Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen Questions Former White House Counsel John Dean on Mueller Investigation

June 10, 2019
Press Release
Dean says former White House Counsel McGahn learned from history

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, today questioned former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean about former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn’s unwillingness to follow the President’s order to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired, and sought to establish that McGahn’s inaction and willingness to resign over the issue were appropriate.

Congressman Cohen also questioned former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance about the different standards of proof between a criminal prosecution and impeachment proceedings. See the questioning here.

During questioning, this exchange occurred:

Congressman Cohen: “Mr. Dean, understanding the circumstances, was Don McGahn’s decision to ignore the call to get Mueller fired, and McGahn’s reaction – to resign – reasonable, appropriate and commendable?”

Dean: “Yes.”

Congressman Cohen: “Mr. Dean, understanding your history as someone who was in a similar position but chose differently, what do you think Don McGahn was afraid of and why did he feel the need to protect his chief of staff and other advisers?”

Dean: “I think he’s somebody who learned from history.”

Cohen: “And if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it, are we not?”

Later, in questioning Vance, this exchange occurred:

Cohen: “Ms. Vance, you said there was a different standard – that collusion was in plain sight and that we had to prove – when (prosecutors) brought a case they had to win it at trial and had to win on appeal. Is that the same standard Congress would face in an impeachment hearing?”

Vance: “You know, it’s not, and that’s a very good point. We’ve talked a little bit about whether a Congressional inquiry would be a do-over of the Mueller investigation. A Congressional inquiry is very different. When prosecutors consider cases, they have to find a federal statute, a law that you all have enacted, and make sure that a defendant has violated – can prove a violation of all the elements of that statute. So here the notion of a corrupt act, a nexus and corrupt intent.

“When Congress examines conduct in its oversight and impeachment function, your jurisdiction, as I understand it, is much broader. And you could reach conduct that we might categorize as lawful but awful – something that would be so inappropriate for a president that Congress would determine it needed to be sanctioned.”

Cohen: “It’s a different standard but would be the standard be preponderance of the evidence rather than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Vance: “I think that’s correct. The way you deal with impeachment proceedings is largely up to how Congress decides to move forward. The standards that you set, the way that you define high crimes and misdemeanors.”