Senator predicts a firestorm that could lead to violence

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WASHINGTON — 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.”

“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?”

Though he says both parties deserve some of the blame for Washington’s dysfunction, he argues that the president has the ability to chart a different path. Solid Republican control of Congress in the wake of this month’s midterm elections could make it easier to deal with an issue such as the structural problems associated with the deficit. Making the compromises necessary for that “requires divided government,” he says.

“If I were in his office, I’d say, if you want to have a successful second term, dig down, swallow your pride, get what you can get, compromise on everything you can for the best interests of the country,” he says. “Bring us back together.”

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