletale. No one really wants to be a whistle-blower unless they’re deeply offended."
Regarding Trump's behavior in the Ukraine call, Dean says, "There is enough evidence of an abuse of power, a breach of his oath of office. What they need to do is get evidence that fleshes it out."
Government in action.
Rep. Eric Swalwell and John Dean speaking about Impeachment. Yes, the John Dean I watched on a TV way back when (while baby sitting) during the Watergate hearings. pic.twitter.com/PzwM9Bwn12
During Tuesday night's meeting in Union City, per KRON 4, Dean said, "I went through literally hundreds of hours of tapes -- I heard Nixon in all kinds of circumstances. I saw the dark side of him. I saw some people in the office brought out that dark side. But the darkest Richard Nixon I can see in the Rose Garden in Donald Trump in the way he handles situations."
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, who represents Contra Costa County, held his own town hall on Tuesday, and faced some more pushback on the impeachment inquiry from that county's Republicans. As NBC Bay Area reports, some meeting attendees expressed their displeasure with the process, with one saying, "I don't believe in impeachment."