Veteran Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein gave a blistering rebuke to Donald Trump’s “congressional cult” of enablers in his response to the second impeachment of the president.
Speaking on CNN, Mr Bernstein described the president as “delusional” and “the most dangerous president in our history”.
Asked by Anderson Cooper how the US moves forward as a nation when so many millions still believe Mr Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen, Mr Bernstein was unequivocal: “This is the crime of his Republican enablers.”
Citing the nearly 200 House Republicans who refused to vote for obviously impeachable offences, Mr Bernstein compared the situation to that of President Richard Nixon during Watergate.
As articles of impeachment were prepared, Nixon was told that he could only count as a few as 50 votes from his own party — not 200 — leading him to resign. Mr Trump is not being constrained in the same way.
The president knows he still has the support of a large proportion of his party, even just a week after rioters loyal to the president were encouraged to storm the Capitol, threatening violence against lawmakers and to hang Vice President Mike Pence.
“His irrational, illegal, seditious conduct has been enabled by his Republican congressional cult, and there have been no restraints placed on him by that cult,” says Mr Bernstein.
With less than a week to go before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Mr Bernstein said: “It’s imperative that [Trump] be restrained in a constitutional straitjacket for the next few days.”
Mr Bernstein added that he thinks that the people around Trump are doing that, especially the military who will not go along with orders that they deem to be potentially “calamitous”.
“He’s the gravest danger to the national security of the United States than any president has ever been,” he said. “You can’t say that about Nixon.”
Mr Bernstein and fellow journalist Bob Woodward famously did much of the initial reporting around the Watergate Scandal. Their work triggered investigations that culminated with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.