Former Bush ethics lawyer: Trump’s McCabe tweet ‘a very stupid thing for him to do’

Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE on Thursday for tweets attacking FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, calling the messages Trump sent over the weekend "stupid."

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Painter, who served under President George W. Bush, said that Trump's tweets indicate a "pattern" of obstructing law enforcement.


"In and of itself I don't think this tweet would lead to a criminal charge," Painter said. "The problem is, this is part of a pattern of the president injecting himself into the Russia investigation, first by asking Director [James] Comey for loyalty, pressuring Director Comey to not go after Gen. [Michael] Flynn, and then drop the Russia investigation and firing Comey."

"If this tweet were combined with any other action by the president or people working for him, to retaliate against Director McCabe in his capacity as deputy director of the FBI, then you could get to the point where there was witness intimidation," Painter added.

Painter went on to call Trump's repeated tweets about Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling "stupid" as the probe ensnares former members of Trump's campaign in legal trouble.

"This is an incriminating tweet," Painter said. "It was a very, very stupid thing for him to do, to tweet that out."

Trump on Saturday lashed out at McCabe on Twitter, accusing him of botching the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE's private email server amid reports that McCabe is considering retiring from the FBI in March.

"How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?" the president tweeted on Saturday.