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Stop taking Richard Painter seriously given history of outlandish statements and treason accusations

Stop taking Richard Painter seriously given history of outlandish statements and treason accusations

Former “Bush Ethics Lawyer” should be identified as current Vice Chair of left-wing group formerly run by David Brock

Richard Painter is the Vice Chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a left-wing activist group.

In December 2016, Painter replaced in the position of Vice Chair … wait for it … David Brock. Yes, that David Brock, the consummate Democratic oppo-research attack dog, leader of Media Matters, and now American Bridge. That David Brock was Vice Chair of CREW tells you everything you need to know about the group.

But you will almost never hear this part of Painter’s resume when he appears on TV, which he does quite often. You might hear that he’s a professor at U. Minnesota Law School. But most of all, you will hear that he is a former George W. Bush administration Chief Ethics Lawyer (2005-2007).

But in the age of Trump, his entree to TV commentary has been relentless Trump bashing — there is nothing the media loves more than someone who served in an Republican administration but now attacks Trump.

And Painter’s main TV role is to attack Trump in outlandish terms. I never heard of Painer — and I bet you never did either — until he started fulfilling the TV role of attacking Trump.

Painter called on Electors not to vote for Trump when the Electoral College met because of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution due to Trump’s ownership of hotels in which foreign government officials stay:

Painter’s view of the Emoluments Clause application is, at best, simplistic and questionable, but he acts as if it’s open and shut.

Painter also called for Jeff Sessions to resign:

Painter has said he’s worried about “KGB agents running around the West Wing” in the White House and National Security Council:

One of Painter’s themes is to toss in the word “treason,” as in this MSNBC appearance in March 2017:

And again in April:

That accusation of treason was made again last night, after the NY Times published a report that Donald Trump, Jr. and others met with a Russian lawyer who arranged the meeting on the promise of having damaging information about Hillary Clinton.  There never was any indication that there was a suggestion of illegally obtained or hacked information, or that the Trump team suggested such. Rather, it was an offer of opposition research at worst of the type CREW’s David Brock is notorious for offering up on Republicans.

Yet Painter said it was treason to have that meeting in a tweet.

And of course, because if is a former Bush Administration ethics lawyer, he quickly appeared on TV to repeat the accusation. First he appeared on MSNBC:

“This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States. We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.  . . .  If this story is true, we’d have one of them if not both of them in custody by now, and we’d be asking them a lot of questions. This is unacceptable. This borders on treason, if it is not itself treason.”

Then on CNN:

And the accusation is dominating headlines:

But, as is becoming common, Prof. Jonathan Turley is the voice of reason, and completely debunks Painter’s claim:

Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, has declared that the meeting of Donald Trump Jr., with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have compromising information on Hillary Clinton  Hillary Clinton during the campaign,  “borders on treason.”  Others have said that the disclosure could be the long sought after “smoking gun” on collusion and evidence of criminal conduct.  I am afraid that I have to continue my record as something of a “buzz kill” on these stories.  There is not a clear criminal act in such a meeting based on the information that we have.  Moreover, it is not necessarily unprecedented….

There is no crime in listening to people who say that they have incriminating information on a political opponent, even a foreigner.  Article III defines treason as “levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”  To say that this type of meeting even borders on treason is quite a departure from the language and cases governing that crime.

Moreover, it is hardly shocking to see a willingness to gather dirt during that election.  Hillary Clinton was repeatedly criticized for her close association with figures like David Brock who was denounced even by John Podesta as sleazy and disreputable.   There was also Sidney Blumenthal who was regularly denounced for spreading rumors and dirt against anyone threatening Clinton.

There also is the allegations surrounding who funded a former British spy to come up with the dossier against Trump, which is now viewed as discredited.

Add to that analysis the fact that the Times says the meeting was on June 9, but by all accounts the first reports of Russian hacking were disclosed a week after that. So Painter’s entire premise, that the Trump team must have known any information offered was the result of spying, doesn’t hold up.

Painter’s repeated accusations of treason, as well as his earlier outlandish positions, demonstrate that if cable news is going to put him on, he should be identified with his present position with a left-wing anti-Trump, anti-Republican activist organization.

That’s a lot more relevant to his commentary than his decade-ago service in the Bush administration.


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His head looks as fake as what comes out of his mouth.

G. de La Hoya | July 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Painter is just panther by another name. Will these people ever realize that a growing segment of the population doesn’t give a rat’s a$$ about their opinion or even mine 😉

The whole story is nonsense.

1. There are only two kinds of treason: (1) Taking up arms against the USA, which is obviously not applicable; or (2) Adherence to an enemy of the USA., coupled with an overt act giving that enemy aid & comfort. Adherence is the key requirement of the second definition. It is absolutely black letter law that knowingly sheltering an enemy spy in wartime, and helping him find a job and a car, is not treason unless it’s motivated by loyalty to the enemy. Had Wendell Wilkie refused FDR’s request not to campaign on the Pearl Harbor issue, that would not have been treason even if he knew it would help the enemy, because that would not have been his motive, but rather a price he was willing to pay in order to win the election. Nor was Teddy Kennedy’s letter to Brezhnev treason, for the same reason.

2. “We do not get our opposition research from spies” is garbage. We get it from wherever we can. An election campaign is not a court, and there is no such thing as an exclusionary rule. Even if Trump Jr had known for certain that the information he hoped this lawyer would give him had been obtained illegally, even if she’d told him so, there would have been nothing wrong with the campaign using it — and to refuse to do so without the candidate’s consent would have been a breach of duty.

3. The fact that someone is Russian no more means she represents her country’s government than does the fact that someone is American or French or Israeli. The people pushing this conspiracy theory consistently ignore this, pretending that Russia is still a communist country where the state controls everything and everyone works for it. Even if a lawyer has at one time represented her government, or a government-controlled company, that doesn’t mean she is doing so at all times, much less that she is herself part of the government.

4. It makes absolute sense that the candidate would not be informed in advance about such a meeting, and since it yielded nothing of value it also makes sense that he would never be informed about it. Why on earth would anyone want to bother him with such trivial information? The only way he would ever have heard of it would have been if she’d come up with useful information, and he’d expressed curiosity about its provenance.

OleDirtyBarrister | July 10, 2017 at 1:58 pm

I am not a sartorial sage or clotheshorse, but I find it hard to take anyone serious that wears a striped shirt and striped tie under a striped suit. I know that sounds like a snarky sorority girl or newspaper columnist dimwit, but there is just something viscerally repulsive about it.

Makes note to self to stop wearing striped ties And shirts under pin striped suits.

Right, the only way the Russians could know that they had been working with and funding Hillary is if they had been bugging her or hacking her computer.

Anybody ever seen Rags and Painter at the same time?

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Alleged Russian assistance to the Trump campaign against Hillary Clinton and her campaign doesn’t remotely amount to giving “Aid and Comfort” to an enemy (the aid would have been rendered to the Trump campaign by the Russians, not by the Trump campaign to the Russians) nor would it have been an act of war against “the United States”, but a political act against a private person (Hillary Clinton) and her party. The Democrat Party is not “the United States.”

    Milhouse in reply to DaveGinOly. | July 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    In any case, as I pointed out above, even giving actual enemies actual aid or comfort is not in itself treason. The constitution lists only two forms of treason, not three: (1) levying war and (2) adhering to the enemy. An overt act giving the enemy aid or comfort, witnessed by two people, is a necessary requirement for the second form, but the treason is the adherence, not the aid given. Without adherence there is no treason no matter how much aid or comfort one provides.