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Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2019

Chris Hayes MSNBC: Cory Booker on impeaching Trump ‘We did not elect an authoritarian in chief’

In an interview tonight on “All In with Chris Hayes,” 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke to Hayes about his call for impeachment proceeding’s following Special Counsel Mueller’s statement: “When you have a President that stonewalls Congress, that refuses to allow people to testify, refuses to allow the release of information, that is a serious undermining of what I believe is constitutional intent. We did not elect an authoritarian in chief.”

He added: “I believe that expungement proceedings will strengthen congress’ hand in getting the information and responses that they need to come to a conclusion about ultimate impeachment.”

Booker continued: “This is a very deeply principled moral moment in America. Are we going to let a president who has potentially broken the law, obstructed justice, lied and engaged in deceit and other conduct unbefitting his office, will we just let that go by without doing the right thing?”

Check out the video below.

Cory Booker

photo/donkeyhotey

VIDEO: All In With Chris Hayes/MSNBC

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RUSH TRANSCRIPT

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Many people noted that Robert Mueller didn’t say anything in his statement today that wasn’t already in his report, including the point that received perhaps the most attention, that if he had confidence that President Trump did not commit a crime, he would have said so.  But that said, the spectacle of the former special counsel declaring that in-person on camera was pretty powerful.

And that led to a bunch of new calls for an impeachment inquiry, including from several 2020 presidential candidates like Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker who said, quote: Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear, Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic candidate for president.

What changed today that you felt compelled to issue that statement?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, it was more than just today.  It was an evolution of me witnessing what’s happening in the House.  You have the House going in good faith trying to continue an investigation.  Nancy Pelosi in a very sobered fashion talking about, let’s follow this evidence to the conclusions that it brings about.

But when you have a president that stonewalls Congress, that refuses to allow people to testify, refuses to allow the release of information, that is a serious undermining of what I believe is constitutional intent.  We did not elect an authoritarian in chief.  He’s subject to the checks and balances of the Constitution, and in this case, he is not doing that.

And then as you said today, the power of Mueller coming forward and reiterating the point that he did not in any way exonerate this president from wrongdoing and that if you read the report, in fact, there’s considerable evidence in there that speaks to obstruction.  And so, now, we have a point where we have a president refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation.  And I believe that expungement proceedings will strengthen Congress’ hand in getting the information and the responses that they need to come to a conclusion about ultimate impeachment.

HAYES:  So, I want to give you a few arguments people make against impeachment or beginning impeachment proceedings and just sort of hear your response to them.  I want to say that I have these arguments with people through correspondences and off the report with politicians and things like that.  I mean, one of them is the president is essentially baiting Democrats into kind of a high-stakes sort of reality show fight in which he will have an advantage and will be — take them off the path of sort of kitchen table issues and substantive progress on the things they campaigned on in 2018.

BOOKER:  Look, I’ve had these moments a lot of times in my political career where you look at a political lens and you get one view, but then you come back to what’s best for this nation or, in my case, my early days for my city.  You come to another conclusion.  And that’s the conclusion you have to go with.

I know the politics of this is problematic.  But this is a very deeply principled moral moment in America.  Are we going to let a president who is potentially broken the law, obstructed justice, that lied and engaged in deceit and other conduct unbefitting his office, we just let that go by without doing the right thing?

And, clearly, in this case, I think the right thing above and beyond the politics of it is that we do what the framers intended, which was to have oversight over the executive and hold him accountable, because nobody is above the law.  And for a guy — let me just be clear — who didn’t win the majority of the votes in America, who won this through the mandates of our Constitution and Electoral College, I mean, dear God, this guy cannot in any way be allowed to be above the law, to be above the mandates of the Constitution.

And so, that’s what I stand on.  I agree.  Anybody who looks at the politics of this, it’s a thorny path.  But History will look back and what we choose to do and see if we did the right thing.  And I think the right thing is to hold this president accountable for his actions.

HAYES:  This is a slightly different objection, but it’s in the ballpark.  I think it goes to the core of some of what you talked about in your campaign as U.S. senator.  I mean, you live in Newark.  You live there for year.  You were the mayor there.

People in the neighborhood you live in are facing all kinds of challenges in the day to day life — wages, mass incarceration, air pollution from nearby, you know, polluters.  Things like that.

I guess there’s this question, right, does impeachment become this concern of a small vanguard of the Democratic base that’s very focused on this and when you go back and you talk to your neighbors in Newark, they’re just thinking of 1,000 things before they think of that?

BOOKER:  Yes.  Look, you know, people are a lot more sophisticated than folks give them credit for.  I always say, I got my B.A. from Stanford but my PhD from the streets of Newark.

And folks know — we got shootings in my neighborhood in the last month.  We had real pressing challenges that I hope that this election — these are the issues I hope we’re discussing.  But I do feel from my conversations with my community —

HAYES:  Yes.

BOOKER:  — that there’s been a moral vandalism from this president that has so undermined our basic values, which frankly, if we surrender our values, then so much of what this — the hope of this nation is beginning to be eroded.

So, folks want this president to be held accountable.  Ultimately, I plan on doing that through the electoral process and beating him and every day, I get more fired up to do just that.  But I cannot as a United States senator, swore an oath to uphold this Constitution, and allow him to do things that I think are against that Constitution, like stonewalling a legitimate congressional inquiry.

HAYES:  All right.  Senator Cory Booker, also running for president, thank you for making some time this evening.  I really do appreciate it.

BOOKER:  Thank you very much, Chris.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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