A top ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush warned that “people are going to the slammer” in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s probe into Russian election interference.

Richard Painter said on CNN’s “OutFront” on Thursday that he has no doubt that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

He pointed to a new court filing by Mueller alleging that former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates was knowingly in contact with a Russian intelligence agent during the campaign.

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Painter called the revelations of Russian contacts that have been made so far “probably only the beginning” of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

He also said that Mueller will have to determine "whether there was illegal collusion, whether it was criminal."

“A lot of people are lying about their contacts with the Russians and that’s criminal, so we’re going to have people going to slammer over this,” he said.

“The question is who and how high this is going to reach in respect to criminal conduct. But the notion of no collusion is ridiculous because there is collusion and we know it by now,” Painter said.

Painter’s comments come after a CNN report that Mueller’s team sought Gates's help in investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Gates pleaded guilty to charges in Mueller's probe last month as part of a plea deal with the special counsel. He had initially plead not guilty when first charged last year, but is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE has repeatedly denied that his campaign coordinated with Russia, labeling Mueller's probe a "witch hunt."