Former Bush ethics lawyer smacks down Rick Santorum over impeachment
Richard Painter on MSNBC. (Screenshot)

On CNN Thursday, former Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter sparred with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) over the impending Senate trial against President Donald Trump.


"I think the House Democrats did everything they could in view of what's going on with the Trump administration," said Painter. "They have gone to court to compel a lot of evidence being produced by the Trump administration, and they've been fought every step of the way. A number of the cases are going to be decided by the United States Supreme Court next year. But this is trial is going to take place in the Senate as a fair trial. It is presided over by the chief justice of the United States. This is a trial. It's not a political game. The oath of loyalty is to the United States of America, not to Donald Trump. These senators, Democrats and Republicans, have an obligation to hear the facts, to hear witnesses, and make a decision."

"For Mitch McConnell to say he is working with the White House, coordinating with the defendant in this trial before the trial has even begun, is atrocious," added Painter. "He may think he is a judge impaneling an all-white jury for a Klansman trial in Mississippi. That is not the kind of trial we have."

"I'm sorry. You're being absurd," snapped Santorum. "I saw what Tom Daschle did in 1998, and I don't think you were complaining one bit about him carrying the water for the president. This is typical, and I think completely appropriate."

"I didn't approve of that in 1998," said Painter. "I did not approve of that then and I do not approve of it now."

"Fine," said Santorum. "It is the Senate to make the rules. there is no requirement in the Senate to listen to witnesses ... if Republicans concede and give witnesses to the Democrats, I can tell you there will be a lot of Republicans who want witnesses the Democrats don't want. So this is a very, very double-edged sword for both parties as they walk down this process."

"It shouldn't be partisan. It should be about America," said Painter. "Our loyalty is to the United States of America. And our senators take an oath to the country."

"Do you think that's what happened in the House?" shot back Santorum.

"The House did their job. This president should have been impeached years ago," replied Painter. "This president has not conducted himself in accordance with the Constitution."

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