Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tells MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that President Trump’s conversation with Rodrigo Duterte shows a pattern of praising authoritarian leaders that is problematic. Booker also said that John Brennan’s testimony indicates the U.S. is headed "towards a real problem and potential collusion."
MITCHELL: And I also wanted to ask you about John Brennan's testimony and your thoughts about his description of what his concerns were regarding Russia, and the need for an FBI investigation into possible connections, because he saw unusual contacts between the Trump campaign associates, shall we say, U.S. persons, and Russian officials.
BOOKER: Look, we're at a point in American history where we're seeing a lot of dots that seem to be directing us towards a real problem, and potential collusion. We have everything from an FBI criminal investigation going on, a new special prosecutor, to now a re-energized bipartisan investigation in both the House and the Senate, because there continues to seem to be smoke that might result in an actual fire. In other words, real collusion going on between us and the Soviet Union.
And I'm sorry, but this circles back to just what do we stand for, what are our values. Whether it's our collective defense of our Democratic institutions, like our election from the Russians, to even this President and his conversations. Now that we're seeing transcripts come out from his conversations with Duterte, or his conversations with Erdogan in Turkey and how he almost seems to praise them for authoritarian actons, for violating international norms. This is all part of a very problematic trend in a presidency that greatly concerns me.
MITCHELL: Let me pick up on what you mentioned about Duterte, because "The Washington Post" revealed, and the White House has confirmed that this is a legitimate transcript of that phone conversation where he first of all praises Duterte for quote, doing an unbelievable job on the drug problem, when they're dealing with it by shooting people, suspects, shooting them in the streets. Also, violates Pentagon policy by revealing that the U.S. has two nuclear submarines off the North Korean coast. Things that Presidents don't talk about. Do you want to address that?
BOOKER: Yes, but -- it's not -- this is not just a one off. This is, we're seeing a pattern. So let's just take first appraising of authoritarian actions, anti-Democratic actions, actions that violate human rights by praising people, dictators, or strong authoritarian leaders that are doing these kind of things. And so, as a guy who has been fighting for years now against a drug war gone wrong here in this nation, to see him praising a more dramatic extreme of that in a different country, greatly worries me, both about the international context as well as the American context.
But then, for this President not to understand, whether it's conversations with the Russians in the oval office, Russian leaders in the oval office, or this conversation where he is revealing information that should be by any president -- frankly, by any leader, including myself -- should have the common sense knowledge that this is not something that should be shared. He goes to Israel at a time that he exposed potentially Israeli intelligence and endangered our strong cooperation between these countries. This is becoming a pattern of recklessness and really potentially as we saw what happened with China, how dangerous it is, these folks who are doing intelligence gathering, how it cost American lives. This is a recklessness that's unacceptable. And again, worthy of criticism, I'm glad to hear a lot of my Republican colleagues speaking up on these issues as well and resoundingly criticize this President for the way he's conducting foreign policy and potentially putting Americans and American agents at risk.