Famed investigative journalist Carl Bernstein has said that President Trump’s recorded call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, seemingly pressuring him to help overturn the state’s presidential election results, is ‘worse than Watergate.’
Bernstein, along with Bob Woodward, helped to break the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
During an interview on CNN Sunday, Berntein discussed the leaked recording of Trump’s call with Raffensperger – who, as Georgia’s secretary of State, also serves as the State Election Board chairman.
The journalist warned the recording was ‘worse than Watergate’ and claimed it revealed that the US president was a ‘criminal.’
Investigative journalist Carl Bernstein said the Trump tape seeking to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results is a ‘smoking gun’
‘We have both a criminal president of the United States in Donald Trump, and a subversive president of the United States,’ Bernstein said.
The Watergate scandal involved Republican Nixon’s administration’s efforts to cover up their involvement in the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, DC.
Audio of Trump’s hour-long Saturday phone call was published Sunday by the Washington Post, and captured Trump berating Raffensperger and Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, pleading they do anything they could to change the outcome of the election in their state.
Trump was heard telling the Republican officials: ‘So look. All I want to do is this – I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state. There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.’
Trump (pictured) was recorded in a call Saturday as he appealed to Georgia’s Secretary of State, asking him to find 11,780 votes so that the swing state would show Trump victory
This call, Bernstein said, ‘is the ultimate smoking gun tape. It is the tape with the evidence of what this president is willing to do to undermine the electoral system and illegally, improperly, and immorally try to instigate a coup.’
Bernstein added that: ‘In any other presidency, any other presidency, this tape would be evidence enough to result in the impeachment of the President of the United States and really, an immediate call by the members of Congress, including of his own party, that he resign immediately.’
Trump was heard talking about voter fraud during his call, making claims that Raffensperger repeatedly refuted by claiming that the president was relying on debunked theories.
Raffensperger, meanwhile, was heard asserting that Joe Biden’s 12,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.
At one point during the call, Trump appeared to make unspecified threats, saying Raffensperger and Ryan Germany – the Georgia secretary of state’s office lawyer – were taking a ‘big risk’ by not acting to overturn the results.
Trump seemed indicate that Raffensperger and Germany would be opened up to criminal liability if they failed to find that thousands of ballots cast in Fulton County had been illegally destroyed – despite no evidence supporting that allegation.
‘That’s a criminal offense,’ Trump said during the call. ‘And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.’
Bernstein categorized Trump’s ‘big risk’ statement as a ‘real threat, but not just for some general purpose, but for a very specific criminal purpose, for the secretary of state to come up with a certain number of votes, plus one, to deliver illegally an election to the President of the United States.’
Bernstein noted ‘we’ve never had a tape like this before, including the Nixon tapes.’
The Nixon tapes Bernstein referred to were a series of audio recordings secretly made between 1971 to 1973, which captured conversations held between Nixon, members of his administration, White House staffers and Nixon’s family members.
Only a handful of people – including Nixon – knew that their phone calls and conversations were being recorded in certain rooms in the White House, Camp David and the Old Executive Office Building, where Nixon had a private office.
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right in 1973) exposed President Nixon’s connection to the Watergate break in. Bernstein Sunday said the Trump tape was ‘worse than Watergate’
Bernstein (left, with former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, center, and Woodward, right) said the Trump tape is ‘the ultimate smoking gun’ and ‘evidence of what this president is willing to do to undermine the electoral system’
Among those tapes, which were subpoenaed during the investigation into the Watergate break in was the so-called ‘smoking gun’ tape recorded on June 23, 1972 – just six days after the break in.
The tape was a conversation Nixon had recorded, during which he and his chief of staff, HR Haldeman, discussed having administration officials tell the CIA and FBI to stop looking into the Watergate break in because it was a national security issue.
The discussion, special prosecutor Leon Jaworski believed, resulted in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice and once the tape was made public on August 5, 1974, it led to Nixon’s congressional support drying up.
After the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress, Nixon resigned from office on August 8, 1974.
Bernstein told CNN that he didn’t believe that he didn’t believe that most Senate or House Republicans would denounce Trump’s conduct during the Raffensperger call.
Instead, he said, Trump’s ‘craven’ allies would to ‘promulgate and continue this idea despite the evidence of upending a legal, proper election in which the evidence is clear, the results are clear.’
He went on to say that ‘This is fantasy. It’s not delusion because they know what they’re doing.’
Bernstein noted that the Republican Party’s failure to denounce Trump’s statements during the call could lead to ‘the end of the Republican Party as a constructive, decent force in our politics in this country.’
‘This is not some kind of forgivable act,’ Bernstein said. ‘This is not about two simple equal sides of an equation. There are no two sides to this question. This is about democracy, fundamental principles.
‘We have, for the first time, a president of the United States who has exceeded McCarthy’s authoritarianism, his disrespect for the constitution and rule of law, and the Republican party of our time – with [Mitch] McConnell’s leadership, with McCarthy’s leadership — has gone along with it to their disgrace.’
Reports of the Trump’s call with Raffensperger came after Trump tweeted Sunday morning vaguely of the conversation, claiming the Georgia Secretary of State ‘has no clue’ about what happened in the election.
‘I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia. He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!’ Trump posted.
He also tweeted, warning Republicans of potential election fraud in Georgia as two Senate runoffs commence to determine control of the upper chamber.
‘Republicans in Georgia must be careful of the political corruption in Fulton County, which is rampant. The Governor, @BrianKempGA, and his puppet Lt. Governor, @GeoffDuncanGA, have done less than nothing. They are a disgrace to the great people of Georgia!’ he tweeted in reference to the Republican governor.
Raffensberger responded in his own tweet, writing: ‘Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.’
A Georgia State Election Board member is now demanding, according to a Sunday report, that a probe be opened into President Donald Trump’s ‘threatening’ call with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
The sole Democrat on the five-person panel, David Worley, wrote in an email to Raffensperger – who, as Georgia’s secretary of State, serves as the State Election Board chairman – claiming an investigation is required.
‘To say that I am troubled by President Trump’s attempt to manipulate the votes of Georgians would be an understatement,’Worley, who is a Joe Biden supporter, wrote in the email, according to The New York Times.
He continued: ‘Once we have received your investigative report, it will be the board’s duty to determine whether probable cause exists to refer this matter.’
Worley says the probe would help determine if the call violated Georgia law, including a provision prohibiting any conspiracies to commit election fraud.
Legal experts say Trump broke Georgia law when he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ just enough votes to overturn Biden’s election victory in the southern swing state.
If the investigation request by Worley were to find the law had been broken, the Election Board officials says it could ask Georgia law enforcement authorities to consider filing criminal charges or a civil case against Trump.