Even George W. Bush’s White House believes President Trump overstepped when he fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer Richard Painter explained why he believes Trump’s latest move to be a massive abuse of power.
To justify his belief, he compared Trump’s dismissal of Comey to Watergate, saying:
‘We cannot tolerate this – for the president to be firing people who are investigating him and his campaign and its collusion with the Russians. It’s a lot worse than Watergate. Watergate was a third-rate burglary. It was purely domestic in nature. This situation involves Russian espionage, and we’ve got to find out who is collaborating.’
Trump said he fired Comey as per the advice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In his letter informing Comey of his dismissal, Trump wrote:
‘I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.’
However, as Painter points out, Sessions previously came under fire for lying about his communications with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation hearing.
‘The attorney general was also part of the contacts made by the Trump campaign with Russia. The attorney general lied about that to the Senate at his confirmation hearing.’
Painter says that although Trump’s move was legal, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a gross abuse of power.
‘The president has the right to do it – legally he can do it – but it’s an abuse of power. It’s what President Nixon did when he fired Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor, and Nixon had to go through three attorneys general to do it – he had to fire two attorneys general for refusing to fire Cox.’
He continued, pointing out:
‘This time around the attorney general is [involved] in it himself, and he went along with this and he may have encouraged it, so we have a clear abuse of power.’
As for how to deal with Trump’s latest blunder, well, Painter thinks it’s time for Congress to act and work toward impeachment.
‘I think this has reached the point where the House Judiciary Committee ought to start the process of looking at this presidency and whether there has been a sufficient abuse to justify removing the president. I think they need to have a hearing. That’s what the House Judiciary Committee did with Nixon, and I think we’ve reached more than enough incriminating evidence of abuse of power that the House Judiciary Committee ought to start the process.’
As for Republicans in Congress, Painter says they “need to think about whether they want to go down with the ship, with Trump, participating in a White House cover-up here, or whether they want to restrain abuse of power by the president.”
Hopefully Congress will take Trump’s latest misstep seriously and begin the impeachment process.
Feature Image via Getty Images.