Richard Painter, a law professor who served as former President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, skewered House leadership for hesitating to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump on Friday morning, eight weeks after the release of a redacted version of the Mueller report.
“Refusing to impeach [Trump] in the face of such obvious crimes is a cowardly dereliction of duty by the House. Voters won’t respect that in 2020,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “History has shown that when forced to choose between liars and losers voters choose the liars almost every time.”
“Pathetic,” he added.
While he did not find evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to swing the 2016 election, former special counsel Robert Mueller outlined 10 instances where Trump may have obstructed justice. In a shocking ABC News interview this week, the president said he would likely take information from Russian operatives in the future, if it were on the table. (That’s illegal, Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub said Thursday.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly said that she wants to see Trump “in prison.” But the speaker has thus far refused to say at what point she would launch impeachment proceedings against the president despite a growing demand within her party. Among those who intensely oppose her stance is House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who wants his committee to launch an impeachment inquiry. Last week, a coalition of more than 30 progressive grassroots organizations sent Pelosi a letter urging her to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.
Painter ― who has become an outspoken opponent of the current Republican president ― outlined a number of apparent ethical violations by the Trump administration in another tweet: ″Hatch Act violations. Foreign emoluments. Obstruction of justice. Collusion with foreign adversaries. Contempt of Congress. Attacks on a free press. Payoffs and campaign finance violations.”
“Unless the House impeaches him it will continue and he will likely win in 2020,” Painter warned.
The Trump White House faces numerous legal challenges. Among them is a suit from congressional Democrats who accuse the president of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, profiting from being in office. And on Thursday a federal ethics group recommended senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway be fired for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from political campaigning.
However, while the Democrat-controlled House could conceivably come up with the votes needed to impeach the president, the process would then move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it would be much more difficult to drum up support for the president’s removal.
“What’s the point of impeaching [Trump] if [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] won’t have a real impeachment trial?” Painter asked. “Easy. Voters will see that both men are guilty as heck and toss them both out in 2020.”