Veteran investigative journalist Carl Bernstein revealed the Republican senators he says have privately complained about President Trump.
The Watergate sleuth released a list that included 21 names in a trio of tweets on Sunday, one week after he appeared on CNN and called on journalists to consider unmasking the “dirty secret” of the upper chamber as Trump refuses to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden that he claims was “rigged” and declines to unlock transition resources for the Democrat’s incoming administration.
“I’m not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially [sic] in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump & his fitness to be POTUS,” he said, nearly three weeks after Election Day.
“The 21 GOP Senators who have privately expressed their disdain for Trump,” he said, are: Ohio’s Rob Portman, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, Missouri’s Roy Blunt, Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Texas’s John Cornyn, South Dakota’s John Thune, Utah’s Mitt Romney, Indiana’s Mike Braun, Indiana’s Todd Young, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, Florida’s Rick Scott, Florida’s Marco Rubio, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Arizona’s Martha McSally, Kansas’s Jerry Moran, Kansas’s Pat Roberts, and Alabama’s Richard Shelby.
“With few exceptions, their craven public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct—including undermining and discrediting the US the electoral system,” Bernstein finished.
The 21 GOP Senators who have privately expressed their disdain for Trump are: Portman, Alexander, Sasse, Blunt, Collins, Murkowski, Cornyn, Thune, Romney, Braun, Young, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Rubio, Grassley, Burr, Toomey, McSally, Moran, Roberts, Shelby. (2/3)
— Carl Bernstein (@carlbernstein)
November 23, 2020
The Washington Examiner reached out to the offices of all 21 senators for comment.
Not on the list were top members such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Bernstein, who exposed the Watergate scandal in the 1970s with Bob Woodward using anonymous sources while at the Washington Post, reasoned that Republicans are taking advantage of this system, most recently in talking about legal challenges surrounding the 2020 presidential election.
But with Trump refusing to admit defeat, Bernstein encouraged fellow journalists to come up with a new way to cover GOP senators to combat what he called a “cold civil war of untruth.”
“Perhaps half of the Republican members of the Senate despise and disdain Donald Trump. They were happy to see him lose as long as they could hold on to a Senate majority,” he said on CNN last Sunday. “It’s time that we start calling these senators out, perhaps by name, in terms of what they really believe, what they tell us as reporters on background.”
Bernstein was referring to what is known in the media business as citing a source “on background,” which is when a reporter can use the information given to them but not with the person’s name attached. Instead, there is an agreement to use a description of the person’s position, or, under “deep background,” without any attribution, to protect their identity.
“They have enabled part of this disinformation campaign, and even some of them are talking about a ‘coup’ that Donald Trump is trying to initiate here and hang in the office by challenging legislatures in the Electoral College, et cetera, et cetera,” he said. “They know what’s going on. They won’t speak out. The dirty secret is perhaps these Republicans in the Senate, and we have to figure out a new way to cover them and what they are really saying to each other.”
According to Bernstein, he did not violate any “on background” agreement with his list because he heard this information from other sources around these senators.
Some of the senators in Bernstein’s list have begun calling on Trump, who is waging legal fights and requesting recounts in key battleground states, to accept defeat or at least allow the formal transition process to begin. Among them are Toomey and Murkowski.
In a separate CNN interview, which he shared in the Twitter thread Sunday evening, Bernstein said he heard in the last 24 to 48 hours that McConnell and some others are “attempting to find a way to somehow bring the country off the ledge” as Trump hears “conspiracies” from close allies.
Biden is projected to have 306 electoral votes, 36 more than is needed to win the Electoral College, and so far leads Trump by about 6 million votes in the popular vote, according to the Associated Press. Trump, who needs to flip more than one state to pull off a victory, is running out of time as states certify their votes and the Electoral College meets in mid-December. Inauguration Day is Jan. 20.
The balance of power in the Senate remains uncertain for the 117th session of Congress. Republicans have won 50 seats in the 2020 election, but Democrats, along with two independents who caucus with them, could match the GOP with 50 if two January runoffs in Georgia lean their way. Split 50-50, Kamala Harris, as vice president, would be able to break any ties.