Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) was born in 1982, a full decade after the break-in at the Watergate Hotel took place.
Yet he had a lot to say about John Dean, who was Richard Nixon’s White House counsel at the time of the break-in and the subsequent years after when a cover-up by the former president ensued.
Invited to speak to the House Judiciary Committee about the historical context of a president abusing their authority, Dean was attacked at several points by Republican lawmakers seeking to discredit him (and who didn’t appear to want to discuss the current president). Gaetz was among them, accusing Dean of trying to profit off of comparing other presidents — including Donald Trump and George W. Bush — to Nixon.
“Mr. Dean, how many American presidents have you accused of being Richard Nixon?” Gaetz asked, per reporting from Raw Story.
As a back-and-forth ensued between questioner and answerer, objections were raised by the committee chair. But Gaetz pressed on.
“Mr. Dean has made a cottage industry out of accusing presidents of acting like Richard Nixon. I would like to know how much money he makes based on making these accusations and exploiting them for his own economic benefit,” Gaetz said.
“Mr. Gaetz, I appreciate you were not born at the time this all happened. It’s not by choice that I have done a lot of this. It’s that I’ve been dragged into it,” Dean said.
“And throughout history, you have accused presidents of acting like Richard Nixon and you make money off of it, right?” Gaetz retorted.
“Not all presidents, no,” Dean pointed out. “Those who do act like him, I point it out.”
Dean hasn’t, for example, described the actions of six of the last eight presidents as Nixonesque.
Here's Matt Gaetz's no holds barred match with John Dean. Dean lands a knock out blow right at the end. pic.twitter.com/44l2b8WABT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 10, 2019
Still, Gaetz tried to corner Dean, asking him questions about Medicare-for-all — a proposal by some Democratic lawmakers and candidates for president that had nothing to do with the committee hearing held on Monday.
“I figured if we were going to ask you about stuff you don’t know about, we’d start with the big stuff,” Gaetz said.
Dean mocked the questioning by pointing out that Nixon, too, had a health care plan that could be discussed, which aroused chuckles from the audience.
Gaetz followed that up with a longwinded rant, touting conspiracy theories that some on the right have pushed regarding the Mueller investigation. After Gaetz had settled down, he yielded his time, and Dean was allowed to answer the congressman’s question.
“That was a speech, I don’t think I can respond to it,” Dean said. “It’s not sufficient time.”
Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.