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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former White House counsel John Dean, the star witness of the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings, testified on Monday before the House Judiciary Committee about 6 parallels he sees between the Watergate scandal and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of President Trump.

Why it matters: Rather than jumping into impeachment proceedings, House Democrats are seeking to "educate the public" about the Mueller report's findings through televised hearings. Many have made the case that few people have actually read the 400+ page report, and that hearing witnesses testify publicly about what Democrats' view as Trump's brazen corruption will have a potent effect on swaying public opinion.

Dean's parallels

1. Mueller report: When Trump learned that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI about his Russian contacts, he told FBI director James Comey in the Oval Office: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

  • Watergate: When Nixon learned of his re-election committee’s involvement in the Watergate break-in, he told his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman to have the CIA ask the FBI not to continue the investigation for the sake of the country.

2. Mueller report: Trump admitted in a television interview that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.

  • Watergate: Dean compared this to the Saturday Night Massacre, in which Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to carry out an order to remove special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

3. Mueller report: After the press reported that White House counsel Don McGahn had threatened to resign over Trump's order to fire Mueller, Trump directed McGahn to create a false paper trail in order dispute the stories.

  • Watergate: Dean wrote that this incident was much like "Nixon's attempt to get me to write a phony report exonerating the White House from any involvement in Watergate." Dean also said that Nixon sought to influence his testimony after he began cooperating with prosecutors.

4. Mueller report: In addition to McGahn, Trump also pressured former campaign aide Cory Lewandowski and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself and take control of the Mueller investigation.

  • Watergate: Dean said that Nixon attempted to exert control over the Watergate investigation through his former counsel John Ehrlichman and top DOJ official Henry Petersen.

5. Mueller report: After news broke of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower, the president dictated a misleading statement that characterized the meeting as about adoptions.

  • Watergate: After the Watergate break-in, Nixon's aides drafted a false press release that claimed the burglars were not operating "on our behalf or with our consent." Tapes later revealed that Nixon knew the statement was false and suspected that his attorney general had approved the operation.

6. Mueller report: There is evidence that Trump may have "dangled pardons or offered other favorable treatment to Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone" in return for their silence.

  • Watergate: Nixon also dangled presidential pardons to keep witnesses from fully testifying, which he admitted was improper in a conversation with Dean.

The bottom line, according to Dean: Neither the Watergate investigation nor the Mueller probe established that Nixon or Trump conspired to commit the underlying crime (Russian interference in one case and the DNC break-in in the other). Yet Dean argues that "events in both 1972 and 2016 resulted in obstruction of the investigations."

Go deeper

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

1 hour ago - World

Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years

Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time in 15 years that such a decree has been published. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.

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