Republicans have come out swinging against investigations into Donald Trump after the House Judiciary Committee invited John Dean to deliver public testimony on Watergate and presidential obstruction of justice.
Mr Dean, the White House counsel under former President Richard Nixon, detailed similarities between Mr Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice and that of his ex-boss, calling the connections “exhaustive” and “remarkable.”
The “events in both 1972 and 2016 resulted in obstruction of the investigations,” he concluded.
His comments — and mere presence at the congressional hearing — sparked outcry among the GOP and Mr Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, who called the testimony “theatre” and “ridiculous.”
Among those speaking out against the probes this week included conservative Josh Hawley, who at 39-years-old is the youngest member of the US senate after winning his midterm elections by striking a populist tone and supporting much of the president’s agenda.
The senator told Fox News in an interview on Monday that speaking with Mr Dean was “a total waste of time,” noting what he believed to be bigger issues facing the country like border security.
“Talk about living in the past,” Mr Hawley said on Monday. “The Democrats want to talk about Watergate? I mean this happened before I was born! This is a total waste of time.”
Mr Hawley’s remarks drew backlash from groups like the Centre for American Progress Action Fund, a policy institute that wrote in a tweet: “This would be laughable if it wasn’t so alarming that Republicans will defend Trump at any cost, no matter how nonsensical the argument.”
However, other conservatives and allies of Mr Trump continued to slam Democrats for inviting Mr Dean to the hearing, noting he was charged for his role in the Watergate scandal and claiming he wasn’t credible to discuss the president’s alleged obstruction.
Mr Trump himself called the former White House counsel a “sleaze bag attorney” and a “loser for many years.”
As for Mr Dean, the former counsel said he was “honoured” to be on the president’s list of enemies.
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