Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter said President Donald Trump could not survive the legal challenges piling up around him — and he urged him to step down and cut a deal with prosecutors.
Painter appeared Saturday morning on “AM Joy on MSNBC,” where he said Trump had plainly broken the law by continuing to profit from foreign investment into his family’s Washington, D.C. hotel — which the president leased from the federal government.
“Everybody is ignoring the law,” Painter said. “The General Services Administration signed a lease with him that specifically prohibited a United States government official from having an interest in the hotel, but they don’t want to enforce that lease. They came up with a convoluted opinion that explains away the clear terms of the lease.”
“The emoluments from foreign governments going that hotel — illegal,” he added. “Congress won’t enforce the law, that’s been the problem over the past two years.”
Painter has been involved in a lawsuit challenging Trump’s interest in the hotel as a violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, but he said the president could not beat every investigation against him.
“Now we’ve got (special counsel) Bob Mueller catching up with the president, we have the Southern District of New York, we have the New York attorney general,” Painter said. “Criminal investigations, multiple charges on multiple fronts against top associates.”
He called on the president to leave the White House for the good of the country.
“I do believe it’s time for President Trump to work out a plea deal, resign the presidency, take lower charges and let this country move on,” Painter said. “This will be a very, very ugly two years if he insists on staying in the White House and fighting criminal charges that are inevitable.”
“It’s clear he committed multiple crimes,” he added. “He ought to be working on his plea deal as we work on putting together the country again.”