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Booker: Trump has 'authoritarian tendencies'

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) says he is concerned by President Donald Trump's behavior and troubled by the reports that he attempted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Posted: Jan 28, 2018 4:08 PM
Updated: Jan 28, 2018 4:08 PM

Did President Donald Trump obstruct justice with regard to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation?

It's not the first time this has been asked, but it has resurfaced with the news that in addition to firing former FBI Director James Comey, the President last June allegedly wanted Mueller fired as well. The President has denied the allegation.

It will be the deciding question of Trump's presidency, and he has two ways to answer it -- but he should choose wisely.

As it stands now, the only way the obstruction question can be answered in the affirmative is if Trump speaks with investigators -- instead of smartly asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. There is a school of thought that Trump's assertion of the Fifth would be politically untenable as innocent people are anxious to speak up and assert their innocence.

In this regard, the President has a choice. He could succumb to the whims of political pressure and talk -- as he has said he wishes to do and as any innocent person likely would. Or he could use his lawyers' advice as a political shield and state that as much as he desired to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him God, his lawyers won't allow him to do so.

If he is disciplined enough to pursue this approach, then he walks, skates and even break-dances his way into the clear -- after all is said and done and the investigation concludes. Onward he marches, to tout his tax cuts, unprecedented deregulation, a booming stock market and cutting a deal for his wall, border security and protection for the Dreamers.

If he talks, however, his presidency may very well be over. Prosecutors would walk him right off the ledge -- as it relates to a potential obstruction charge and even that other crime called perjury. Here's why. For those who may not be aware, this President plays loose and fast with the truth. But I digress. Talking would also give prosecutors an insight into what he is and was thinking. That's critical because seasoned prosecutors would want to know what the thought process was behind his actions relating to the Comey firing and his alleged desire to fire Mueller. The President's words would give them a very direct window.

Right now, all that exists is circumstantial evidence. On the surface, it might appear that he did this to impede the investigation and to otherwise circumvent judicial process. That is, that he didn't want prosecutors discovering the truth.

Without saying a word though, Trump and his team can hide behind the standard and commonly parroted assertions that: 1) he's an unconventional president who speaks his mind while acting and doing what he pleases; 2) he's a novice to the political process and not adept in the normal separation of powers; 3) he has the executive authority to fire who he wishes on any legal basis he chooses; 4) there was never any collusion or obstruction, and; 5) this is a major witch hunt being pursued by flunkies with a leftist ideology upset that the Democrats lost the election.

Ultimately, all those who believe Trump colluded with Russia while repeatedly lying about it will continue to believe this anyway -- whether he talks to Mueller or not.

Similarly, his die-hard supporters will take to their graves the view that this is a witch hunt -- no matter what Trump says or doesn't say.

In this regard, all the circumstantial evidence will remain just that. And political and legal pundits can debate the "why" regarding the firing of Comey and the alleged contemplated firing of Mueller.

Once Trump opens his mouth, however, he simultaneously opens up the dimensions of his mind, thoughts, reasoning, thinking and analytical process for prosecutors to savagely assail, contradict, denigrate, belittle and undermine.

In doing so, the once-circumstantial evidence becomes quite direct. And there is a sea of difference between evidence based upon circumstance, innuendo and interpretation -- and that which is direct and potentially contradictory. Trump has no idea what others have told special counsel investigators and in what detail they have done so. Speaking to them is a trap and a monumental risk not worth taking.

While it's an open question as to whether a sitting president may be indicted, or must first be impeached and then prosecuted, the goal for the Trump team is not to have that question answered on his watch.

Finally, if Trump is disciplined enough to stay quiet and prosecutors have to make a case against him based upon splitting hairs and ascribing a basis for his actions, the case will go nowhere.

As it stands, the Republican Party will continue to give him cover. Should Trump put a bull's-eye on his own back by walking into this trap, all bets may be off. These investigations tend to have that effect. Remember a guy by the name of Richard Nixon?

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 826754

Reported Deaths: 10200
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97493705
Cuyahoga821781012
Hamilton61350439
Montgomery41700399
Summit33399726
Lucas30111597
Butler29721228
Stark24811400
Warren18917139
Lorain18086212
Mahoning16758335
Lake15365135
Clermont15160104
Delaware1382177
Licking12679132
Trumbull12401302
Fairfield1218480
Greene11631133
Medina11128165
Clark10608264
Wood9964154
Allen9511126
Portage8867105
Miami886573
Richland8790116
Marion7319113
Tuscarawas7142174
Columbiana7085124
Pickaway702850
Wayne6781164
Muskingum671242
Erie5886118
Hancock537890
Ross530287
Scioto519662
Geauga483555
Darke457589
Ashtabula439068
Lawrence432651
Union430628
Mercer424287
Sandusky421862
Seneca413555
Auglaize412759
Huron410338
Shelby410221
Jefferson403366
Belmont395640
Washington372040
Putnam364672
Athens36369
Madison339329
Knox336522
Ashland331738
Fulton325943
Defiance319278
Crawford313268
Preble311534
Brown296619
Logan292729
Ottawa282134
Clinton279043
Williams270166
Highland262418
Jackson256943
Guernsey241725
Champaign240927
Fayette225529
Morrow22294
Perry221318
Holmes218662
Henry210247
Hardin204133
Coshocton197420
Van Wert196644
Gallia190926
Wyandot190549
Adams165615
Pike164116
Hocking163423
Carroll149516
Paulding139021
Noble117840
Meigs103221
Monroe95629
Harrison8568
Morgan79128
Vinton67113
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