Why the John Dean Hearing Was Such a Wash for Democrats

Yesterday’s four hour hearing on the Mueller Report was fairly lackluster and got capped at the knees when CNN, MSNBC and Fox chose not to air it. For the most part, I found myself tuning out and struggling to focus on the detailed information being provided by experts. This could be because it was the fifth or sixth time we were going over the same information or that the information experts wanted to highlight were rooted in Mueller’s own analysis and seemed fairly dry. Despite the legal and historical mire of it all, there were a few critical points that were made yesterday and I will highlight them here and you can click on the tweets provided to see the accompanying video.

John Dean Was Solid

Dean’s performance was exceptional and there was no line of questioning he couldn’t handle. He is incredibly informed on this subject matter, which is rare considering the uncharted territory we are in and how long it’s been since Watergate. One of his most effective points was when he explained in simple terms that Mueller had provided us with a “road map” for further investigation of presidential wrongdoing.

Many Prosecutors Want to Charge Trump at Some Point

The Democrats’ idea to give more context to the Mueller report was good in theory, but the reality proved much different. Most people who are going to read the Mueller Report already have and those who did likely sought out analysis weeks ago and have been hearing it on a loop from most cable news channels. Despite this redundancy there were some necessary and biting points made by both Vance and McQuade.

A great cutting moment was when former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance, said that if Trump were not president, he would have been charged with a crime and that she’d be “willing to personally indict the case... and win on appeal.”

Republicans Looked Rediculous

The GOP served no purpose yesterday other than to distract and to provide much needed slapstick flavor at their own expense. Doug Collins (R-GA) made an odd opening statement where he referred to John Dean as a political “Godfather” (Dean worked for Nixon and has been critical of presidents in both parties) and then ironically likened the proceedings to a circus.

I would love to explain what Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) purpose was in his line of questioning but I’m still unsure. He was consumed with emphasizing how much Donald Trump had accomplished but then could only refer to one example, which was moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. If you’re lost for context, don’t worry-we all were.

The best moment of the day came when Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took up a line of questioning with John Dean where he was pretending to be a trial attorney and was clearly outmatched both in skill and in humor. The exchange emphasized how qualified Dean was, how partisan Gaetz was being and how funny the whole fiasco had become.

The Hearings Didn’t Help Democrats Much

Democrats have been eager to re-shape public perception with an accurate summary of the Mueller Report since Barr released his four page memo, but the early damage inflicted by Barr was very apparent yesterday. The choice to use John Dean only fueled GOP Congressmen who were able to divert attention onto Dean’s political motives against Trump. Dean was indeed uniquely positioned to compare Trump’s corrupt behavior with his first hand knowledge of Nixon’s crimes, but the most interesting tidbits of the day made the process seem like Dean was just gossiping with us and dropping interesting interactions with Nixon that we’d never heard before. The focus on Nixon actually helped to draw the attention away from Trump even though I found it very interesting considering Dean is a one of a kind source. Despite the unquestionable expertise and qualifications of the legal witnesses, their testimony only served to highlight that we really need to be hearing from Don McGahn and Robert Mueller himself.


Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero and a Scholar” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.