If House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been in charged at the time of Watergate, Richard Nixon would never have been forced out.
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That is the opinion of famed Washington Post Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, who told Don Lemon on CNN last night that he sees an ominous parallel between what happened then and what is happening now, in that justice is being turned upside down.
Bernstein was reacting to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe being forced after a long, distinguished career, and the House Intelligence Committee vote along party lines to release a memo written by and for partisan committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) that is based highly classified information, even though both the FBI and Justice Department object.
“We may look back on tonight as the ‘Monday Night Slaughter’ of the administration of justice and our institutions of justice in the United States,” said Bernstein, comparing this to the notorious Saturday Night Massacre when Nixon fired the special counsel investigating him for Watergate crimes, later leading to his forced resignation.
Bernstein did not even try to hide his anger and disgust as he added that this is “a real slaughter by an obstructive, irresponsible partisan gang in the House of Representatives that has ut the interests of their party and the president of the United States, and his personal fortunes, above the national interest.”
“I think we’re going to look back on what happened today,” continued Bernstein, “and tonight as a turning point.”
Bernstein has been outspoken about his view of Trump in the past, and what is now happening only proves his point even more.
“Clearly, since he became president Donald Trump has done everything he can in his power working with these enablers on Capitol Hill to make sure that this investigation of him, his family, his aides, his campaign, his transition does not come to fruition and this was part and parcel of it tonight.”
Lemon asked if we are heading toward a constitutional crisis, and Bernstein said he thought something even worse was happening “in the sense that the system may fail.”
“Donald Trump may get away with it, with this,” warned Bernstein, “and by this, I mean shutting down the legitimate investigation of the president of the United States.”
“Look,” added Bernstein, “if the facts are exonerating him then he should be exonerated. But he is trying to suppress the investigation.“
“In Watergate,” recalled the reporter who with his partner Bob Woodward broke the scandal open, “the process and the method and the legitimacy of investigation the president of the United States was upheld by the Supreme Court and Republicans were the heroes in making sure the process went forward.”
“If you had Speaker Ryan and Mitch McConnell as the leaders during Watergate,” said Bernstein with a sigh, “I doubt seriously that that investigation would have gone forward and we would have seen really what we’re seeing now, which is prima facie an obstruction of justice, not in the legal sense but in the practical sense by members of the Congress protecting the members of their own party.”
Bernstein singled out for criticism Nunes who has shown he is partisan and unethical throughout by improperly sharing important evidence with the White House before showing it to his own committee members, and doing everything in his power to derail a real investigation and help pull the presidential bacon out of the fire.
What Nunes and the Republican leadership are doing, points out Bernstein, is exactly what Trump has wanted them to do.
“This president has been focused from the day he took office on making sure that the Mueller and the Russian investigations do not go forward,” said Bernstine, “and he is doing everything in his power to see that continues.”
During Watergate, Bernstein and Woodward were a singular voice, supported by the Washington Post, in the long battle to bring Nixon to justice.
He brings that same fire to this current mess, but this time he recognizes that the president is conspiring with Republicans who are willingly making sure that his power, and their positions, are protected even if the integrity of the American political system is being jeopardized.
Carl Bernstein on Trump: "If he can get his base riled up about a witch hunt — that is more important than the lying we just saw, more important than firing Mueller or giving pardons. … He believes he can get away with just about anything and in fact he has in many regards" pic.twitter.com/mEYleuwzc4
— CNN (@CNN) January 26, 2018