‘You’re Not King’: Top Ethics Lawyer Responds To Trump’s Claim That ‘He Can Do Whatever He Wants’ With The Justice Dept.
President Donald Trump said he “can do whatever he wants with the Department of Justice” in an interview on Thursday with the New York Times. But ethics lawyer Richard Painter, who served as a counsel in the George W. Bush administration, disagrees and rebuked Trump’s claim with a powerful sentence: “He is not a king.”
During an interview with CNN’s Outfront on Friday night, Painter said that Trump “picked the wrong country to be president of if he thinks he has absolute power to run the Justice Department however he wants.”
The lawyer continued and compared the president’s idea of America to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership in Russia.
“That may be the way it works in Vladimir Putin‘s Russia and other places but that’s not the way it works here,” Painter said. “There are laws, and he has been sworn to uphold the law and the constitution of the United States.”
Trump can remove the attorney general and all of his appointees in the Justice Department, but Painter said he does not have the authority to investigate his political opponents.
“Trump is not above the law and that’s the bottom line,” Painter said. “He is not above the law. He is not a king! He is a president!”
As noted by Newsweek, Trump claimed that he has the power to do whatever he wants with the Department of Justice after he was asked if he would request to reopen the investigation into former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter,” Trump told the New York Times.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election race. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort, campaign official Rick Gates, ex-campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have been the four members of Trump’s campaign to have already been claimed by the probe.