President Nixon’s former lawyer warned senators Friday to be wary of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, saying the nominee would enable a runaway President Trump.
John Dean, who was White House counsel to Nixon, said Judge Kavanaugh would boost a conservative court majority that he predicted would protect Mr. Trump and his actions.
“I am old enough to remember when conservative orthodoxy fought the expansion of presidential and executive powers,” Mr. Dean told the senators. “The so-called ‘imperial presidency’ was considered undemocratic. But conservatives have slowly done a one-hundred and eighty degree turn.”
Mr. Dean worked in the White House counsel’s office from 1970 to 1973 for Nixon until he was fired. He subsequently helped the prosecution in exchange for a plea deal, and served four months in prison.
Democrats on the committee have voiced concerns about whether Judge Kavanaugh’s legal writings suggest he would treat President Trump as if he was above the law.
They point to a law review article where Judge Kavanaugh argued a sitting president should not face a criminal investigation while in office for the benefit of national security.
Judge Kavanaugh, though, repeatedly testified this week he would be independent from the administration and also the president who nominated him.
“Under our system of government, the executive branch of government is subject to the law,” Judge Kavanaugh said Wednesday.
Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, told Mr. Dean he believes he and his co-conspirators hurt America and although he eventually told the truth, he only did so when he was “cornered like a rat.”
He said it’s hard for him to take Mr. Dean’s testimony seriously.
“The president has also called me a rat,” Mr. Dean responded.