CNN’s Bernstein Unspools Hyperbole: Sessions Firing Was ‘A Coup’ by ‘A Rageholic’ Trump

For all of the characters that make up the Jeffrey Zucker-led circus at CNN, perhaps no one speaks in hyperbole more than longtime liberal journalist and CNN analyst Carl Bernstein. In separate appearances Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Bernstein reacted to the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by calling it a “coup” by “a rageaholic President...who has no understanding of the importance and primacy and rule of law in our system.”

First on AC360, Bernstein told Anderson Cooper that “what we saw today, is a kind of coup against the rule of law, a kind of action that you see in a tin-pot dictatorship in which now we have the President of the United States who, clearly from the beginning, has been trying to shut down, bury the Mueller investigation.”

 

 

Bernstein added that the removal of a man (despised by the left) was “anti-democratic in the sense, lower case ‘d’ in the sense that we now have a President of the United States who is willing to totally undermine the system of justice in this country for his own ends.”

He added that Matt Whitaker’s appointment as acting Attorney General meant “the fox” will be guarding “the henhouse” to give Trump “a full picture of what is going on in this investigation, which are the crown jewels in terms of what he does to extricate himself from terrible, terrible legal problems for himself and his family,” which could be thwarted if Congress grows a “backbone.”

The next day in the 3:00 p.m. Eastern of CNN Newsroom, host Brooke Baldwin asked if “the second best thing that the President could do to clamp down on this investigation” was to fire Sessions besides “firing Mueller.”

Bernstein responded that Sessions being fired could “be even better from the President's point of view because it's within the scope of his legal authority, even though what it really represents is a coup by the President of the United States and administration of justice and rule of law in the United States.”

“It is a presidential coup against the fair administration of justice and he's done it in such a way that, sure he has the authority to appoint anybody in the executive branch, but the purpose of this appointment is to undermine the special counsel's investigation, to bury it, to manipulate it, to make sure that he controls it, and that he does not have the authority to do under our constitutional system,” he continued.

When Baldwin again gave him the chance to speak, Bernstein painted a scene of a country on the verge of descending into chaos like it's in the Third World (click “expand”):

What we need to be concerned about is a rageaholic President that we saw that we saw yesterday out of control who has no understanding of the importance and primacy and rule of law in our system and when that is obliterated by a President of the United States, which is what is happening now, our system of government is undermined and obliterated...[T]he fact that Republicans have not gotten up in arms about this earlier and — look, Trump has made no secret whatsoever that he wants to bury the Mueller investigation....We are watching a President whose back is to the wall trying to earn himself a get out of jail pass, figuratively speaking, not literally, by manipulating the system of justice in the United States in a way that goes far farther than Nixon did in Watergate and the complicit people with him in this are the Republicans who are not standing up and saying: “Mr. President, we cannot have this. We join with the Democrats in Congress right now to pass some resolutions that guarantees the integrity of this investigation by Mr. Mueller.”

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s AC360 on November 7, click “expand.”

CNN’s AC360
November 7, 2018
8:08 p.m. Eastern

CARL BERNSTEIN: Carl Bernstein, how do you see this? I mean, this has been talked about now for quite a while, the idea of Jeff Sessions — you know, the President has been making fun of Jeff Sessions publicly, privately. It's no surprise that he got rid of Jeff Sessions. Did you expect Rosenstein, though, to step up into the role? 

CARL BERNSTEIN: I think Rosenstein has been surpassed by Whitaker's appointment unless Whitaker recuses himself, but more important, what we saw today, is a kind of coup against the rule of law, a kind of action that you see in a tin pot dictatorship in which now we have the President of the United States who, clearly from the beginning, has been trying to shut down, bury the Mueller investigation. He is on the road to doing it. He has done it today after the election under the cover of night as it were and this is anti-democratic in the sense, lower case “d” in the sense that we now have a President of the United States who is willing to totally undermine the system of justice in this country for his own ends. 

(....)

8:13 p.m. Eastern

JEFFREY TOOBIN: You know, the question — I mean, that would raise the question of whether the House of Representatives moves to impeach him. Certainly, Nancy Pelosi does not want to have that fight because that was a loser in 1998, but if they fire Mueller, that's the fight they may have. 

BERNSTEIN: Not only can he end the investigation, and he has the legal power to do it if he's going to exercise it through this — this appointment, we all know that what has driven Donald Trump the craziest and angered him more than any other thing about Mueller’s investigation is that he does not know what Mueller is doing. He has no roadmap that his lawyers have been able to provide him of what it is that Mueller knows and where Mueller is going. It's one of the reasons he fired Comey is because Comey was not sufficiently forthcoming to give him a look at what was going on in the investigation and this is truly the, you know, the fox at the henhouse, that he now has the ability through Whitaker to get a full picture of what is going on in this investigation, which are the crown jewels in terms of what he does to extricate himself from terrible, terrible legal problems for himself and his family and in itself and in itself it is a kind of — it is an obstruction of justice and we're going to see if some people in the Congress of the United States have enough backbone to say we must have the rule of law prevail here.

To see the relevant transcript from November 8's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
November 8, 2018
3:39 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: Alright, just shy of firing Mueller, is this the second best thing that the president could do to clamp down on this investigation? 

CARL BERNSTEIN: It might be even better from the President's point of view

BALDWIN: Why?

BERNSTEIN: — because it's within the scope of his legal authority, even though what it really represents is a coup by the President of the United States and administration of justice and rule of law in the United States. It is a presidential coup against the fair administration of justice and he's done it in such a way that, sure he has the authority to appoint anybody in the executive branch, but the purpose of this appointment is to undermine the special counsel's investigation, to bury it, to manipulate it, to make sure that he controls it, and that he does not have the authority to do under our constitutional system. 

(....)

3:41 p.m. Eastern

BERNSTEIN: What we need to be concerned about is a rageaholic President that we saw that we saw yesterday out of control who has no understanding of the importance and primacy and rule of law in our system and when that is obliterated by a President of the United States, which is what is happening now, our system of government is undermined and obliterated. In Watergate, we had the precedent that no one in this country is above the rule of law, including the President and when Nixon tried something like this, the response of the Congress of the United States was to have a unanimous vote by the Senate, 77-0, to convene a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Watergate Committee that of course led to the President's resignation because good Republicans understood the violence done to the Constitution and to our country 

BALDWIN: What about Republicans now?

BERNSTEIN: — by what Nixon had done and the fact that Republicans have not gotten up in arms about this earlier and — look, Trump has made no secret whatsoever that he wants to bury the Mueller investigation. If he is as innocent of all of these things as he maintains, no collusion, no obstruction, he should welcome this investigation. We are watching a President whose back is to the wall trying to earn himself a get out of jail pass, figuratively speaking, not literally, by manipulating the system of justice in the United States in a way that goes far farther than Nixon did in Watergate and the complicit people with him in this are the Republicans who are not standing up and saying: “Mr. President, we cannot have this. We join with the Democrats in Congress right now to pass some resolutions that guarantees the integrity of this investigation by Mr. Mueller.”


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NBDaily Congress Trump-Russia probe CNN Anderson Cooper 360 CNN Newsroom Video Government & Press Jeff Sessions Brooke Baldwin Carl Bernstein Donald Trump Matt Whitaker
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