Always prone to use ostentatious rhetoric, CNN contributor Carl Bernstein unloaded Friday afternoon on the release of the Republican House Intelligence Committee memo, telling Jake Tapper that “we may well have not seen such dark days for American democracy and its institutions” to the point that we are “at a crossroads” because of the “demagogic authoritarian” President Trump.
Tapper opened the floor to Bernstein and the famous former Washington Post reporter complained that “[w]e don't know enough because we haven't seen the whole, underlying picture, as the Democrats have pointed out, but there's a much more important historical point to be made here and that we may well have not seen such dark days for American democracy and its institutions since the days of Joe McCarthy.”
Bernstein knocked Trump as a “demagogic authoritarian...using this red herring to contend that there is a witch hunt going on when, in fact, there is a legitimate investigation” in the form of the Trump-Mueller probe.
After insinuating that Russia’s Vladimir Putin won the election for Trump against Hillary Clinton to “ruinous” and “stunning” ends, he added that Republicans will “[h]opefully...get hold of their senses” and accept that “Donald Trump is using this to avoid legitimate investigation and to poison the are institutions of American democracy.”
Tapper let Bernstein fear-monger away for almost two and a half minutes before going on his own commentary masquerading as a question before letting Bernstein take back over.
Bernstein complimented Tapper’s points, hammering the memo released Friday as “a disingenuous, partisan document” and reiterated that it’s perfectly alright for the FISA court to accept information from both biased and unbiased individuals.
“So, this is all a red herring by the President of the United States and his allies in congress, which is sort of unfathomable, if you think that the Republican Party is going to hitch its future to the kind of demagoguery authoritarianism in what we're seeing here,” he continued.
Concluding like he’s performing for Jeffrey Zucker (which it’s safe to say everyone at CNN is doing), Bernstein warned that the country is “at a crossroads” in which we must decide to continue accepting the findings of U.S. v. Nixon, which was that “no one in this country is above the law, including the President of the United States.”
Following almost seven and a half minutes of mostly Bernstein dithering away, Tapper had to move on to his next panel. That’s not being a journalist; it’s playing the role of facilitator.
To read the relevant transcript from February 2's CNN Newsroom, click “expand”:
February 2, 2018
3:08 p.m. Eastern
JAKE TAPPER; Carl, first of all, your reaction to the release of this memo and the claims in it about potential abuses of FISA by the FBI in order to spy on a Trump campaign adviser?
CARL BERNSTEIN: We don't know enough because we haven't seen the whole, underlying picture, as the Democrats have pointed out, but there's a much more important historical point to be made here and that we may well have not seen such dark days for American democracy and its institutions since the days of Joe McCarthy and in the case of McCarthy, it was a senator, not the President of the United States, who was a demagogic authoritarian. What we are seeing here is a demagogic authoritarian President who is using this red herring to contend that there is a witch hunt going on when, in fact, there is a legitimate investigation into what the Russians did and whether or not the President of the United States and his cohort and aides and families may or may not have been involved in helping the Russians.
If, indeed, there is exonerating evidence there, the President of the United States ought to have enough confidence in our institutions, including inspectors general of the FBI, including Oversights Committee. There are plenty of times to go back and look at the investigators of the investigation. But right now, we need to know what the Russians did, whether or not the Trump organization, the President of the United States, his family and aides were involved in some way. On top of which, the overriding question that is so disspiriting and demoralizing is in the whole Cold War, the Russians were not able to do what Putin has done through Donald Trump, to destabilize the United States and its democratic institutions. It's stunning. It's ruinous.
Hopefully, the Republican Party, which has gone along with him in lockstep, will get hold of their senses and, remember, it's the Republican Party who was always toughest on the Russians and what they were doing. And if they cannot see how Donald Trump has been manipulated and how Donald Trump is using this to avoid legitimate investigation and to poison the are institutions of American democracy, then the Republican Party is taking us somewhere where we haven't been before and they were the heroes of Watergate because they were open to the truth.
TAPPER: Carl, one of the things that's interesting is that even if one is prepared to be open minded about the potential misdeed here that the FBI should have been more forthright with the FISA court about the fact that political opposition research against President Trump written by Christopher Steele and paid for by Fusion GPS through — conducted by Fusion GPS but paid for by Democrats in the Hillary Clinton campaign, even if you're willing to believe that possibly the FBI cooked the books and shouldn't have done what they did, this memo still acknowledges that before Carter Page started being spied on in October, at least that's when the FISA court application happened, in July of 2016, the George Papadopoulos counterintelligence investigation by the FBI began. And, as Pamela pointed out, Carter Page, prior to October 2016, had already been spied upon by the FBI because of his relations with Russians in 2013, 2014.
So already even according to this own memo, which is being used by the President's allies and President Trump to exonerate him, to undermine the Mueller investigation, this memo doesn't fully accomplish that if you look at some of the underlying facts here. A, Carter Page had already been spied upon for suspected contacts with Russians. B, this spying was just a few days before the election, so I don't know how it would have affected the election since James Comey, unlike the Hillary Clinton investigation, did not announce the Trump investigation and the third point, of course, that the George Papadopoulos investigation had started months before all your points are correct.
BERNSTEIN: All your points are correct. This is a disingenuous, partisan document. What we need to remember about applications for surveillance of America's before — Americans before the FISA courts are — is that there is usually information brought before those judges that comes from good people, bad people, reliable people, unreliable people, but that the whole point of getting the warrant is that there's some reason to believe, even if it were a partisan whistleblower or someone with an ax to grind, that doesn't negate the information underlying or the fact that it might be because, particularly with the other factors that you have mentioned — thus perhaps, and I believe is the case, some surveillance by other foreign powers in which Carter Page may have been is your — surveilled and picked up.
The idea that this is solely based on the Steele memo seems both spurious and even so, Christopher Steele was someone who would help the FBI break and the world police organizations break the conspiracy in the soccer leagues of the world through his skill. There was reason to believe that he had good sources. So, this is all a red herring by the President of the United States and his allies in congress, which is sort of unfathomable, if you think that the Republican Party is going to hitch its future to the kind of demagoguery, authoritarianism in what we're seeing here. It is very clear that Rod — that the President of the United States, that Donald Trump wants to get rid of this investigation, wants to get rid of Rod Rosenstein, wants to get rid of any legitimate inquiry into his conduct or even the conduct of the Russians, members of his family, members of his coterie, members of his business organizations. We are at a crossroads in this country that Watergate established the United States v. Nixon that no one in this country is above the law, including the President of the United States. Right now, we have the unprecedented situation of one of the major political parties essentially asserting and backing the President in showing and believing that he is above the law and that he can suppress legitimate investigation.
TAPPER: Carl Bernstein, thank you so much.