John Dean, one of the most prominent figures in the scandal that ended the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, predicts that President Donald Trump could be inching toward his own Watergate moment.
The former White House counsel, whose Senate testimony was considered significant in the eventual ouster of his embattled boss, thinks that Fox News could help Trump ride his term to its end in spite of the mounting scandals he faces.
According to Dean, if the conservative news network – which launched more than 20 years after Nixon resigned in disgrace – was around in the '70s, it is possible that Nixon could have "survived" the web of political scandals and cover-ups that surrounded him.
"Nixon might have survived if he had Fox News and the conservative media that exists today," Dean said in a blistering interview last week with Rolling Stone.
Fox News, the Trump's favorite network, is widely known for its supportive coverage of his administration. Trump, who is known for turning to Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity for advice, has "made a point of filling his administration with former Fox News staffers, on-air personalities and executives like (Bill) Shine," the Daily Beast notes.
"Former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert currently serves as the spokesperson for the State Department; longtime Fox News commentator John Bolton serves as Trump's national security adviser; Fox News commentator Mercedes Schlapp, currently the White House’s director of strategic communications, was considered a potential frontrunner for the job given to Shine,” according to the news organization.
More recently, the president's newly-separated eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., brought his new girlfriend, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, to the White House's Fourth of July festivities.
Trump has elicited broad comparisons to Nixon over the uncertainty surrounding alleged collusion between his presidential campaign and Russians who meddled in the 2016 election – the focus of a special counsel investigation. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Trump was shown evidence indicating that Putin ordered cyberattacks designed to sway the election as early as January 2017.
Last week, Trump touched off a major political controversy in the fallout of his joint press briefing with President Vladimir Putin of Russia over his assertion that he believed the tyrant's word over the findings of the U.S. intelligence community.
While Dean sees several similarities between the presidencies of Nixon and Trump, he believes that the current political climate favors the White House – a crucial difference that could protect his political future.
"I doubt Trump will be forced from office – even if Mueller has tapes of him talking with Putin about how to rig the election," Dean said. "While we might have a Democratic House after the 2018 elections, which could impeach Trump, I do not see the needed 67 votes in the Senate to find him guilty and remove him from office. And, given the fact he is shameless, he will never resign."
Dean has criticized the Trump White House from its start, and his latest interview further added to that theme.
He told Rolling Stone that he deems Trump "the most incompetent person to ever become president." He also accused him of being "not only insecure and erratic, but uninformed, for he doesn't read history – or know it."
Earlier this year, Dean speculated on Twitter that Trump could be nearing his own Watergate moment after his former campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty of conspiracy against the U.S.
Following the news of Gates' guilty plea, Dean suggested that his testimony could implicate Trump and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
"Mueller is throwing everything he can against Manafort, including Gates who can nail him," Dean tweeted. "Increasingly it appears Manafort is the link to Russian collusion. If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump's blessings, it's the end of his presidency."
In a second tweet, Dean indicated the possibility that Trump could pardon Manafort as a non-issue.
"A number of folks have expressed concern in this Manafort thread that Trump will pardon him," Dean wrote. "Many of the counts in both the VA and DC indictments have state law counterparts that can be charged in NY and VA, where Trump had no pardon power. Checkmate is coming for Paul Manafort."