‘They’re acting like dictators’: Republican lawyer snaps at GOP congressman who called for a ‘purge’ at the FBI

Former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter.

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Former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter.
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Screenshot via CNN

  • Former Bush administration lawyer Richard Painter said GOP congressmen and allies of President Donald Trump are “acting like dictators” with their increasing attacks on the FBI.
  • A day earlier, Painter criticized the Trump-appointed FBI director, Chris Wray, and said Wray was “allowing himself to be humiliated” by Trump.
  • Trump and his supporters have called into question the political leanings of the nation’s top law-enforcement officials in what some critics have said is an attempt to discredit the ongoing Russia investigation.

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer who served under George W. Bush, snapped at a Republican congressman Francis Rooney on Wednesday after Rooney suggested there should be a “purge” at the FBI to root out agents who have a political bias.

Rooney made that comment on Tuesday and it follows a long-playing drumbeat of criticism from Trump and his allies who have sought to question the integrity of the nation’s top law-enforcement agencies. And that effort has unfolded as the ongoing Russia investigation gains steam.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Painter said of Rooney, “tell that congressman and all the rest of them who are shooting their mouths off without any knowledge of the facts that they are just flat-out wrong.”

“There’s not going to be any purge of the FBI on his watch,” Painter said, referring to the Trump-appointed FBI Director Chris Wray. “He needs to stand up to these people. They’re acting like dictators.”

Painter continued: “That doesn’t appeal to my type of Republican. That doesn’t appeal to patriotic Americans, to see the FBI attacked that way.”

One day earlier, Painter suggested Wray should “stand up” to Trump and the president’s supporters who have rehashed the president’s criticisms about the FBI. He accused Wray of “allowing himself to be humiliated” by Trump.

Political observers have asserted that Trump’s attacks indicate that he is trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the Russia investigation, which was launched in response to the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election, and to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians

While four people linked to the Trump campaign have been criminally charged so far, the president and several other close associates who have been caught up in the Russia firestorm have denied any wrongdoing.

Watch a portion of Painter’s interview below: