The veteran Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein has publicly named 21 Republican senators he says have “repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for [Donald] Trump and his fitness” for office.
As Trump continued to try to subvert the results of a presidential election he clearly lost to Joe Biden, Bernstein said on Twitter he was “not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially [sic]”.
His information, he said, came from “colleagues, staff members, lobbyists [and] White House aides”.
Then he named names.
They were: Rob Portman (Ohio), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Cornyn (Texas), John Thune (South Dakota), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Braun and Todd Young (Indiana), Tim Scott (South Carolina), Rick Scott and Marco Rubio (Florida), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Martha McSally (Arizona), Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts (Kansas) and Richard Shelby (Alabama).
The list contained senior Republican figures such as Thune, the majority whip; Rubio, acting chair of the intelligence committee; and Grassley, a former judiciary committee chair.
Some on Bernstein’s list, Sasse, Cornyn, Collins and Murkowski among them, have criticized Trump publicly. Romney, Rubio, Murkowski, Toomey and Collins have recognized Biden as president-elect.
Bernstein, 76, worked with Bob Woodward on the Washington Post’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.
Woodward’s coverage of Trump has produced two bestselling books, Fear and Rage, which have relied on unnamed sources highly critical of Trump – and, in the latter case, the president’s own on-record and highly damaging thoughts.
Speaking to CNN on Friday, Bernstein said: “Many, if not most, of these individuals, from what I have been told, were happy to see Donald Trump defeated in this election as long as the Senate could be controlled by the Republicans.”
That outcome now hinges on two run-off elections in Georgia, on 5 January.
A spokesman for Rick Scott told Forbes the list was “dumb and doesn’t warrant a real response. Needless to say, Carl Bernstein has no idea what he’s talking about.”
But Bernstein wrote that “with few exceptions”, the senators’ “craven public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct – including undermining and discrediting the US the electoral system”.