“We are in the midst of a continued cover-up by the president, aided and abetted by the attorney general of the United States,” said longtime journalist Carl Bernstein yesterday, according to The Hill. Bernstein made the comments in an interview yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”, during which he also called Trump “the most authoritarian president in our history, probably”, according to The Hill, with that “probably” likely thrown in because Bernstein may think Nixon a contender for that ignoble distinction.
Bernstein became a household name in the 1970’s when he, along with fellow investigative reporter Bob Woodward, helped to uncover the Watergate scandal while the two worked at The Washington Post. Bernstein also contended in his interview yesterday that the bipartisan investigation of Trump has thus far been woefully insufficient, without indicating whether that is a dig at congressional Republicans, who have generally been completely uninterested in investigating Trump, or at Democrats for not yet doing enough, or perhaps both. According to The Hill:
“There has been no real bipartisan investigation of the most authoritarian president in our history, probably,” Bernstein, whose work at The Washington Post helped uncover the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “Right now, it’s obvious to anyone that watches, anyone who looks at the facts, reads the Mueller report, the obstruction part particularly, we are in the midst of a continued cover-up by the president, aided and abetted by the attorney general of the United States,” he said. …Bernstein said the evidence against Trump is “so overwhelming.” “This is no exoneration about his conduct, in terms of Russia and Russian contacts,” Bernstein said.
The Mueller report does not exonerate Trump on obstruction; in fact it specifically indicates that it does not exonerate him, giving evidence for 10 different times where Trump could be accused of obstructing Mueller’s investigation. The Mueller report did not give a determination on whether Trump should be charged with obstruction of justice because of a Justice Department guideline that indicates a sitting president cannot be charged for such offenses, so not because Trump was exonerated, but because Trump is the sitting president. It was Barr who then, before the report was even released, indicated in his summary of the report and in a press conference that there was insufficient evidence to charge Trump with obstruction, which is not what the Mueller report, released in redacted form weeks after Barr’s summary was made public, indicates. Barr did not make it clear that his findings were outside of the findings of the Mueller report and also did not make it clear that the decision not to charge Trump was because he is a sitting president, not because there was insufficient evidence. This spin by Barr has led people to question if Barr is more interested in protecting Trump than protecting justice.
Barr has also now joined Trump in further acts that may be viewed as obstruction by defying a congressional subpoena to produce a non-redacted version of the Mueller report, by encouraging Trump to exert executive privilege over the entirety of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence in order to get around that subpoena, and by refusing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month due to his objections to the format, particularly the prospect of his being questioned by staff attorneys, not just lawmakers. Trump for his part has continued to follow what appears to be a path of obstruction by telling current and former White House staff not to testify before Congress on these investigative and oversight issues, even if they are subpoenaed to do so, and by refusing to follow legal requests and even subpoenas for documents.