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‘Homicidal Negligence:’ Carl Bernstein Reacts to Recorded Conversations Between President Donald Trump and Bob Woodward

Carl Bernstein, who alongside Bob Woodword won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for breaking the Watergate story in 1972, delivered an empassioned response to recordings between Woodward President Donald Trump that were released on Wednesday.

The conversations are the primary source material featured in Woodward’s upcoming book, Rage, which is set for release on September 15.

Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Below is a full transcript of Bernstein’s remarks on Wednesday’s edition of CNN Newsroom:

It’s stunning and I think we all need to take a deep breath and understand exactly what it is we have learned. We are listening to the President of the United States, on tape, deliberately undermining the national security of the United States, the health and wellbeing of the people of the United States, and he’s doing this knowingly in real time. It is the smoking gun of his negligence, and as those quotes you were talking about from [former Defense Secretary James] Mattis and others demonstrating his unfitness to be president, but more than anything, instead of leveling with the country, he covers up. We listen to him cover up this grave national emergency. This is one of the great presidential felonies of all time, maybe the greatest presidential felony and we have the smoking gun tape of the president committing the felony.

Among the many astonishing excerpts was Trump admitting to Woodward was that Trump knew the coronavirus pandemic would be catastrophic but that he “wanted to always play it down” in order to prevent a panic.

The White House, of course, defended Trump. But the president’s own words are indisputable, and as CNN anchor Brianna Keilar noted, “there’s going be a fullout assault coming from the White House on what is in this book.”

Bernstein agreed, and put the onus on Republicans to take action:

Yes there will be, and it’s up to Republicans to counter that lie. At this point, if the Republican leadership – [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell, [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy, and others try to contradict this obvious grave dereliction of duty by the president of the United States that is captured on tape – they too are responsible for what has happened here.

He continued:

Look, let’s talk about what this really is. This is a kind of homicidal negligence – thousands and thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives because the president put his own reelection interests, as we hear in the tapes and see through Bob’s book, that he is putting his own narrow presidential reelection efforts in front of the safety, health, and wellbeing of the people of the United States. We’ve never had a president who’s done anything like this before. Six days, seven days after he was told about the gravity of this pandemic and its potential and the pathogens and what has been unleashed in the air, he had the State of the Union address, like Roosevelt would have done, like any other great American president, any other competent, concerned American president would have gone before the State of the Union and the Congress and said, ‘we have an enemy such as we have never seen and we have a national emergency and we must come together and fight.’

And instead, on tape, time after time after time, and through the narrative of Bob Woodward’s book, we see the president put his narrow, own selfish interests ahead of the health of the people of this country, their safety; it is a dereliction of duty recorded as no other presidential derelection of duty has been, even moreso than the Nixon tapes in this instance. So it’s gonna be very hard to see how this cannot be addressed by Republicans in particular and their candidate for president of the United States.

The last time this happened during the end of Nixon’s presidency, the Republican leadership, including Barry Goldwater, the 1964 nominee of his party for president, went to the White House and told Nixon he had to resign, and the facts here are even graver than in Watergate.

Bernstein also commented on insults Trump spewed about fallen American troops, having called them “losers” and “suckers” as reported by The Atlantic last week, as well as a blurb from Woodward’s book quoting Trump saying: “My f*cking generals are a bunch of p*ssies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.”

Keiler pressed Bernstein on potential “fallout” of Trump undermining and trashing military leadership.

His response:

Bob Woodward’s book is the definitive account of Donald Trump’s negligent presidency, and the negligence of how he views the military leaders in this country. What we saw in The Atlantic and what we see in Bob’s book combined is once again the big lie is Donald Trump and the conman front that he has put on throughout his life, and through his presidency. Page after page after page, on tape after tape after tape, there’s more than 20 hours of tape that Bob has gotten here that can be listened to, and what you hear time and time again is the president forgetting about the national interest, selling out the national interest, minimizing the national interest, and putting in his own interests, that of his family, that of his own finances, everything but the sake of the country itself and the wellbeing of its people and its institutions.

Trump has “undermined our wellbeing,” Bernstein said. “That is the text of this book, not its subtext. It is the text of those tapes, undermining our wellbeing – deliberately – for his own end. It is stunning, and as I say, a presidential felony unlike any other that we know of in our history.”

It is “up to us in the press,” Bernstein concluded, “to start putting this into the context of history as well, and calling in the historians, and calling in the Republicans, and saying, ‘well what about this, what happened here? What did this president do that has captured on these tapes that is even more devastating than Nixon’s tapes?'”



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