Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible links between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, is expanding his probe — he's digging into Trump's financials and business dealings.
And while Mueller's investigation is a non-partisan look at the facts relating to the campaign, Trump's White House is trying to discredit Mueller and his team. The president's not happy with Mueller, and his staff are making their disdain for the investigator quite clear.
Today on our show, former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter said Trump and his staff are breaking ethics guidelines by attacking Mueller's character. Painter called for Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's top counselors and defacto spokeswoman, to be fired for her public comments against Mueller. These are the highlights from the conversation, lightly edited:
Host Tom Ashbrook: "Richard Painter, you were the top ethics guy in the White House, is it correct for this president even to be firing across the bow of Robert Mueller in the way he is? Is it ethically right?
Richard Painter: "No, it's not. He should be focusing on doing his job and let this investigation take its course. Robert Mueller isn't running around saying a bunch of stuff, he's just doing his job.
"Kellyanne Conway ought to be fired. She's going out there attacking Robert Mueller publicly, and his staff, that is inappropriate conduct."
"Furthermore, at this point I think Kellyanne Conway ought to be fired. She's going out there attacking Robert Mueller publicly, and his staff, that is inappropriate conduct. She would have lasted about one week in the Bush administration. But we put up with a lie after lie from her and several of the others in that White House. But they crossed the line when they attacked the character of Robert Mueller and his staff in order to try to obstruct justice, so the White House staff had no business doing that. The people are doing that ought to be fired. And the president ought to focus on his job.
Host Tom Ashbrook: "But who, I mean I can't hear anyone in the White House who would be talking in that way. Does he have an ethics adviser right now in your former capacity? Are they talking to President Trump and saying, fire Kellyanne Conway, that is unethical?
Richard Painter: "I have no idea what his ethics adviser is saying to him. The last thing I heard from his ethics adviser was they wrote a letter to the Office of Government Ethics saying the government ethics rules don't apply to the White House staff, which is just flat out wrong. So I don't know what's going on over there in that White House. But once again when you've got spokespeople for the White House who are attacking the character of Robert Mueller and his staff simply for doing their job, that is crossing a line of unacceptable conduct and Kellyanne Conway and the rest of them are doing that ought to be fired.
This segment originally aired during this show.
This segment aired on July 24, 2017.