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.

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
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St. Joseph186366
Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
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Jackson4653
LaGrange4657
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Delaware42949
Marshall4273
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Floyd37144
Morgan32531
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Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
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Scott1607
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Sullivan441
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Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55257

Reported Deaths: 2903
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9825417
Cuyahoga7392372
Hamilton5605197
Marion273038
Lucas2669302
Pickaway218441
Summit2079206
Montgomery191826
Mahoning1805231
Butler151144
Columbiana128860
Stark1079112
Lorain98367
Trumbull91665
Warren81421
Clark7619
Belmont54322
Delaware54115
Fairfield52916
Tuscarawas52910
Medina50632
Lake48018
Miami45531
Licking44212
Portage42858
Ashtabula42544
Wood40451
Geauga39942
Clermont3906
Wayne35951
Richland3255
Allen30540
Mercer2788
Darke24525
Greene2449
Erie23422
Holmes2203
Huron1992
Madison1928
Ottawa13923
Crawford1345
Washington13020
Putnam12615
Sandusky12614
Hardin12012
Morrow1161
Ross1133
Auglaize1044
Coshocton902
Monroe8817
Jefferson832
Union801
Hancock781
Hocking788
Muskingum761
Preble701
Williams682
Guernsey673
Lawrence670
Clinton660
Shelby644
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot585
Brown541
Defiance493
Fayette460
Knox451
Highland441
Athens431
Champaign391
Scioto380
Seneca332
Perry321
Van Wert320
Henry290
Paulding230
Adams221
Pike220
Vinton222
Jackson180
Gallia141
Harrison121
Meigs110
Morgan110
Noble110
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