“If the lawyer gets three years, how much time should the client get?”
That was the question posed by Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, after the sentencing of President Donald Trump‘s former attorney Michael Cohen. Two of the charges in Cohen’s case related to campaign finance violations that Cohen and prosecutors say were done at Trump’s direction. According to Painter, this is so bad that Trump should take extreme measures to avoid dire consequences.
“Donald Trump is in serious trouble,” Painter said on MSNBC on Wednesday. “His lawyers ought to be telling him to negotiate a plea deal … reduced charges in return for his resignation.”
Painter pointed out that not only should Trump be worried about being implicated in Cohen’s crimes, he also has to worry about whatever dirt Special Counsel Robert Mueller might have on him regarding Russian election interference or obstruction of justice.
“It’s quite clear, his goose is cooked here,” Painter said.
Current Justice Department policy says that a sitting president cannot be indicted, so if Trump were to face charges, it would have to be after he leaves office, either at the end of his term or via resignation or removal. Removing Trump from office via the impeachment process has seemed unlikely, given that Republicans hold a majority and it would take two thirds of the Senate to vote against him. Nevertheless, Painter believes that the current situation warrants the GOP turning on the president.
“This is where the Republicans in Congress ought to be driving this, toward a comprehensive plea … get him out of the White House.”
Painter reiterated this position on Twitter, telling Trump he should negotiate with Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York while he’s still in office.
The Art of the Plea Bargain.
Move fast. Holdouts get worse deals.@realdonaldtrump: negotiate with Bob Mueller and the NY AG while you still have keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and perhaps the Old Post Office hotel, to throw into the bargain.https://t.co/zFzHYwnqb7 via rawstory
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 13, 2018
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]