Dan Rather: Trump's Russia Scandal Could Rival Watergate

“Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”

The apparent coziness between the Trump administration and the Russian government could be the nation’s biggest scandal since Watergate, legendary TV journalist Dan Rather warned Tuesday.

“Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now,” Rather wrote in a Facebook message that quickly went viral. 

“On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9,” added Rather, who won acclaim for his coverage of Watergate as a White House correspondent. “This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour.”

Rather’s analysis was a response to the resignation of President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Mike Flynn, late Monday and the questions it has raised about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. 

Flynn resigned after a series of reports revealed he had not been honest when he denied discussing sanctions on a December phone call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. The Washington Post on Monday, in an article that prompted his resignation, reported that then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates had informed the White House weeks ago that Flynn had not been honest to senior administration officials about his conversation with the Russian ambassador and may have made himself vulnerable to extortion by the Russian government.

The disclosures provide fodder for Trump critics like Rather, who are concerned that the new administration is too chummy with the Russian government to properly advocate for American interests. U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russia ordered the hacking of Democratic campaign emails with the goal of electing Trump last year. As president, Trump has refused to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin and indicated that he would like to mend relations with the country.

On Tuesday, Rather was one of many journalists asking how long Trump had known about Flynn’s deception and why he did not act sooner. 

“We are still less than a month into the Trump Presidency, and many are asking that question made famous by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker those many years ago: ‘What did the President know, and when did he know it?’” Rather wrote, quoting Baker’s question about President Richard Nixon during the Senate’s investigation of the 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building.

Broadcast journalist Dan Rather has developed a new following on Facebook thanks to his writings about the Trump presidency.
Keith Bedford / Reuters

Trump did not discipline Flynn sooner because he wanted to give the retired lieutenant general “due process” and the White House counsel maintained that Flynn had not violated the law, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. Trump ultimately demanded Flynn’s resignation over Flynn’s denial to Vice President Mike Pence that he had discussed sanctions on the call, which led Pence to repeat the lie on television, according to Spicer.

Rather called for an independent investigation of the matter, arguing that the administration and the Republican Congress have forfeited their right to be trusted on these matters.

“Damn the lies, full throttle forward on the truth,” he concluded.

Rather, best known for serving as host of “CBS Evening News” from 1981 to 2005, has developed a large and devoted Facebook following for his ominous screeds about the dangers of the Trump presidency. Rather also hosts an interview show on cable channel AXS TV.

Trump's First 100 Days
(01 of 53)
Post the traditional inaugural tea and coffee reception, President Donald Trump looks out of the Red Room window onto the South Portico of the White House grounds on Friday, Jan. 20 2017 prior to departing the White House for the Presidential Inaugural ceremony. (credit: Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo)
(02 of 53)
President Donald Trump raises his fist to the crowds during the 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration after he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2017. (credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(03 of 53)
Attendees line the Mall as they watch ceremonies to swear in Donald Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017. (credit: Pool via Getty Images)
(04 of 53)
Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the Women's march on January 21, 2017. (credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS via Getty Images)
(05 of 53)
People take a photo as City Hall is bathed lighted in pink after thousands of people marched to protest President Donald Trump and to show support for women's rights in San Francisco on January 21, 2017. (credit: JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images)
(06 of 53)
A woman wears a US flag like a hijab during a protest of US Democrats Abroad in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on January 21, 2017, one day after the inauguration of the US President. (credit: GREGOR FISCHER via Getty Images)
(07 of 53)
A view of demonstrators marching on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: Noam Galai via Getty Images)
(08 of 53)
President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. Trump on Monday signed three orders on withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, freezing the hiring of federal workers and hitting foreign NGOs that help with abortion. (credit: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
(09 of 53)
President Donald Trump takes the cap off a pen to sign an executive order to start the Mexico border wall project at the Department of Homeland Security facility in Washington, DC, on January 25, 2017. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(10 of 53)
President Donald Trump salutes as he steps off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland upon his return from Philadelphia on January 26, 2017. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(11 of 53)
President Donald Trump seen through an Oval Office window gives a thumbs up as he speaks on the phone to King Salman of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House on January 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images)
(12 of 53)
Demonstrators protest against US President Donald Trump and his administration's ban of travelers from 7 countries by Executive Order, during a rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2017. Trump's executive order suspended the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely -- and bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. (credit: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
(13 of 53)
Judge Neil Gorsuch (R) speaks with US President Donald Trump after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2017. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images)
(14 of 53)
President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka walk to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2017. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(15 of 53)
US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Rex Tillerson (L) as Tillerson's wife Renda St. Clair look on after Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2017. President Trump notched a victory with confirmation of Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, but opposition Democrats girded for battle over several other nominations, including his pick for the US Supreme Court. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(16 of 53)
President Donald Trump jokes with reporters after greeting Harley Davidson executives and union representatives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2017 prior to a luncheon with them. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(17 of 53)
A boy looks up as demonstrators pray while participating in a protest by the Yemeni community against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., February 2, 2017. (credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)
(18 of 53)
President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to journalists who are members of the White house travel pool on board Air Force One during his flight to Palm Beach, Florida while over South Carolina, U.S., February 3, 2017. (credit: Carlos Barria / Reuters)
(19 of 53)
Syrian refugee Baraa Haj Khalaf (L) kisses her father Khaled as her mother Fattoum (R) cries after arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. February 7, 2017. (credit: Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters)
(20 of 53)
Betsy DeVos waits to be sworn-in as U.S. Education Secretary at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2017. (credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
(21 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Jeff Sessions (L) as U.S. Attorney General while his wife Mary Sessions holds the Bible in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 9, 2017. (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(22 of 53)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Jim Bourg / Reuters)
(23 of 53)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen in the Presidential Limousine as they depart from Trump International Golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017, in this photo taken by Kyodo. (credit: KYODO Kyodo / Reuters)
(24 of 53)
An activist writes the word 'Racism' on a mock wall during an anti-Trump march in Mexico City, on February 12, 2017. Mexicans took to the streets against US President Donald Trump, hitting back at his anti-Mexican rhetoric and vows to make the country pay for his 'big, beautiful' border wall. / AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) (credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT via Getty Images)
(25 of 53)
Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor for policy, from left, General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, and Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, listen during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, not pictured, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Amid talk in the U.S. of resetting trade relationships, Trump and Trudeau said both countries are committed to maintaining trade ties and economic integration that support millions of jobs on both sides of the border. (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(26 of 53)
President Donald Trump speaks to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after signing House Joint Resolution 41, which removes some Dodd-Frank regulations on oil and gas companies, during a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2017. (credit: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
(27 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and first lady Melania Trump (L) greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara as they arrive at the South Portico of the White House in Washington on February 15, 2017. (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(28 of 53)
President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters during a lengthy news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 16, 2017. (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(29 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump applauds his crowd as he holds a "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida on February 18, 2017. (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(30 of 53)
A demonstrator protesting U.S. President Donald Trump holds a sign outside Trump International Hotel & Tower during the President's Day holiday February 20, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (credit: JOSHUA LOTT via Getty Images)
(31 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on February 20, 2017. (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(32 of 53)
Local and national media report on more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, on February 21, 2017. (credit: Tom Gannam / Reuters)
(33 of 53)
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (L) checks her phone after taking a photo as US President Donald Trump and leaders of historically black universities and colleges pose for a group photo in the Oval Office of the White House before a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images)
(34 of 53)
President Donald Trump holds up a pen after signing the HBCU executive order in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, DC on Feb. 28, 2017. (credit: Yuri Gripas / Reuters)
(35 of 53)
U.S. President Trump addresses Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
(36 of 53)
President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the address to Congress on Tuesday February 28, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol. (credit: Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo)
(37 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump tours the pre-commissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding facilities in Newport News, Virginia, U.S. March 2, 2017. (credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
(38 of 53)
Counter-demonstrators (L) and supporters (R) of U.S. President Donald Trump fight for a U.S. flag during a "People 4 Trump" rally in Berkeley, California March 4, 2017. (credit: Stephen Lam / Reuters)
(39 of 53)
US President Donald Trump, son Barron and wife Melania step off Air Force One upon arrival at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 17, 2017. T (credit: MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images)
(40 of 53)
US President Donald Trump attends a meeting about healthcare in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 13, 2017. (credit: NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images)
(41 of 53)
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. (credit: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
(42 of 53)
FBI Director James Comey (L) and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers take their seats at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. (credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
(43 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he sits on a truck while he welcomes truckers and CEOs to attend a meeting regarding healthcare at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. (credit: Carlos Barria / Reuters)
(44 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote, accompanied by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) and Vice President Mike Pence, in Washington, U.S. March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Carlos Barria / Reuters)
(45 of 53)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with women small business owners in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, March. 27, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) (credit: The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(46 of 53)
Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy DJ Gribbin (L) holds up a chart showing the regulatory steps to build a highway as U.S. President Donald Trump holds the mic during a CEO town hall on the American business climate at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(47 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Jordan's King Abdullah II leave after a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Yuri Gripas / Reuters)
(48 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Carlos Barria / Reuters)
(49 of 53)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Judge Neil Gorsuch (L) takes the judicial oath as President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Gorsuch, 49, was sworn in as the 113th Associate Justice in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (credit: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
(50 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and First Lady Melania, right, blow a whistle to start the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 17, 2017. Trump and First Lady Melania presided over their first Easter Egg Roll, a 139-year-old White House tradition. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(51 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a baby upon his arrival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
(52 of 53)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony where he honored the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots for their Super Bowl LI victory on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) (credit: The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(53 of 53)
U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, April 21, 2017. The tax code became too expensive and burdensome under former President Barack Obama's administration, making a review of 2016 and 2017 tax rules necessary, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
View Comments