Bernstein Finds White House 'Terrified' Clinton 'Blowing Up Own Campaign,' Invokes Nixon

Appearing as a guest on Saturday's CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow, CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein declared that, after spending time talking to the White House about Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to Goldman-Sachs, that they are "horrified" that Clinton is "blowing up her own campaign," and invoked President Richard Nixon's tapes as possibly comparable to the transcripts of her speeches.

As he described apparent panic at the White House, Bernstein used words and phrases like "terrified," "dumbfounded," "tied up in knots," and "beside themselves" to describe reaction to Clinton's "unfathomable" behavior that "has endangered President Obama's legacy."



The CNN commentator began his analysis:

There is a huge story going on. I spent part of this weekend talking to people in the White House. They are horrified at how Hillary Clinton is blowing up her own campaign. They are worried that the Democrats could-

He added:

Well, they are horrified that the whole business of the transcripts, the accepting the money, that she could blow the Democrats' chance for the White House. They want her to win. Obama wants her to win. But Sanders has shown how vulnerable she is. These ethical lapses have tied the White House up in knots. They don't know what to do. They're beside themselves. And now you've got a situation with these transcripts a little bit like Richard Nixon and his tapes he stonewalled on and wouldn't release.

He went on to assert that it is not a "vast right-wing conspiracy" getting her into trouble, but her own actions:

No, what I'm saying is if she stonewalls on it and does not release them and enables Republicans to paint her again into a corner, this is not just a vast right-wing conspiracy that is causing her problems. She has caused herself these problems. The server is not the vast right-wing conspiracy. It's Hillary Clinton deciding she could put a server in her closet. The same with these transcripts. The same with accepting this money in a presidential year when she knew that she was probably going to be running for President.

To people in the White House that I talked to, it is unfathomable that she did this and has endangered President Obama's legacy. As I say, they are terrified at this point, and they want Bernie Sanders to not do well on Tuesday and Hillary to do well because if this keeps going like that, they see real problems ahead.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Saturday, February 6, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow:

7:15 p.m. ET
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is a huge story going on. I spent part of this weekend talking to people in the White House. They are horrified at how Hillary Clinton is blowing up her own campaign. They are worried that the Democrats could-

HARLOW: What are they saying to you?

BERNSTEIN: Well, hey are horrified that the whole business of the transcripts, the accepting the money, that she could blow the Democrats' chance for the White House. They want her to win. Obama wants her to win. But Sanders has shown how vulnerable she is. These ethical lapses have tied the White House up in knots. They don't know what to do. They're beside themselves. And now you've got a situation with these transcripts a little bit like Richard Nixon and his tapes he stonewalled on and wouldn't release.

HARLOW: You think, whoa, whoa, so, Carl Bernstein, let's dissect that for a moment, right? I mean, your investigation brought down a presidency. You know scandal. So our viewers know what you're talking about the transcripts-

BERNSTEIN: A lot more involved in our investigation, but Nixon brought himself down.

HARLOW: Let's pull up the numbers so voters can see what we're talking about in terms of how much Hillary Clinton was paid for these speeches for the big banks from 2013 to 2014. We're talking about $1.8 million -- $675,000 of that from Goldman-Sachs. You're talking about the question that Chuck Todd asked her in the debate this week: Will you release the transcripts? Joel Berstein from her camp said, "I don't think people are really interested in what these speeches said. They were on foreign policy, etc." You're saying this is akin to the tapes?

BERNSTEIN: No, what I'm saying is if she stonewalls on it and does not release them and enables Republicans to paint her again into a corner, this is not just a vast right-wing conspiracy that is causing her problems. She has caused herself these problems. The server is not the vast right-wing conspiracy. It's Hillary Clinton deciding she could put a server in her closet. The same with these transcripts. The same with accepting this money in a presidential year when she knew that she was probably going to be running for President.

To people in the White House that I talked to, it is unfathomable that she did this and has endangered President Obama's legacy. As I say, they are terrified at this point, and they want Bernie Sanders to not do well on Tuesday and Hillary to do well because if this keeps going like that, they see real problems ahead.

HARLOW: Okay, so I want your response to that answer. What should she have said?

BERNSTEIN: I can't advise her. Maureen Dowd in her column tomorrow calls that answer "obscene." I'll let Maureen speak for herself on that. Some of this is unanswerable because it represents such terrible judgment, which is what people in the White House are saying. They're just dumbfounded by this, and they want her to get back on track. How can they help her get back on track? A big night on Tuesday for Hillary Clinton would go a long way, but I don't think they're expecting it.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters