CNN Tonight host Don Lemon was hardly an outlier among his colleagues in the media when he rejoiced in former White House Counsel and CNN colleague John Dean’s comparisons of the Watergate scandal to the Mueller report during an appearance on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee about President Trump, impeachment, and Watergate.
However, Lemon differentiated himself on Monday night from his fellow journalists by complaining that media coverage of a helicopter crash in New York City eclipsed coverage of Dean’s testimony, which liberals hope will help to shift the public opinion in favor of impeaching President Trump.
Before he got around to praising his colleague, Lemon began his opening monologue by complaining that the helicopter crash “took away...the spotlight off of...what happened on Capitol Hill this afternoon.” God forbid the media actually cover a newsworthy event like someone dying in a helicopter crash in the nation’s largest city as opposed to covering the hearing, which sounded no different than the talking points Dean utters on CNN on a daily basis.
Lemon proceeded to roll out the comparison between Dean’s testimony today and his 1973 testimony during the Watergate controversy: “it was a moment that really brought out the uncanny parallels between the investigations of this President and Watergate.” Lemon put up side-by-side pictures of Dean in 1973 and 2019, referring to Dean as “the Watergate star” and “the star witness in Watergate.” Keep in mind that this “Watergate star” had to surrender his law license after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
After playing a clip of Dean’s testimony, Lemon indicated that he agreed wholeheartedly with Dean's assertions that “the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map...was to President Richard Nixon” and that the report should be an asset to Congress. According to Lemon, a “road map” is “more important than ever as witnesses continue to stonewall and dodge testifying.”
The rest of Lemon's rant concisted of clips in which Dean clashed with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. After agreeing with Dean’s notion that we are living in “troubled times,” Lemon expressed his desire that “the whole process Dean is talking about will be resolved, with an impeachment trial or at the ballot box.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s edition of CNN Tonight is below. Click “expand” to read more.
10:02 p.m. Eastern
DON LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us. You know, it’s been a busy day full of breaking news. And we’re going to catch you up on all of it tonight. But you know what, there was some breaking news that took away, you know, the spotlight off of a lot of things today and you may not have seen what happened on Capitol Hill this afternoon. It was a moment that really brought home the uncanny parallels between the investigations of this President and Watergate. And nobody knows that better than John Dean, of course. He wasn’t just a witness to history. He lived it as White House counsel to a President who resigned rather than face an impeachment trial. So just look at that side by side image that you see there on your screen. Today, the Watergate star, the star witness in Watergate was back before the committee he last faced 46 years ago; testifying for four hours about the Mueller report. The televised hearing intended to drive home to every American exactly what’s in the 448 pages of the Mueller report.
JOHN DEAN: The last time I appeared before your committee was July 11, 1974; during the impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon. Clearly, I’m not here today as a fact witness. In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map, officially titled the Grand Jury Report and Recommendation Concerning Transmission of Evidence to the House of Representatives, was to President Richard Nixon. Stated a little differently, Special Counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map.
LEMON: A road map. That’s more important than ever; as witnesses continue to stonewall and dodge testifying. And from one White House counsel to another, John Dean laid out exactly why he thinks Don McGahn should testify; pointing out that McGahn is the only witness that Mueller expressly labeled as reliable and saying this.
DEAN: I certainly hope Don McGahn is a key witness before this committee. Because of my testimony, the model code of the ABA today makes very clear in rule 1.13 Mr. McGahn represents not Donald Trump, but the Office of the President. His client is the Office of the President and I think he owes that office, his testimony before this committee.
LEMON: Well, after all, McGahn reportedly threatened to resign when the President tried to get him to fire Robert Mueller. Were the President’s actions obstruction? Mueller couldn’t say, but I want you to listen to what John Dean told Anderson Cooper tonight.
DEAN: While this wasn’t an impeachment hearing, I think all the signals are from Mueller that that…he expects the Congress to deal with the issues he couldn’t.
LEMON: But this was a day full of fireworks, especially this explosive exchange between Dean and Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican and another Trump ally. You’ve really got to hear the whole thing. He bounces around from demanding to know how much money Dean has earned from books that he’s written to asking him about Medicare for no apparent reason to asking him if he should get out a Ouija board and summon the specter of Richard Nixon. No, seriously, he said that.
REP. MATT GAETZ: Mr. Dean, how many American Presidents have you accused of being Richard Nixon?
DEAN: I actually wrote a book about Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney with the title “Worse than Watergate.”
GAETZ: So it’s, so it’s…it’s sort of become a cottage…did you make money on that book?
DEAN: It was a very successful book, yes.
GAETZ: How much money did you make on it?
DEAN: I’m sorry, I don’t have any idea.
GAETZ: More than a million bucks?
GAETZ: More than a half a million bucks?
DEAN: I said I don’t have any idea.
GAETZ: How much money do you make from CNN?
DEAN: I don’t really know exactly.
REP. JERRY NADLER: I, I think I’m going to object to the, to the personal…
GAETZ: Wait a second. Wait a second. Mr. Dean has made a cottage industry out of accusing Presidents of acting like Richard Nixon, I would like to know how much money he makes based on making these accusations and exploiting them for his own economic benefit.
NADLER: You can…
DEAN: Mister, Mr. Gaetz…Mr. Gaetz, I appreciate you were not born at the time this all happened. The…it’s not by choice that I’ve done a lot of this. It’s that I’ve been dragged into it.
GAETZ: Who forced you, who forced you to accuse George W. Bush of being Richard Nixon?
DEAN: Who forced me to? It was right after I had spent ten years in a lawsuit knocking down false statements about what my role had and hadn’t been.
GAETZ: Well, let’s speak now to the truth or falsity of statements. Do you have personal knowledge regarding the truth or falsity of a single material fact in the Mueller report?
DEAN: I think if you recall the first thing I said, I’m not here as a fact witness.
GAETZ: You’re here to provide historical context?
GAETZ: And throughout history, you accuse Presidents of acting like Richard Nixon and you make money off of it, right?
DEAN: Not all presidents, no.
GAETZ: No, but a few, more than one.
DEAN: Those who do act like him, I point it out.
GAETZ: Let me ask you this question. How do Democrats plan to pay for Medicare for all?
DEAN: I’m sorry.
GAETZ: How do…well, I figured if we were going to ask you about stuff you don’t know about, we’d start with the big stuff. So, do you know how they plan to pay for Medicare for all?
DEAN: Who, the Democrats or which candidate, or can you be more specific?
GAETZ: Let’s get specific to Nixon; since that appears to be why you’re here. Do you believe…
DEAN: Well, actually Nixon did have a health care plan.
GAETZ: Good, good. Well, do you believe if we…if we turned the lights off here and maybe lit some candles, got out a Ouija board we could potentially raise the specter of Richard Nixon?
DEAN: I doubt that.
GAETZ: Well, it seems to be, it seems to be the objective. You know, here we sit today in this hearing with the ghost of Christmas past, because the chairman of the committee has gone to the Speaker of the House and sought permission to open an impeachment inquiry, but she has said no. And so instead of opening the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, which is what the chairman wants to do and what I presume a majority of Democrats want to do, we’re here reopening the impeachment inquiry potentially into Richard Nixon, sort of playing out our own version of That ‘70s Show.
LEMON: That happened. And in the face of all that, the President reacted pretty much the way you’d expect.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, John Dean’s been a loser for many years. So, I’ve been watching him on one of the networks that is not exactly Trump oriented and I guess they paid him a lot of money over the years. No, John’s been a loser for a long time. We know that. I think he was disbarred and he went to prison. Other than that, he’s doing a great job.
LEMON: I started out talking about the parallels between the investigations of this President and Watergate. So, let’s listen to what John Dean says about that.
DEAN: Congressman, when I worked for, for Mr. Nixon, I was really never worried about what the outcome would be and how it would be resolved. I’ve got to tell you that from the day Mr. Trump was nominated and I was following in a separate set of polls, The Los Angeles Times as well as the Monmouth Polls and it looked pretty clear to these pollsters that Mr. Trump had a very good chance of winning. And I began developing a knot in my stomach that sits there to this day. So, I’m trying to deal with that in the best way I can to try to tell people these are troubled times and we should go through these processes and sort them out. So, anything I can do to add to the process, I’m more than willing.
LEMON: Troubled times. The question tonight, and I’ve said this before, is how this whole process Dean is talking about will be resolved, with an impeachment trial or at the ballot box. So, did the members of the Judiciary Committee get the answers they need from today’s hearing?