Richard Painter, the former hief White House ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration was a guest on MSNBC Live with Katy Tur and he pulled no punches about seeing Donald Trump’s increasingly unstable tweets, particularly regarding the use of nuclear weapons and the threats to North Korea. Painter said is is time for the Cabinet, Congress and the Senate to seriously consider the 25th Amendment and impeachment processes because we cannot risk a mentally unstable person being in charge of our nuclear weapons.
Watch (full transcript below):
Former Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter said, “We have reached a point where the cabinet and the House and the Senate need to look both at the 25th amendment and impeachment provisions of the Constitution.” https://t.co/QMFO80KYCt pic.twitter.com/6NSGGSG9sE
Ã¢ÂÂ Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) January 4, 2018
KATY TUR: Richard, isn’t it remarkable that we’re talking about the president’s mental state and asking honest questions about his mental state? You also have members in congress meeting with psychiatrists to talk about the 25th amendment.
RICHARD PAINTER: Well, I think it’s long overdue that we address this issue. Just a few days ago many of us were terrified to see the president of the United States on Twitter communicating to North Korea that his button — nuclear button is bigger than theirs. This is not mentally stable behavior. You combine that with knew the clear weapons. We are all at great risk, and this is a situation that needs to be addressed by the cabinet and congress as set forth in the 25th amendment. We cannot risk having a president who is mentally unstable and controlling nuclear weapons.
KATY TUR: It is interesting that the president hasn’t had a press conference, an open press conference since last year. Since February of last year. He didn’t have one at the end of the year, and in the book Richard wolf — not Richard wolf, went to the author went to talk about an interview that the president was supposed to do with “60 minutes” that hope hicks decided against because he was repeating himself so much that she needed the questions beforehand, which is why they went with Sean Hannity. Unclear if that is true, but that is what is painted in this book. Julia, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, how much are they going to be looking at this?
RICHARD PAINTER: Well, Katie, a lot of what Robert Mueller’s team has on Trump and the presidency has already been assembled. A book like this would take a lot of corroboration. It’s almost like dealing with a raw piece of intelligence information. If you think about the fact that they are zeroed in not on whether or not the president is fit for office or what it may have been, whether or not there was actually collusion between this campaign and Russia, a lot of this book isn’t good for that. It gives us a window into the questions they might be asking. I thought the press conference gave us a window into the way the trump legal team works. They see their job as keeping the president calm. They’re doing that in the Mueller investigation by trying to undermine Robert Mueller and they’re doing that here by trying to undermine the author, Steve Bannon and the publisher by authorizing the cease and desist. They see it as their job to keep their client calm.
[At that point, the show was interrupted for the live White House press briefing. Tur later returned with Richard Painter and additional guests for a follow-up.]
KATY TUR: Richard Painter, your last take aways of where we stand now.
RICHARD PAINTER: We are in a very dangerous situation. The president does not understand the first amendment of the constitution when he continually attacks the press and is taking concrete actions against the press, including retaliatory action against the parent company of CNN and now we have his lawyers who think they’re going to go into court and stop publication of a book critical of the president. As I say, this is not Russia, this is the United States. He is not a dictator. He doesn’t get that. And he also doesn’t get that he needs to control his anger, particularly when he’s talking about nuclear weapons. And we have reached a point where the Cabinet and the House and the Senate need to look both at the 25th amendment and impeachment provisions of the Constitution because we’re in a situation where we do not have a safe person in the oval office and despite all my disagreements with Mike Pence on a range of issues, at least he would calm things down and we would feel a little safer at night. This book is just one more piece of evidence that this president is not fit for office. It’s just one. As I said, he has done tweets just 48 hours ago that convinced many of us that he’s off his rocker —