Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein debunked President Donald Trump’s “no collusion” defense during a Friday appearance on CNN.
“This is huge in several ways. First of all, the substance of the indictment, which sweeping and goes to the case of what the Russians did,” Bernstein explained. “It’s very specific, very granular and very convincing, in a way that Donald Trump cannot dismiss this, nor can his acolytes.”
“Trump has been looking, even in the past week, I’m told by people in the White House, for ways to fire Mueller, bury this investigation and certainly as a first act, to get rid of [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein, which he has been complaining about for months and months,” Bernstein reported. “Here we have Rod Rosenstein going on national TV with perhaps the most significant announcement of the investigation yet and being a very responsible, convincing face, he’s just got himself an insurance policy in that job, one would think, as has the continuation of the Mueller investigation.”
“It is very hard for these Republicans who have gone along with this business of witch hunt to continue to do so after this,” Bernstein concluded.
“You say witch hunt. The Russian government used exactly that phrase as well, responding to this. That’s been a consistent response,” CNN host Jim Sciutto noted to the Watergate legend. “Can the president still…say to his supporters and others that the whole Russian investigation is an excuse by Democrats to make up for their loss?”
“He probably will. He has done it consistently. Remember, he is also playing to his base, his base is his insurance against something awful happening to him in the way of impeachment,” Bernstein suggested.
“Let’s be clear about this. The Republicans who have gone along with him on the hill are afraid of that base, they now have to start rethinking as a result of this, how long can they go along blindly with Donald Trump saying this is all a ruse,” Bernstein noted.
“Mueller is a straight shooter. If — I think we see from what Rosenstein said today — if there is exculpatory evidence about the President of the United States and he did not collude, I think Mueller is going to give it to us straight up and say it up front and so will Rosenstein,” Bernstein predicted.
“But the way this investigation is going, the idea of saying, quote, there is “no collusion” here — look, we are seeing evidence of a conspiracy,” Bernstein reminded.
“Who was witting, unwitting in that conspiracy, we don’t know yet. But Mueller’s indictments are pointing in a certain direction around people in the Trump orbit and family,” Bernstein concluded.