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Week in politics: Trump claims he'll be a dictator, Hunter Biden's legal troubles


We now turn to domestic politics. Former President Donald Trump said he would only be a dictator if reelected on the first day. Hunter Biden, the president's son, charged with failing to pay his taxes, a lot of taxes. And a Republican senator drops his long hold on some military promotions. Ron Elving joins us. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Let's begin with what sounded like a pretty ominous moment when Sean Hannity of Fox News interviewed Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP: I love this guy. He says, you're not going to be a dictator, are you? I said, no, no, no - other than Day 1.

SIMON: Ron, is it hard not to take Donald Trump at his word that he wants to make a series of authoritarian decisions if he returns to office, like, say, closing the border, which is one of the examples he went on to give?

ELVING: You know, the former president has been very open about his frustration with constraints when he was president - frustrations with people who pushed back, like his chiefs of staff or certain cabinet members, and, of course, the Congress and the courts. So maybe a day of being dictator sounds pretty good, but who's to say it would stop after a day? If he wasn't happy with that day's work, why would he give up so soon? And if he was happy with it, why stop? Who in history was dictator for a day and no more?

No. So Trump was just having a bit of fun with Sean Hannity, perhaps, or perhaps he was serious. Or perhaps this was just more bluster to divert attention from his various courtroom dramas, including the live testimony he's expected to give on Monday in the civil suit against him in New York.

SIMON: Meanwhile, Hunter Biden charged in California with nine federal counts of evading millions of dollars in taxes. The indictment said he spent some of that money on illicit drugs, escorts and various luxuries. He'll also be tried on gun charges in Delaware. Now, Hunter Biden is his own person. But will his indictment figure into the House Republican inquiry into the impeachment of President Biden?

ELVING: Hunter Biden's lawyer says those taxes were all paid two years ago, but we are talking about millions in taxes. And he's also facing that gun charge you mentioned, so any effort to negotiate a plea deal at this point could entail some jail time. And of course, the longer his name - Hunter Biden's name - is in the news, the more lift it gives to those Republican efforts to impeach President Biden for his ties with his son. Now, there's no evidence yet that the president profited from those ties. But it's the kind of accusation that keeps the pot boiling, keeps impeachment headlines coming and keeps generating outrage on both sides of the political divide.

SIMON: Senator Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican, dropped his hold on most military promotions, which he was holding up over the Pentagon's abortion policy. What made him finally relent?

ELVING: The pressure was coming not just from the Biden people and the Senate Democrats, but from the Pentagon itself and the bases where these officers serve and the people that they serve with and, ultimately, from enough of Tuberville's Republican colleagues in the Senate that he could no longer withstand the weight of their disapproval.

SIMON: Ron, a woman in Texas wants to end her pregnancy because a genetic condition gives the fetus that she is carrying a low chance of survival and puts herself, the mother, at risk. Now, there are three overlapping abortion bans in Texas, but a judge granted Kate Cox permission for the procedure, then the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, got involved and got the results he wanted, didn't he?

ELVING: Yes. He has gotten some results. Late last night, the Texas Supreme Court put a pause on the ruling allowing her to have an abortion, and this, of course, puts it in limbo while the Texas Supreme Court considers the merits, which it has not ruled on. Now, Ken Paxton said he'd prosecute any doctor who was involved in providing an emergency abortion. Despite the judge's order, he said he would also go after the hospitals involved. He's no stranger to controversy, as you know, Scott. During the 2020 election aftermath, he ginned up a lawsuit against several states that had certified Joe Biden the winner in the 2020 presidential race. The Supreme Court threw that out and essentially refused to hear it. But nonetheless, Ken Paxton made a name for himself with Donald Trump at that time.

SIMON: NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Thanks so much for being with us, Ron.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for