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Mr Bernstein, who did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal that eventually led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon, spoke with Brian Stelter on CNN on Sunday.
“When you’re talking about Trump you’re obviously talking about a kind of delusional madness … that is on a scale and a scope that we have never experienced in an American president in our history,” he said.
Mr Bernstein continued: “I think we need to calmly step back and maybe look at Trump in a different context. He is … our own American war criminal of a kind we’ve never experienced before.”
The host of Reliable Sources then quickly asked Mr Bernstein to explain what he meant by the accusation, and the reporter went on to list aspects of Mr Trump’s presidency that he believes are “criminal”.
“I think when we’re talking about Trump’s crime as an American war criminal in his own country that he has perpetrated upon our people,” he explained.
Mr Bernstein went on to reference the pandemic, saying “tens of thousands of people” died “because of his homicidal negligence”.
The reporter accused the former president of putting his own electoral interest above the health of Americans “as they were slaughtered” by the novel virus.
He also made reference to Mr Trump’s attempts to undermine the 2020 election and the 6 January riots, mentioning his “actions in terms of fermenting a coo to hold on to office”.
The Watergate reporter has been a vocal critic of the former president over the last year, having called him a “homicidal president” amid Mr Trump’s 2020 presidential election campaign.
At the time, in response to the comments, Mr Trump called Mr Bernstein “a nut job”, saying that he “has been a nut job for many years”.
At an event in Arizona over the weekend, the former president once again reiterated his baseless claims of election fraud in a bid to insert himself into an Arizona audit.
A number of officials have ruled there is no evidence there was any serious fraud in the 2020 election despite a host of lawsuits from Mr Trump’s team.
“Trump is not just political he transcends the political and we need to start looking at his crimes in that context,” Mr Bernstein said on Sunday.
The Independent has contacted the Office of Donald J Trump for comment.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press