Carl Bernstein: Republicans 'Responsible' if They Don't 'Counter' Trump's 'Dereliction of Duty' After Woodward Tapes

Investigative journalist Carl Bernstein commented on the revelations about President Donald Trump brought to light by his former colleague Bob Woodward in his new book Rage, saying that Republicans will be "responsible" if they don't work to counter the president's "dereliction of duty."

Bernstein, whose reporting with Woodward led to crucial disclosures in the 1970s Watergate scandal, which led former President Richard Nixon to resign, made the remarks during a Wednesday interview with CNN. Woodward's book includes several taped interviews with Trump, in which the president admitted that he intentionally downplayed the coronavirus's threat to the American people and that he understood it was more deadly than the common flu, despite suggesting the opposite in public.

"It's up to Republicans especially to counter that lie," Bernstein told CNN. "At this point, if the Republican leadership—McConnell, McCarthy and others—try to contradict this obvious grave dereliction of duty by the president of the United States that is captured on tape, they too are responsible for what has happened here."

Bernstein described Trump's actions as "homicidal negligence."

"Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives because the president put his own re-election interest [first]," he said. "As we hear on the tapes and see throughout Bob's book that he is putting his own narrow presidential re-election efforts in front of the safety, health and well-being of the people of the United States."

Trump told Woodward in March that he "always" wanted to "play" down the threat from the pandemic. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic," he told the journalist.

When reached for comment, the White House referred Newsweek to public remarks made by press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

"The president never downplayed the virus," McEnany said on Wednesday, despite the taped recordings of Trump saying he "always" downplays it. "The president has never lied to the American public on COVID," she insisted.

Trump responded to questions from reporters on Wednesday, saying he may have downplayed the threat from the virus "in order to reduce panic." The president went on to describe himself as a "cheerleader for this country" who didn't want people to be "frightened."

Carl Bernstein
Carl Bernstein at the 2017 New Yorker Festival. This week he said President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak was "homicidal negligence." Brad Barket/Getty

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the nation's capital, also pointed fingers at Republicans in response to the Woodward revelations.

"You would think that the family, or Republicans, would have some kinds of intervention," Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC. "Clearly, the behavior of the president is not on the level." She added that many GOP lawmakers will have "doggie-doo on their shoes" for the rest of their lives because they enabled the president.

As of Thursday morning, well over 6.3 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus. Of those infected, more than 190,000 have died. The U.S. continues to be the country with the highest number of confirmed cases and the highest number of recorded deaths from the pandemic.