Days before bombshell reports that an FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump has acted as a Russian asset, Bernstein told a CNN panel that he believed one of the questions special counsel Robert Mueller was trying to answer was whether any obstruction by the president furthered the interests of the Russians.
Now the reporter of Watergate fame is indicating that he knows where the Mueller investigation is going to end up, and it’s not looking good for Trump.
“You teed up the point that the Washington Post and Times are now making,” CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter told Bernstein on Sunday’s episode of “Reliable Sources” before airing a clip from Wednesday.
“Bingo. You said the obstruction is not separate from the collusion question,” Stelter said after. “These investigations are linked. That’s exactly what these newspapers are signaling this weekend.”
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey in the spring of 2017. The counterintelligence inquiry was wrapped into the FBI’s broader Russia investigation, which Mueller was appointed to lead after Comey’s ouster. In a follow-up, the Washington Post reported the president took steps to try to protect his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including pressuring a translator to withhold information on discussions between the two leaders from administration officials.
Bernstein was asked how he knew ahead of time.
“First of all, the New York Times and the Washington Post were more advanced on this story than I was,” he began. “But I did know something.”
He said Trump’s “lies” are all about Russia and suggested lawyers working with the White House told him they believe he hasn’t told the truth on a number of matters related to Russia.
“Part of what I know comes from lawyers of some of the other defendants in this matter who have appeared before Mueller, including members of the joint defense team which collaborates with the White House, and those lawyers believe the president has been lying at every turn about his relationship with Russia,” Bernstein said. “Look, let us look at all of the lies, follow the money, follow the lies. They are all mostly and most vehemently about Russia. Whether we are talking about [Michael] Flynn, Trump, his son, [Jared] Kushner, back to lying about questions having to do with Russia, about what happened at the Trump Tower meeting. The president of the United States drafts a totally false statement about what happened at that meeting that his son was at.”
Bernstein also said he has been told that the draft of Mueller’s final report shows Trump helped Putin “destabilize” the U.S.
“Look, Trump keeps going back to the idea we need better relations with Russia. Could be. He could well be right,” Bernstein said. “But from a point of view of strength and what everybody can see is that he has not acted with Russia from the United States having a strength advantage with Russia. Rather, he has done what appears to be Putin’s goals. He has helped Putin destabilize the United States and interfere in the election, no matter whether it was purposeful or not, and that is part of what the draft of Mueller’s report, I’m told, is to be about.”
Trump’s top spokeswoman, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, called the Times report “absurd.” Asked about whether he has ever worked for the Russians during an interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro late Saturday, Trump said it was ” the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”
Bernstein, best known for his investigative reporting that shed light on the Watergate scandal leading to former President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, suggested that not even Nixon lied as much as Trump does. “Nixon lied to further the cover-up — he was a criminal president, but throughout his presidency Nixon did not lie about virtually everything of importance. … We have a president of the United States who lies.”