President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday seemed “to be planned like a murder,” according to John Dean, the former White House counsel for President Richard Nixon.
In an interview on “CNN Newsroom,” Dean said the ouster was “unlike the Saturday Night Massacre” of October 1973, when the embattled Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and accepted the resignations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general amid the Watergate scandal.
“That was sort of a culmination of disregard for the president's direction as to not go after his tapes,” Dean explained.
“Here, I think this seems to be planned like a murder. Given the fact that the president was asked a question in the press conference this morning, he brushed it off, said ‘we'll deal with it later’ — he's clearly been thinking about it.”
According to Dean, Trump won’t necessarily fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election — but may be aiming “to undercut [Mueller] by the people around him.”
“It is almost impossible not to interpret this any other way than to undercut Mueller,” he said. “But I also think Mueller has been well aware of that and probably has planned for that contingency,” including having already prepared sealed indictments.
Dean said despite the ramifications of the Sessions ouster, he has faith in the U.S. judicial system to survive it.
“The system is not just five judges that are conservatives on the Supreme Court, it is an entire branch of the government,” Dean said. “And even for those five justices, if they do lean towards the president to do precedent breaking action that makes this look like a Banana Republic, you could start losing one or more of those five [to the liberal justices]. We saw that on healthcare with [Chief Justice] John Roberts.”
“I have an underlying faith in the system,” Dean said.