Like a NASCAR winner doing donuts, the smoke must be pouring off the tires of Joe Scarborough's car. Because on today's Morning Joe, Scarborough pulled a screeching, rubber-burning, 180. Just last week, we noted Scarborough demanding that President Trump "be arrested today. He should be sent to jail today for insurrection."
But on today's show, Scarborough suddenly changed course, warning against prosecuting President Trump. Said Scarborough:
"My concern has always been, we go down this road, then we are are criminalizing politics . . . Do we not have to keep that in mind. Do we not have to be cognizant of that fact: that if we do jail a president, even if he deserves to be in jail, that we begin down a dangerous road?"
On the panel was guest Tom Rogers, a former NBC Cable president and author of a Newsweek article, "A 10 Point Guide to the Prosecution of Donald Trump." Rogers proposed prosecuting President Trump at the state/local, rather than the federal, level. He said that a prosecution by the Biden Justice Department would invariably be seen as seeking "revenge."
But Rogers then added this prediction:
"If he is indicted . . . I think there is a chance he would flee the country. Go to a country that we have no extradition treaty with, with a friendly president, maybe like Brazil."
Joe Scarborough warning that prosecuting President Trump would take the country down a "dangerous road," and Tom Rogers predicting that an indicted President Trump might flee the country was sponsored in part by Allstate, TD Ameritrade, and Sleep Number.
Here's the transcript. Click "expand" to read more.
6:46 am ET
JOE SCARBOROUGH: We have heard at the end of the last couple of presidencies, people on the other side talking about wanting to prosecute. You had some Democrats urging the prosecution of George W. Bush for war crimes in the Iraq war. There were, of course, Republicans urging the same for Barack Obama.
And now we get to the end of the Trump presidency, and of course, my God, there is a laundry list of things that Donald Trump could be prosecuted for. Both the federal level and the state level. But my concern has always been, we go down this road, then we are are criminalizing politics. And people start understanding that if I lose this election, I could end up in jail.
I understand that Donald Trump is an exception to all exceptions. But do we not have to keep that in mind. Do we not have to be cognizant of that fact: that if we do jail a president, even if he deserves to be in jail, that we begin down a dangerous road?
. . .
TOM ROGERS: As you've said many times, this is a cult of personality. And given the fact that is a cult of personality, I think we have to go after him as a person, not as the head of a political movement.
I think if the Biden Justice Department prosecutes him in presidential acts, it's invariably going to be looking as if they have political revenge.
And instead we need to elevate the prosecution of him as a person, with state and local prosecutors taking the lead on what looked like a huge number of tax evasion, money laundering, illegal corporate payments, bank fraud. There’s a lot there.
And if he can be seen to be nothing more than a convicted felon, a white-collar criminal, a complete [inaudible] on that basis, I think we have some way of detaching much more of that Republican constituency, which still seems to believe in this guy.
. . .
Well, one thing he said a number of months ago was, imagine if I lose. I might have to leave the country. I actually think if he is indicted here for the kind of criminal acts I’m talking about, and obviously they need to be pursued with complete due process and fairness. But if he is, I think there is a chance he would flee the country. Go to a country that we have no extradition treaty with, with a friendly president, maybe like Brazil.