Even the ethics counsel for the president who taught the world about “nuclular” energy and led the U.S. into an endless war in the wrong country thinks Donald Trump is the guiltiest person ever to sit in the Oval Office.
Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics counsel for George W. Bush in the early 2000’s, noted in a recent interview with CBS News that there is more evidence to charge Trump with a crime than ever there was against President Nixon, who resigned under threat of impeachment.
Painter, who often appears as a contributor on various news broadcasts, chatted with CBS News about the abounding evidence of obstruction of justice and abuse of power against Trump.
So much so that he calls on Trump and Vice President Pence to be removed from office.
“We’re well beyond that point and yet the House and the Senate won’t do anything at all,” Painter lamented.
Painter sees “very strong evidence” to suggest Trump’s family business dealings have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause bans the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments, like the ones Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen accepted through a slush fund so clumsily he might as well have named it “Crime Doing, LLC.”
Trump is currently battling an emoluments lawsuit pertaining to his Washington, D.C., hotel, a frequent stop for those who wish to protest the president.
Taking a decided turn from his days demonizing the Muslim community after 9/11, Painter also came down hard on Trump’s attempt to enforce travel bans on predominantly Muslim countries. The ban is, according to Painter, a violation of the first amendment.
“Going after President Trump’s abuse of power and violations of the Constitution needs to be the number one priority,” Painter rightfully pointed out, noting that Trump’s behavior is “unprecedented.”
Painter isn’t singularly fed up with Donald Trump, but the entirety of the Republican Party. In fact, Painter is so disillusioned by the noticeable shift in the party’s priorities that for the 2018 midterm elections, the long-time Republican is running as a Democrat. When asked why he chose to identify as a Democrat and not a “never-Trump” Republican, he had this to say:
“The Republican Party… has moved steadily to the right on a broad range of issues from women’s right to choose, to the environment, and regulation of the financial services sector. So, we have a Republican Party that’s very different than the Republican Party that existed when I first became involved in Republican politics.”
This primary season, Painter is up against Tina Smith, the Minnesotan Democrat who replaced Senator Al Franken after his resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
At the end of the day, Painter is most concerned for the fate of our democracy under Trump, and hopes to become a part of the solution.
“I think this president is a great risk to our democracy and he has shown that since he was elected. [His] abuse of power in office, his violation of the constitution, his rhetoric … borders on fascist.”
He’s absolutely right on both counts: authoritarians Trump and Pence have got to go, and Republicans need to seriously consider staying tied to a party with such a flippant and tumultuous system of values it’s unrecognizable to one of its longest supporters.
Trump really does destroy everything he touches.