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‘He Did Know What Shame Was’: John Dean Thinks Nixon Would ‘Be Very Troubled’ by Trump


Famed Watergate whistleblower John Dean said that even his former boss, Richard Nixon, would not be a fan of President Donald Trump.

Dean made the comments during a Saturday morning appearance on MSNBC’s A.M. Joy that was largely a promotional spot for his upcoming book about the authoritarian psychology of the 45th president’s supporters.

Dean is an attorney by trade.

“I want to get your reaction about what Richard Nixon would think about Donald Trump,” host Zerlina Maxwell said near the end of the segment. “Obviously people compare the two. But what do you think Richard Nixon would say watching Donald Trump as president?”

To which Dean replied:

Well, they did have a little correspondence but it was long before Trump was a public figure in the political world. And I think that Nixon would have little tolerance for Trump. There was a core belief in Nixon that respected the rule of law. He did know what shame was. And I think he would see this man for what he is and be very troubled by him.

The former chief White House counsel is a frequent Trump critic and has become a cable news mainstay during the Trump presidency. Dean originally made a name for himself when he opted to testify against Nixon before the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

Dean pleaded guilty to one felony charge of obstruction of justice and received a reduced sentence after agreeing to cooperate as a witness against Nixon. His testimony is widely attributed to the former president’s eventual decision to resign from office in lieu of facing impeachment and removal by the U.S. Congress.

The Saturday television hit was mainly devoted to Dean’s book, Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers, which he co-authored with Bob Altemeyer.

“They have dominating personalities, they’re desirous of personal power, and they’re amoral,” Dean said of authoritarian leaders. “We’ve had a few presidents, maybe four including Trump–Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon and now Donald Trump–who really fit that definition.”

“You don’t go very far as a demagogue unless you have followers,” he continued, addressing Trump’s stalwarts. “That’s the mass of the people. They’re little bit more complex. They’ve been studied much longer about four, five decades now and that’s the focus of this new book of mine where we look at the followers and try to understand who they are because there’s a lot of science on them and it’s very telling and you can’t defeat them if you don’t understand them.”

Maxwell then asked Dean why Trump’s supporters continue to support him even though “180,000 Americans have died on his watch.”

Dean replied with a brief sketch of the president’s followers.

“The key criteria in social science to identify these people is they’re submissive to an authority figure of some sort and then they’re aggressive on behalf of that authority figure,” he noted. “They’re very conventional in their lifestyle. They then tend to have many many other traits. They can be highly religious; they can hold inconsistent positions. They have no real critical thinking skills. They compartmentalize their various beliefs and understandings of the world.”

“[Trump] hasn’t studied this science to understand them,” Dean continued, “He intuitively know what gets them. He knows they’re frightened. He knows that they are highly prejudiced people and so that’s why we’re getting this Fear and Loathing on his campaign this time out–there was a lot of it in 2016 as well–but he understands who they are now and he’s going to go after them with a lot of this fear talk and ‘Law & Order’ as he wants to describe it. Very Nixonian.”

[image via screengrab/MSNBC]

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