Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W Bush from 2005 to 2007, told CNN on Wednesday that the 14th amendment to the US Constitution bars anyone who has supported an insurrection from holding public office.
Mr Painter, who became a Democrat in 2018 to run for Senate after being a Republican for “30 years”, said Mr Trump’s actions in connection to the Capitol riot on 6 January should bar him from running again.
On 6 January, a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol in an attempt to stop the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory after being fed lies by Mr Trump, who falsely claimed that the election had been rigged.
“I will note I was a Republican for 30 years, and one of the most important accomplishments of the Republican Party was the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Mr Painter told CNN. “Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office anyone who has supported an insurrection, such as what happened during January 6th at the Capitol.”
“Donald Trump is disqualified from public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and the Justice Department needs to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute everyone involved in the events of that day,” he added. “We should not have to deal with his candidacy in 2024.”
During the CNN discussion, host Jim Sciutto asked Norm Eisen, former US ambassador to the Czech Republic and the co-counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the first impeachment of Mr Trump, if the House Select committee investigating the Capitol riot could be delayed by former Trump officials evading subpoenas to avoid having to testify.
The committee has been unable to physically serve a subpoena to former Trump Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino for more than a week as he hasn’t been found.
“They can run, but they cannot hide,” Mr Eisen told CNN. “This is not the Trump administration where the president could embark on a stonewalling campaign backed by bogus claims of executive privilege and a Justice Department that wouldn’t enforce the law, creating impunity for those four years.”
“We know what Donald Trump wanted,” Mr Painter said about 6 January. “He wanted to pressure the vice president of the United States to reverse the election results.”
In addition to Mr Meadows and Mr Scavino, former White House strategist Steve Bannon and Defence Department aid Kash Patel have also been sought by the committee for documents and testimony, but are expected to attempt to reject the legal filings.
Mr Trump is pressuring the former aides to not comply with the orders on grounds of executive privilege, the paper reported a source as saying. Claims have reportedly been made that conversations that include sensitive information about what Mr Trump knew about what might happen on 6 January should stay secret.