The former chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration explained his worries about President Donald Trump committing further acts of obstruction of justice when Congress is out of Washington, DC for the holiday recess.
MSNBC anchor Katy Tur featured Professor Richard Painter to discuss the “four threats to Robert Mueller” that Painter outlined in the New York Times, writing with Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer in the Barack Obama administration. Eisen is the chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) and Painter is the vice chair.
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) December 21, 2017
“I hope it’s a merry Christmas, but I was worried that today we might have some negative developments,” Painter admitted. “I think we may be out of the woods on that, but over the holidays, when the members of Congress are out of Washington and the House and Senate Judiciary Committee are not as able to respond as quickly as they should in this situation, I think the president could try any of those strategies or people at the Justice Department or the White House could implement some of those strategies for undermining Robert Mueller.”
“It’s critically important for the president and his staff to understand that attempts to interfere with this investigation, with them — would be an obstruction of justice,” Painter reminded. “And already he has exposed himself to an obstruction of justice charge through the firing of James Comey and the pressure put on James Comey for loyalty pledge when James Comey was head of the FBI.”
“I’m very much hoping that none of those things happen, that President Trump simply stops talking about this investigation, stops tweeting about it, and stops obstructing justice so Robert Mueller can do his job,” Painter explained.
Tur also asked W. Bush’s former chief ethics lawyer about a public letter he co-signed, with other former top Republicans, defending the special counsel.
Prosecutors and former GOP officials are weighing in today for Mueller.
Former US attorneys, GOP officials come to Mueller's defense https://t.co/t0v9rLWZ9o
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 22, 2017
“The reason we wrote that letter was that we were concerned that the president was not listening, that he was listening to political operatives in the White House, some of the remaining alt-right faction and other conspiracy theorists who put him down in front of Fox News and he listens to what’s going on, on Fox News instead of talking to his lawyers,” Painter explained.
“I think if he talks to his lawyers, he’s going to figure it out pretty quickly that he better lay off of Robert Mueller, lay off this investigation and do his job while Robert Mueller does his,” Painter predicted. “That’s the reason we wrote those letters, I’m very much hoping the president listens.”