Watergate White House lawyer compares Barr's press conference to Nixon trying to get ahead of infamous tapes
Nixon White House counsel John Dean. Image via screengrab.

On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," President Richard Nixon's former White House counsel drew a stark parallel between Attorney General William Barr's decision to hold a scripted press conference ahead of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Specifically, Dean said, it was similar to the way his former boss tried to insulate himself from legal problems during the Watergate scandal — and failed.

"John, let's just get to this basic conundrum here," said host Erin Burnett. "The Chairman of the Judiciary is saying Bill Barr's team has said, guys, guess what, 11 a.m. or 12 tomorrow, that's when you're gonna get the report. Obviously the press conference is a couple hours before that, right, 9:30 a.m. What's going on here?"

"Well, it's obviously a conspicuous effort, again, to try to frame the report, to try to shape the news and influence it," said Dean. "And Erin, it's really reminiscent of Watergate days, when Nixon decided to put out some tapes in anticipation that he was going to be asked for more of them. And what they did is they went out and briefed the press beforehand as to what they were going to read, which is not what they would read and tried to shape that there was nothing there."

"And in the long run the — the American public saw it for what it was and were outraged," Dean added.

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