John Dean, a former White House lawyer who had been embroiled in the Watergate scandal, believes that the administration of President Donald Trump is mounting a cover-up following FBI director James Comey's disclosure that he is investigating whether or not Trump's campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
Having served as the White House counsel from 1970 through 1973 under former President Richard Nixon, Dean was charged with obstruction of justice during the Watergate scandal, and presently works as a commentator on abuses of power in the executive branch. In his view, the Trump White House is exhibiting signs of trying to hide a scandal in plain sight.
"They are in a cover-up mode," Dean told MSNBC on March 20. "There's just never been any question in my mind about that. I've been inside a cover-up. I know how they look and feel. And every signal they're sending is: 'We're covering this thing up'... They seem to have learned nothing from history."
Earlier that day, Comey disclosed that the FBI was engaging in an ongoing investigation into whether or not members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government's cyber espionage campaign to interfere in the 2016 election coverage, The New York Times reports.
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Comey stated that his bureau had been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into "the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."
The FBI director did not offer any details of his current findings and did not give any timeline of when the investigation would be closed. The disclosure is not an indictment of the Trump administration, but does confirm that the FBI has reason to suspect illegal activity from the Trump campaign.
Dean asserts that the Trump administration has done nothing to dispel suspicions that it has been attempting to cover-up a potential scandal. He said that investigators know "how people react when they're being pursued, and this White House is not showing their innocence, they're showing how damn guilty they are."
The former Nixon adviser pointed to White House press secretary Sean Spicer's statement that Paul Manafort had minimal involvement in the Trump campaign.
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Spicer said that Manafort had a "limited role for a very limited amount of time."
Manafort had worked as the Trump campaign manager from March through August 2016. He resigned amid accusations that he had received payments from both Russia and a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, according to CNN.
Dean likened Spicer's dismissal of Manafort's role in the campaign to how Nixon had disowned him during the Watergate scandal.
"When it became clear that I had broken rank... suddenly Nixon had never had any meeting with me at all... Well, we had 37 meetings about Watergate," Dean said.
Dean has been a vocal critic of Trump and his alleged conflicts of interest. On Jan.17, the former White House counsel voiced alarm over Trump's ascendancy to the Oval Office, asserting that he would be more mired in scandal than Nixon.
"I don't think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump," Dean told The Atlantic.