Former CBS anchor and news veteran Dan Rather told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow late Wednesday night that President Donald Trump is no longer the hunter, but the hunted.
Rather took aim at the president and seemed to infer pending disaster for Trump’s presidency, saying that the president is on the defensive.
“What a news night,” Rather said, referencing the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia-Trump investigation. “It’s almost surreal, and dangerous to the country, but in the same token, I do think that there’s something reassuring about this.”
Rather continued, “Most of the early stages of the Trump presidency, the question begged, ‘Are we still a country of laws?’ or have we become — are we becoming — a question of men. And a man.”
“And today’s events, with the appointment of this special counsel — special prosecutor — gives a resounding answer,” Rather noted. “We’re still a nation of the laws, not of men. And now, facts are going to tell us what our destiny is and what our history will be — not Donald Trump’s version of a thing.”
Addressing the multiple “leaks” to the media by staff purportedly within the White House and in Trump’s own administration, Rather tackled the media’s coverage of Trump’s actions and expressed his gratitude for the American press.
“These Times stories are big stories. Thank God for the American press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, [and] others who have been doing a terrific job,” he said.
Continuing to speak about the media, Rather declared “this is the day” that Trump no longer has the upper hand.
“Up until today, President Trump has had the ability to control almost every news cycle,” Rather explained. “From this day forward, he no longer has control. And, instead, if you will, of being the hunter, he becomes the hunted. And, I think, you know, that’s extremely important to keep in mind: from here on out … he can’t control it.”
Taking a brief pause during his monologue, he asked Maddow her theory about Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“Also, I have this question, Rachel,” Rather began. “Maybe you’ve asked it before, you know that meeting with the Russians, in which they didn’t allow any American photographers — only allowed Russian photographers — and there’s some controversy of what the president said or didn’t say, question: Were the Russians taping that? Were they taping it? It is True [Russian President Vladimir] Putin said he’ll give us a transcript … but if there’s a tape, let’s have it. And speaking of tapes, now with Donald Trump, since he’s on the defensive, it’s ‘put up or shut up’ time for him on the tapes he has alluded to about his conversation with the [former] FBI Director [James Comey]. Either he has tapes or he doesn’t, and if he has them, he’s got to come forward with them.”
Maddow was in agreement with Rather’s “put up or shut up” assessment, and noted that she’d spoken with former Solicitor General Neil Katyal earlier in the evening, who said that Trump could feasibly fire Robert Mueller — the former FBI Director acting as special prosecutor in the Russia-Trump investigation. Paraphrasing Katyal, Maddow said that Trump’s firing of Mueller would “lead to the fall of the government.”
“What do you think would happen if Trump went that far?” Maddow asked Rather.
He responded, “It depends on when it happens. If it happens very soon, I think he might very well get away with it, and here’s why: Out there in the country … in that part of the country that voted heaviest for Donald Trump, all these conversations we’re having — all this television coverage — up to today really hasn’t penetrated much, made much difference. And I would say this: If Donald Trump’s core support stays at, say, 38, 40%, then he might very well be able to fire special counsel. … He has that power. But if Trump’s poll ratings — and this is arbitrary on my part — if his poll ratings go to 30 or below, no. Because the public reaction would be so strong. Bottom line? If he does it in the next two, three weeks, which I do not expect, he could probably survive it for at least awhile longer.”
“But make no mistake,” Rather warned. “In many ways, the dam broke today. Tomorrow morning is different than any morning we’ve had so far in the Trump presidency.”