Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein has called out 21 Republican senators who he says have expressed 'extreme contempt' for President Trump in private - but have refused to air their grievances in public.
Bernstein accused the senators - including the likes of Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley and Susan Collins - of a 'craven silence' that has 'enabled Trump's most grievous conduct'.
That includes 'undermining and discrediting the US electoral system' Bernstein said, taking aim at Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden while claiming 'massive fraud' - a claim that his legal team has failed to substantiate in court.
'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,' Bernstein said during an appearance on CNN.
The tweet, which garnered 37,600 likes, read: 'I'm not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump and his fitness to be POTUS. (1/3)'
He continued: '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.
'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 is the the former Washington Post journalist who reported alongside Bob Woodward to expose the Watergate scandal which led to former President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974 before he could be impeached.
Speaking on CNN he said: 'Let me name 15 or so Republican senators and what I am doing is not violating journalistic principle because they have told me what I am about to say.
'But for two or three years I have talked to members of staff of the senators, members of committees, staff people, aides, assistants, people who have worked for these people - let's look at 15 or so of these Republican senators who really disdain and even despise Donald Trump, have said so to each other.'
It comes after Bernstein accused Donald Trump of creating 'the first grifter presidency' in US history after the New York Times lifted the lid on the president's years of alleged tax avoidance and extensive debt.
Bernstein called the bombshell Times report 'the smoking gun of a pervasively criminal presidency' in an interview with CNN.
'Donald Trump and his family are grifters,' he said. 'He has created the first grifter presidency in the history of the United States in which his purpose in running for the presidency and exercising the powers of the presidency - the fundamental reason is to bail himself and his family out.'
The Times report, based on nearly two decades' worth of Trump's tax returns, asserted that the president paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 - and zero federal income taxes in 10 of the 15 years prior - because he reported losing more money than he made.
Bernstein also publicly attacked the president on CNN last month.
On September 14 he slammed Trump as a 'homicidal president' and said he was hosting 'homicidal assemblies' with his indoor campaign rallies during the coronavirus pandemic.
'You're witnessing a homicidal president convening, purposefully, a homicidal assembly to help him get reelected instead of protecting the health and welfare of the United States, including supporters whose lives he is willing to sacrifice,' Bernstein told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
'Here is this president, who has staked part of his presidency on the right to life, particularly of the unborn, and every day he has sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans because he is unwilling to deal honestly, forthrightly, meaningfully, with the greatest domestic crisis in our post-war history in this country.
'Now we've seen in front of us, tonight, this homicidal assembly that the president of the United States has called his supporters to be sacrificial lambs. It's astonishing.'
Trump responded to that rebuke by calling Bernstein a 'total nut job'.
Donald Trump has refused to concede the November 3 election to Joe Biden - who won a majority of electoral college seats and the popular vote - alleging that there was 'massive voter fraud' in several states.
But his legal team - spearheaded by personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani - has yet to present any evidence of that in court instead relying on press conferences to make untested claims.
In the latest press conference, held Thursday last week, Giuliani appeared alongside former prosecutor Sidney Powell who alleged that a cabal of communist countries had conspired to steal the election from Trump.
Her 'evidence' was widely ridiculed, and on Sunday the Trump camp sought to distance themselves from her, saying she is 'not a member of the Trump Legal Team.'
Responding to her disavowing, Powell said in a statement to CBS News that she 'understands today's press release.'
'I will continue to represent #WeThePeople who had their votes for Trump and other Republicans stolen by massive fraud,' she continued.
'The chips will fall where they may, we will defend the foundations of this great Republic.'
It comes after a Pennsylvania judge shot down the Trump camp's lawsuit to try and overturn the result in the state, describing the suit as 'Frankenstein's monster'.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters.
In seeking such a 'startling outcome,' he said, a plaintiff could be expected to provide compelling legal arguments and 'factual proof of rampant corruption' - but 'That has not happened.'
The Trump campaign had sought to prevent state officials from certifying the results of the election in the state.
Brann described the case as 'strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.'
The judge said that he 'has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens.'
The lawsuit before Brann was filed on November 9 and had alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots.
Some counties notified voters that they could fix minor defects such as missing 'secrecy envelopes' while others did not.
'This claim, like Frankenstein's Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together,' wrote Brann.
The Trump campaign responded by issuing a statement blasting the 'Obama-appointed judge' while vowing to fight on all the way to the Supreme Court.
'Today's decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the US Supreme Court,' Trump campaign attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis wrote in their statement.
Brann, nominated by former President Barack Obama, is a Republican and, according to his biography, a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers, law students and scholars.
Meanwhile, in an apparent attempt at revenge on the GOP-controlled senate, Trump's attorney Lin Wood suggested his supporters should vote against the two Republican senators involved in run-off elections in Georgia.
Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will go back on the ballot in January after failing to secure more than 50 per cent during the November vote.
That vote will decide which party controls the Republican-led senate. If both races go to the Democrats, they will take control - gifting Joe Biden the first all-blue Congress since Bill Clinton in 1994.
'Politicians love votes & money (not necessarily in that order). Want to get @SenLoeffler & @sendavidperdue out of their basements to demand that action must be taken to fix steal of the 11/3 GA election? Threaten to withhold your votes & money. Demand that they represent you,' Wood tweeted on Sunday.
Perdue and Loeffler have remained silent on the issue of voter fraud and have instead been focusing on their upcoming elections.
Both incumbents are in extremely tight races with neither able to secure more than 50% of the vote during November's election.
The state of Georgie requires the winner to have at least 50% in order to win.
Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock in a January 5 runoff election - one of two races that will determine which party has control of the US Senate.
Sen Perdue is also facing a runoff in his race against Democrat Jon Ossoff in January.
Loeffler and Perdue have spent the past few weeks rallying support across the state, often at events together, as they seek to keep the Senate under Republican control.