Bernstein: 'No Question' Clinton 'Lied,' But Trump 'Authoritarian'

Appearing as a guest on Friday's New Day, CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein argued that, even though there is "no question" that Hillary Clinton "lied" about her improper use of a personal email server as Secretary of State, both she and Bernie Sanders are more in line with adhering to "constitutional traditions" than "authoritarian" Donald Trump, whom he compared to Latin American dictators.



Bernstein described Trump as "thuggish" as he brought up the "authoritarian" label and played up the GOP candidate as historically different in a bad way from other presidential candidates:

This election is about much more than Republicans and Democrats. It is about Donald Trump, who is a total break in American history. He is an authoritarian. The lead in the New York Times today, a factual story about experts in all kinds of fields across the country talking about how he doesn't believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the separation of powers.

We are talking about a maximum leader, an authoritarian. We've never had anything like this in our history. And the question is: Are we going to elect a President of the United States who is a thuggish, maximum leader who operates in total contradiction, disrespect, and disdain for our history, and our constitutional traditions?

As co-anchor Chris Cuomo began to list some of the criticisms against Clinton's honesty with regard to the State Department inspector general finding that she broke the rules with her private email server, Bernstein jumped in to declared that she had "lied." Bernstein:

Let's cut to the chase. She's lied about this. There is no question about it -- whether you quote me, you quote Chuck Todd on MSNBC or Andrea Mitchell -- she has. And it's an awful thing, and, at the same time, you got to ask about Donald Trump's lying: Who's the bigger liar here? But the real question is about what kind of  President -- do we have a President in the tradition of out constitutional principles in this country, which any of the Democratic nominees -- whether it's Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders represent -- there are independent candidates who represent that. But the question of Donald Trump is the underlying question in our history in this election...

After co-host Alisyn Camerota pushed back on whether Trump's criticism of the media was a valid reason to argue that he does not respect the U.S. Constitution, Bernstein added:

It's not about picking fights and insulting people. It's about what he's said about what he's going to do to the press, about what he believes about there ought to be lawsuits against the press, that we ought to change the libel system. Also, just about freedom of speech at his own rallies. He is an authoritarian. I keep coming back to that word. And we haven't had anything like this in our politics that's reached this level. You have to go back to the demagoguery of Huey Long. You have to look at Sinclair Lewis in our literature talking about it can't happen here, about a kind of creeping neo-fascism in America.

The CNN commentator then brought up Latin American dictators:

That's not to say Donald Trump hasn't identified in a resonant way with voters about the fact that our institutions in this country aren't working, but his solutions are those of the maximum leader. They are those of a Juan Peron, of a Latin American kind of dictator. This is something that Republicans are addressing.

Concluding the segment, he asked:

\Does the Republican Party of the United States really want to throw in their cards with someone who is antithetical to what Lincoln stood for, Eisenhower stood for, Reagan stood for. Reagan was not an authoritarian. This is sui generis, it is one of a kind, and it is dangerous.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, June 3, New Day on CNN:

7:30 a.m. ET
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we're seeing a much, much bigger question that now is raised. This election is about much more than Republicans and Democrats. It is about Donald Trump, who is a total break in American history. He is an authoritarian. The lead in the New York Times today, a factual story about experts in all kinds of fields across the country talking about how he doesn't believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution, the separation of powers.

We are talking about a maximum leader, an authoritarian. We've never had anything like this in our history. And the question is: Are we going to elect a President of the United States who is a thuggish, maximum leader who operates in total contradiction, disrespect, and disdain for our history, and our constitutional traditions? Many Republicans have been the first to recognize this.

CHRIS CUOMO: But many Republicans are also ignoring and mitigating these qualities you're pointing out as your opinion of Donald Trump because of what they believe about Hillary Clinton. And this inspector general report -- while from the left you'll say, "Well, the inspector general said the emails, nothing illegal, no laws were broken" -- on the other side, a lot of people who are looking for an alternative to her say it shows everything they want. Let's put up the findings in the IG report. That the idea that she asked permission for this is sketchy at best. That the personal server made it different than, you know, anything that had been done before-

BERNSTEIN: Let's cut to the chase. Let's cut to the chase. She's lied about this. There is no question about it -- whether you quote me, you quote Chuck Todd on MSNBC or Andrea Mitchell -- she has. And it's an awful thing, and, at the same time, you got to ask about Donald Trump's lying: Who's the bigger liar here? But the real question is about what kind of  President -- do we have a President in the tradition of our constitutional principles in this country, which any of the Democratic nominees -- whether it's Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders represent -- there are independent candidates who represent that. But the question of Donald Trump is the underlying question in our history in this election, and that's what it's going to be decided on, I believe.

(...)

It's not about picking fights and insulting people. It's about what he's said about what he's going to do to the press, about what he believes about there ought to be lawsuits against the press, that we ought to change the libel system. Also, just about freedom of speech at his own rallies. He is an authoritarian. I keep coming back to that word. And we haven't had anything like this in our politics that's reached this level. You have to go back to the demagoguery of Huey Long. You have to look at Sinclair Lewis in our literature talking about it can't happen here, about a kind of creeping neo-fascism in America.

That's not to say Donald Trump hasn't identified in a resonant way with voters about the fact that our institutions in this country aren't working, but his solutions are those of the maximum leader. They are those of a Juan Peron, of a Latin American kind of dictator. This is something that Republicans are addressing. That's what you're hearing from the governor of New Mexico, and the question for Republican leaders, and it's very interesting what Ryan has done here. He's saying, "Okay, I'll throw in my cards with this guy."

Does the Republican Party of the United States really want to throw in their cards with someone who is antithetical to what Lincoln stood for, Eisenhower stood for, Reagan stood for. Reagan was not an authoritarian. This is sui generis, it is one of a kind, and it is dangerous.

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