Carl Bernstein, the journalist who helped expose the Watergate scandal that toppled former President Richard Nixon's administration in the 1970s, has asserted that U.S. government officials and Republican lawmakers no longer have confidence in President Donald Trump following his reaction to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Aug. 15, Bernstein took to social media to assert that Trump's support within the government was crumbling.
"Important Republicans/conservs/Intel-military hi-ups increasingly saying in private that [Trump] is unfit to be president," Bernstein tweeted. "[Because] of lack of ethics, competence, 'temperament/stability.'"
The veteran journalist urged reporters to "find out how pervasive such talk may be."
On Aug. 16, Bernstein elaborated on his assertion during an interview with CNN.
"There's considerable evidence that there's a consensus developing in the military, at the highest levels, in the intelligence community, among Republicans in Congress, including the leaders in the business community that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is unfit to be the president of the United States," Bernstein said.
The Watergate reporter did not cite any specific comments or sources to back up his claim, but asserted that the president was becoming increasingly isolated.
"Trump is under siege ... I think there's a sense among military, congressional, business leaders that he's in a kind of freefall, and he may not have many parachutes left except for his base to land safely, and that's awful thin cushion," Bernstein continued.
Bernstein accused Trump of losing his moral authority after his comments on the Charlottesville rally.
On Aug. 15, Trump asserted that white nationalists and anti-racist protesters were equally culpable in the violence at the rally.
"I do think there's blame on both sides ... you also had people that were very fine people on both sides," the president said, according to CNBC. One person was killed and more than 19 were injured when a white nationalist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters on Aug. 12.
Bernstein asserted that military and business leaders were upset with Trump's statement and that the president's "moral authority is gone with these constituencies that are essential for him to govern."
The Watergate reporter added that Trump "knows the peril of where he's in, because he is cognizant of what he is facing, that he now knows that things are closing in on him."
One White House aide who requested anonymity asserted that Trump made his controversial comments about Charlottesville because he was allegedly angered by criticisms that he had not done enough to condemn white supremacy.
"In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” the adviser told Politico. "This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting."