"History is going to punish Donald Trump for this decision," Dan Rather told Lawrence O'Donnell last night about Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Rather, who has observed presidents for decades now, didn't mince words. He said Trump is "enraged, scared, the Russian narrative is closing in on him," and said his decision wasn't grounded in anything other than his need to cultivate his base.
He called it "a very ominous moment."
"Depending how far President Trump can go and how effective he may be the rest of the way, this can make the United States second tier in terms of world leadership, at least on this subject," he said.
He said the only winners in this decision are Russia, Saudi Arabia, China -- and Steve Bannon.
"But I do think, Lawrence, it's something else at work here with President Trump. And William Marshall wrote some of this on the internet today. And that is from the outside looking in, it seems clear that he is mad.
"He has some rage. He is scared. What did he do with Russia narrative is closing in on him? Still, the investigation is about his tax returns are closing in on him. He just came back from this European trip, and he was angry with the leader of Germany, Ms. Merkel, and the new leader of France.
"What you have here is a president who is lashing out in anger. We haven't had a president this psychologically troubled -- I'm trying to use my language real carefully. We haven't had a president this psychologically troubled in this way since at least Richard Nixon," he said.
He said history "is going to punish Donald Trump for this decision. and the question is how much will it punish our own country."
Jabbing Trump's need to play to his base, Rather said Trump "may well as be showing up in the Oval Office in spats and saying he is going to increase the manufacture of buggy whips."
O'Donnell compared the current atmosphere to Watergate. "It had a rhythm to it. There was a news rhythm to it, the way the stories broke. The rhythm to this seems much faster, the New York Times and the Washington Post breaking stories by the hour, by the day. This story has changed dramatically every day.:
Rather reminded him that Watergate didn't come to a climax until Nixon's second term, and we're still early in the Trump presidency.
He talked about the White House stating that the president is "irritated and bewildered."
"I think he is beginning to realize he is in over his head," Rather said. "He became very confident as a business leader. But being president is not just being a CEO.
"When we talk about President Trump being irritated, bewildered, mad, angry, enraged, here his son-in-law who he apparently likes very much and is in very tight and knows an awful lot, again, the narrative almost daily, this addition to the narrative, a lot of questions to ask about the son-in-law," Rather said.
Echoing Watergate, he said, "What did he know, when did he know it?"
"All of this is getting very, very serious. Not just for President Trump and the future of his presidency, but the country as a whole. And now it comes back to this decision about pulling out of the Paris accords. There is an old saying in the Marine Corps: "If you can't pick up the cadence, you better check your own step" -- which is a way of saying everybody in the world has signed on this thing except for Syria and Nicaragua.
"And if the United States of America is to remain in a leadership role on this and other issues, we can't just stand with Nicaragua and Syria."