Watergate whistleblower John Dean believes that whoever leaked special counsel Robert Mueller‘s questions for President Donald Trump could have committed obstruction of justice.
During a phone-in interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Dean was asked about his first impressions surrounding the apparently leaked questions. The former Richard Nixon White House counsel didn’t disappoint. Dean said:
The very fact that the questions are out there, my first reaction, suggesting it could be an act of obstruction just to have released these questions.
Cooper then asked his guest to explain. He continued, “Well, to try to somehow disrupt the flow of information. The tipping off a witness in advance to what the question was going to be…it appears to me more that these are questions somebody wrote down after listening to someone else than necessarily the questions that were designed by the prosecutors.”
According to Dean, the wording in the released questions was not nearly as exact as a prosecutor would have written and the phrasing of the sentences was somehow off-base.
“It’s sort of mechanical,” he said. “It sounds like it could have come out of a discussion with the prosecutors.”
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley was skeptical of Dean’s obstruction angle. On his blog, Turley noted that the questions had already been turned over to Trump’s attorneys by Mueller’s office. Turley said:
I cannot see the basis for such a claim. These were topics discussed between prosecutors and a subject’s counsel. There is no nondisclosure agreement binding a subject who testifies in a grand jury or is interviewed by prosecutors. If that could be the basis for obstruction, prosecutors could silence a host of individuals by simply interviewing them or raising a variety of topics.
Dean has been critical of Trump’s behavior before. In May of last year, he said the president was clearly engaged in a “pattern of behavior” intended to frustrate the Russiagate investigation.
[image via screengrab/CNN]