Trump is obstructing justice and has 'a guilty mind’: Watergate’s John Dean
John Dean on CNN (screengrab)

The Department of Justice should be investigating former president Donald Trump for, among other things, witness tampering after he dangled pardons to Capitol insurrectionists, according to former White House counsel John Dean.

After playing a clip of Trump doubling down on his pardon offer in an interview with Newsmax this week, CNN host Jim Acosta asked Dean on Saturday: "Is this witness tampering? It sure sounds like it."

"Boy, it sounds like it to me," Dean responded. "Under the obstruction statute, you don't have to actually succeed in obstruction — and (only) endeavor to do so. And this sounds an awful lot like an endeavor to me, where he's telling witnesses: 'Don't cooperate. If I get re-elected, I've got your back. Bet on me.' So you know, as I say, if the Justice Department isn't tracking this stuff, I don't know what our Justice Department is for."

Dean also weighed in on Mike Pence's rebuke of Trump on Friday, calling on the former vice president to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the Captiol insurrection.

"I think his speech didn't go very far at all," Dean said of Pence. "He just said what everybody knew. He said, 'I'm not a total toady anymore. I'm going to stand up and say the former president is wrong in saying I had the authority.' But he didn't say, 'I think the election was fair and square, and let's just get on with business.'"

Finally, Dean discussed reports that Trump routinely ripped up White House records, after the Jan. 6 committee received documents from the National Archives that had been taped back together.

"Did hearing that give you a Nixon Watergate flashback — people tearing documents?" Acosta asked Dean.

"Yes, this shows a guilty mind," Dean responded. "Somebody who is president had to have been briefed about presidential records — that he had to keep them. And he's destroying documents. His staff, fortunately is putting them back together."

After Acosta pointed out that some documents may have been completely and permanently destroyed, Dean said: "Indeed, I think a lot of evidence is going to come up missing. We understand that a lot of things that were supposed to be in the records never got there, so that hasn't be been sorted out yet."

"It's not a really strong law, the Presidential Records Act, there are no criminal sanctions for it," Dean added. "It's just expected that somebody at that level of government service, or a president, they'll do what the law guides them to do. It's a relatively new law. It started post-Watergate. But I think there's going to be discovered open defiance by the Trump presidency of that law."

Watch the full interview below.

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