Former White House counsel and key Watergate figure John Dean believes that the White House’s official written impeachment defense is so poorly constructed, it appears that Donald Trump himself had a major hand in writing it.
The U.S. Senate trial of Trump has kicked off this week. The White House made its first legal filings asserting the administration’s position and pushing back against charges that President Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponent. The legal filing called the impeachment proceedings a “brazen and unlawful” attempt to derail the president’s 2020 reelection bid and echoed Trump’s frequent claims that it is a politically motivated witch hunt.
As Newsweek noted, Dean said in an interview on CNN that the brief was filled with false statements and distortions. He predicted that it would fall flat when compared to the detailed legal filings from Democrats laying out the charges against Trump and the evidence that came to light during the House hearings.
“I think it’s actually going to insult some of the lawyers in the Senate if they’re [sic] more detailed brief is of the same tone, they’re making a serious mistake. Lawyers are not going to buy into this. Most members of the Senate, both parties are lawyers,” Dean said.
Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal who eventually provided some of the most damaging evidence against President Richard Nixon, said it appeared that Trump had a major hand in writing the document. He noted that Trump was previously credited with crafting a letter to House leaders, one that Trump reportedly dictated to White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
“I actually thought Trump might have dictated part of this brief like he did the letter that Cipollone sent to Congress that said that what they were doing was not proper,” he said. “It’s of that vernacular. It’s not legally sophisticated. It actually plays to the base.”
That letter also drew plenty of pushback. The Washington Post noted in a fact-check that the letter was riddled with untrue statements, including a false claim that the U.S. Constitution stated there must be a specific crime to base impeachment on. It also pointed out that the transcript of a call between Trump and the Ukrainian president described in the letter as “perfect” was actually only a rough transcript and that many experts said Trump’s attempts to push for an investigation of Joe Biden were “highly unusual.”