Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warns there could be not only a political firestorm but acts of civil disobedience and even violence in reaction to President Obama's executive order on immigration Thursday.
"The country's going to go nuts, because they're going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it's going to be a very serious situation," Coburn said on Capital Download. "You're going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence."
Coburn, 66, is a conservative Republican but one who has a personal relationship with Obama. They entered the Senate in the same class, elected in 2004, and the new senators from opposite ends of the political spectrum and their spouses immediately hit it off at an orientation dinner. Last year, the president wrote a tribute in Time magazine to Coburn as "someone who speaks his mind (and) sticks to his principles."
"I really like the guy," Coburn, 66, told USA TODAY's weekly video newsmaker series Wednesday. "I thought he's neat, and I think Michelle's a neat lady."
That history gives Coburn's stark assessment a special sting. On immigration, he accuses Obama of acting like "an autocratic leader that's going to disregard what the Constitution says and make law anyway." He says changes in immigration policy require passage by Congress, not just the president's signature — a charge the White House disputes and on which legal experts disagree.
"Instead of having the rule of law handling in our country today, now we're starting to have the rule of rulers, and that's the total antithesis of what this country was founded on," Coburn says. "Here's how people think: Well, if the law doesn't apply to the president ... then why should it apply to me?"