“It’s quite clear his goose is cooked here,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC.
“If the lawyer gets three years, how much time should the client get?” he asked.
Painter added that Cohen’s crimes don’t even include any allegations related to Russia, currently the subject of special counsel Robert Mueller investigation.
He said Trump has just one way out to protect himself and his family: a comprehensive plea deal to federal and state charges in exchange for his resignation.
“Donald Trump is in serious trouble. His lawyers ought to be telling him to negotiate a plea deal,” Painter said. “Get him out of the White House. Have him resign, plead guilty to lower charges and let’s move on as a country.”
See his full discussion, above, which begins about 5½ minutes in.
Later, on Twitter, Painter called it “The Art of the Plea Bargain,” a not-so-subtle reference to Trump’s book The Art of The Deal, and he urged Trump to act fast.
Painter served in the Bush White House from 2005-2007, but has since turned into a vocal Trump critic. He was a lifelong Republican until this year, when he ran and lost in a primary as a Democrat against Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith.
Earlier this year, he predicted prison sentences for Trump insiders over Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“A lot of people are lying about their contacts with the Russians, and that’s criminal, so we’re going to have people going to the slammer over this,” he said in March. “The question is who and how high up this is going to reach with respect to criminal conduct.”