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Ex-Nixon aide John Dean slams GOP health care plan at Mueller hearing

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John Dean, the former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon and the star witness at the Watergate hearings, pulled no punches while testifying to Congress about the Mueller report Monday.

The session devolved into two separate hearings. While Democrats pressed Dean and other witnesses on the merits of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings in the Russia probe, Republicans spent more time questioning Dean’s credibility and suggesting it’s not his place to comment on the Mueller report.

One of those Republicans was Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida, who accused Dean of comparing many presidents to Nixon to make money.

“Mr. Dean, how many American presidents have you accused of being Richard Nixon?” Gaetz asked.

“I actually wrote a book about [former President George Bush] and [former Vice President Dick Cheney] with the title, ‘Worse Than Watergate,'” Dean quipped, as a wave of laughter rippled through the committee room.

Gaetz went on to grill Dean about how much money he made from the book, as well as his job as a CNN contributor. Dean replied that he didn’t have specific figures, after which House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler interjected and said he objected to Gaetz asking Dean personal questions.

Read more: Nixon’s ex-White House counsel John Dean laid out 6 striking parallels between the Mueller report and Watergate investigation

“Wait a second, wait a second,” Gaetz said. “Mr. Dean has made a cottage industry out of accusing presidents of acting like Richard Nixon. I would like to know how much money he makes based on making these accusations and exploiting them for his own economic benefit. And you’re saying that’s out of line?”

Dean replied: “Mr. Gaetz, I appreciate you were not born at the time this all happened. It’s not by choice that I’ve done a lot of this. It’s that I’ve been dragged into it.”

After some more back and forth, Gaetz asked Dean whether he had “personal knowledge” of the facts laid out in Mueller’s report. Dean replied that he stated at the beginning of the hearing that he was not there as a fact witness, but to provide historical context.

“Let me ask you this question,” Gaetz said. “How do Democrats plan to pay for Medicare-for-all?”

“I’m sorry?” Dean said.

“Well, I figured if we were going to ask you about stuff you don’t know about, we’d start with the big stuff,” Gaetz said. “So, do you know how they plan to pay for Medicare-for-all?”

After Dean asked Gaetz if he could be more specific about who he was referring to, Gaetz interrupted him again.

“Well, let’s get specific to Nixon, since that appears to be why you’re here —” Gaetz began, before Dean cut him off.

“Well, actually, Nixon did have a health care plan,” Dean said, as the room burst into laughter and applause.

“Few people today would dare call President Richard Nixon a radical liberal,” Dr. Gary Freed, a professor at University of Michigan, wrote in 2015. “But 44 years ago, he proposed a health plan that went far beyond what today’s Affordable Care Act includes. After the first plan failed, he did it again three years later.”

Watch the exchange below:

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