Watergate Reporter Carl Bernstein Says 'Authoritarian' Trump Has Plunged the U.S. into It's Darkest Days Since McCarthy With Memo Release

Carl Bernstein described Trump as an "authoritarian" screen grab CNN

Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein has said that America is living through its darkest days since Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist "witch hunts."

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Friday, Bernstein criticized Republican Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for the release of a memo allegedly showing partisan bias in the FBI investigation into the Trump camp's contact with Russia.

As some Republicans suggested the memo exposed a scandal at the heart of the FBI worse than Watergate, the reporter who was one of the duo who exposed the White House's involvement in the 1972 Watergate break-in, said it was Republicans who had got it wrong.

Bernstein called the memo a "disingenuous partisan document."

"We may well have not seen such dark days for American democracy and its institutions since the days of Joe McCarthy," Bernstein said, referring to the notorious anti-communist purges orchestrated by the Wisconsin Republican senator in the 1950s. "In the case of McCarthy, it was a senator, not the president of the United States, who was a demagogic authoritarian."

The GOP memo alleges that the request to begin surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page was based on material contained in the notorious dossier compiled about Trump by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The memo notes that Steele's efforts were funded in part by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and that a failure to mention this when obtaining the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) warrant is evidence of negligence or possible partisan bias.

The memo does not mention the role of a Republican mega-donor in funding the research.

Bernstein said that the memo is a "red herring," being used by the Trump administration to derail Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

"If indeed there is exonerating evidence there, the president ought to have enough faith in our institutions, including inspectors general, the FBI, oversight committees. Right now we need to know what the Russians did, whether or not the Trump organization was involved in some way," he said.

"In the whole Cold War, the Russians were not able to do what Putin has done through Donald Trump to destabilize the U.S. and its Democratic institutions."

He went on to say that he hopes the Republican Party "gets ahold of its senses."

"It was the Republican Party who was always toughest on the Russians. ... [Republicans] were the heroes of Watergate because they were open to the truth."