A former White House ethics chief said an impeachment of President Donald Trump is likely if it is found the president obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Richard Painter, the former ethics chief under former President George W. Bush, said during an interview with MSNBC that Trump could be in "serious trouble," reports Newsweek.
If the president did fire Comey to hinder the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, that would be considered obstruction and possibly the end of the Trump administration, Painter believes.
"If James Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation, in order to put a stop to it, which the president pretty much admitted ... I think there’s a very strong case for obstruction of justice," said Painter. "The obstruction of justice and the lying may be what puts an end to this White House."
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is spearheading the investigation, has already requested all documents related to Trump's contentious decision to fire Comey, The New York Times reports.
Mueller's office is asking for documents from 13 different areas, indicating the breadth of the investigation.
One request concerns a 2016 meeting between the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian official who promised dirt on election rival Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. initially lied to the press about the reason for the meeting, but email records soon proved the two were going to meet to discuss the upcoming election.
"Apparently the president of the United States was involved in advising his son to tell lies to the press," said Painter, according to Newsweek. "Now, that’s not in and of itself a crime, but the problem is that the subject matter of that meeting was under criminal investigation by Robert Mueller. So if the attempt is to get his son to tell a story that it is a lie to the press, and then lock himself into that lie ... that would clearly be obstruction of justice."
Even if Mueller finds that Trump didn't undermine a federal investigation by firing Comey, and that Trump Jr.'s meeting was not illegal, Painter says there is still a chance that the president could be found guilty and be vulnerable to impeachment.
"There’s obviously collaboration [between Trump and Russia]," said Painter. "They have to stop denying that."
"The only question is whether it was illegal collaboration."