The Trump presidency is only days old and already there are serious moves to have him forced out of office, and the man leading the charge is from the President’s own political party.
Richard Painter is a lawyer who advised former president George W Bush on ethics. He could not bring himself to vote for Donald Trump, admitting he supported instead Mr Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
He has many concerns about the new President – his attitude to the media, his pledge to ban Muslim immigration, and deporting Mexicans – but he is really zeroing in on the billionaire businessman’s connections to international companies and countries.
“What is unconstitutional is for anyone holding a position of trust within the United States government to be receiving profits and other benefits from dealing with foreign governments and companies controlled by foreign governments,” Mr Painter told ABC’s 7.30.
Unconstitutional? Yes, according to Mr Painter. He says other constitutional lawyers support his view. That means Mr Trump could face impeachment proceedings.
Mr Painter said Mr Trump could also be exposed in ways other than those relating to his business dealings.
“By having the President’s name on buildings, that is a potential terrorist target,” he said.
“There are complications that could come up with the President’s investments overseas in countries where there’s tensions and the United States has to resolve – for example a dispute between Russia and Turkey.
“We shouldn’t have a president invested in either Russia or Turkey. He should not have a dog in the hunt.”
‘Who owns the businesses’
Mr Trump has distanced himself from his business interests, handing control of his companies to his sons. Mr Painter maintains that is not good enough.
“The key issue is who owns the businesses? If he owns the businesses, then he is in receipt of the foreign government money that is paid to the businesses and that’s a violation of our constitution.”
Mr Painter conceded impeachment was highly unlikely.
He said he expected Mr Trump would “figure this out”.
But Mr Painter said that did not mean just sorting out his business affairs – the President will need to be careful in all areas of his administration.
“That also means the provisions of the constitution that protect Americans from discrimination based on their religious faith,” he said.
“We are not going to be keeping a registry of Muslims in America, we are not going to be deporting Muslims, we are not going to be barring people from coming into our country because of their religion.”
Of course, Mr Trump won office by pledging to, “make America great again”. He rallied many of his supporters by targeting those groups he believes are a threat to the US.
Mr Painter admitted he did not vote for Mr Trump, despite his strong ties to the Republican Party.
But, he said Mr Trump was his President – the President for all Americans – and he must be held to account.
“He will conform with the constitution or we will remove him. That is done in the United States,” he said.