Carl Bernstein slams Trump-GOP attacks on FBI, DOJ as 'Monday night slaughter'

  • Prominent investigative journalist Carl Bernstein sounded an ominous warning about the Trump administration's moves to undermine the US Justice Department and the FBI amid the Russia investigation.
  • Bernstein said the US had reached "a turning point" at the end of a day that saw the resignation of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a Republican vote to release a controversial memo undermining the bureau and the DOJ, and the Trump administration's decision not to impose sanctions on Russia.
  • Bernstein called it the "Monday night slaughter of our institutions of justice in the United States."


Investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal in the 1970s that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, sounded an ominous alarm on Monday following a day of pivotal headlines related to the Russia investigation.

Bernstein said the US had reached "a turning point" at the end of a day that saw the resignation of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a Republican vote to release a controversial memo undermining the bureau and the DOJ, and the Trump administration's decision not to impose new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 US election.

"We are seeing a breakdown and I think we may look back on tonight as the Monday night slaughter of the administration of justice and our institutions of justice in the United States," Bernstein said in an interview on CNN.

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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
Newly installed acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe prepares to testify during the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing on 'World Wide Threats' on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe prepares to testify during the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing on 'World Wide Threats' on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MAY 11: From left, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, appear during a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing in Hart Building titled 'World Wide Threats' on May 11, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 11: Andrew McCabe, Acting Director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey, speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Worldwide Threats in Washington, USA on May 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MAY 11: A binder containing classified material marked Secret sits on the witness table in front of Andrew McCabe, Acting Director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey, before a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Worldwide Threats in Washington, United States on May 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: Federal Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Andrew McCabe arrives for a meeting with members of the Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees in the Rayburn House Office Building December 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. McCabe testified before the House Intelligence Committee for ten hours on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C) speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) and Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Andrew McCabe (R) during a press conference at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC, on July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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"A real slaughter by the obstructive, irresponsible, partisan gang in the House of Representatives that has put the interest of their party and the president of the United States and his personal fortunes above the national interest, and I think we're going to look back on what happened today and tonight as a turning point," Bernstein continued.

His use of the term "Monday night slaughter" is a spin on the phrase "Saturday night massacre" — the October 20, 1973, incident in which Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox amid Cox's investigation into the Watergate scandal. When Trump fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017, some observers called it the "Tuesday Afternoon Massacre."

Monday saw a whirlwind of activity linked to the broad investigation of Russia's 2016 US-election interference. An effort that US intelligence officials said was executed to help get Trump elected and hamstring his then-opponent Hillary Clinton.

Trump and his allies in Congress and right-leaning media have made no secret of their disdain for the Russia probe, and the latest developments on Monday cemented their collective angst. Bernstein said it represents a dire threat to the entire investigation.

"Donald Trump has done everything in his power — including working with these enablers on Capitol Hill — to make sure that this investigation of him, his family, his aides, his campaign, his transition does not come to fruition, and this was part and parcel of it tonight," Bernstein told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday night.

Bernstein said the totality of Trump and his allies' actions may be a precursor to a "constitutional crisis." Critics of Trump have used similar language to warn about various actions in the early aughts of his presidency. But Bernstein insisted that the administration's moves of late are real cause for alarm.

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Gary Cohn: Former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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"The system may fail us if the president continues down this road and if his enablers in Congress continue down this road," Bernstein said. "Donald Trump may get away with this, and by 'this,' I mean shutting down the legitimate investigation of the president of the United States."

He added: "The single thing that this president has been focused on from the day he took office is to make sure that the Mueller and the Russia investigation does not go forward. and he is doing everything in his power to see that that becomes the case."

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SEE ALSO: Trump administration declines to impose new sanctions on Russia hours after the Kremlin accused the US of meddling in its election

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