Donald Trump’s presidency is now more dangerous than that of Richard Nixon during Watergate, according to one of the reporters who uncovered the scandal that forced Mr Nixon to resign.
Carl Bernstein, who as a young Washington Post reporter helped link the then-US President to a burglary at Democratic Party offices, was speaking after Mr Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey – the man leading the investigation into alleged links between the Republican’s team and the Russian state.
That decision triggered a barrage of condemnation from commentators who accused the billionaire businessman of behaving like a dictator. Mr Trump initially claimed he was simply following the advice of the Justice Department and that Mr Comey “wasn’t doing a good job”.
He later admitted he would have made the move regardless of the advice he received and said it was linked to the FBI’s Russia investigation - which he dubbed "this Russia thing".
Mr Bernstein said the decision was part of a willful effort by Mr Trump to stop the public “knowing the facts” about his alleged links with Russia.
"I think this is a potentially more dangerous situation than Watergate and we're at a very dangerous moment”, the journalist told CNN.
"Because we are looking at the possibility that the President of the United States and those around him, during an election campaign, colluded with a hostile foreign power to undermine the basis of our democracy: free elections.
Mr Bernstein accused Mr Trump of “a cover-up” and impeding the investigation “at every turn”.
“We don’t know the facts but what we do know is that the President of the United States seems to be doing everything in his power to keep us from knowing the facts, including firing the director of the FBI because, says the President of the United States, of 'this Russia thing.'”, he said. “So the question of a cover-up seems to me to have been answered a while ago."
“There is a cover-up going on to keep us from knowing what happened here. Whether that means the President of the United States obstructed justice or not, or those around him did, we don’t know. But what we see is that at every turn this president is impeding the ability of those who were chosen to investigate to do so, including the House and Senate committees. So it’s a truly dangerous moment [and] it’s very different to Watergate.”
Many commentators have drawn comparisons between Mr Trump’s firing of Mr Comey and Mr Nixon’s decision, in 1973, to sack Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who had been tasked with investigating the burglary at the Watergate office complex that was eventually linked to the then US president.
Speaking to NBC last week about his decision, Mr Trump said: “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."
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