Ex-Bush ethics official: Mueller team likely closing in on Trump tax return secrets

A former ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush said Friday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE is closing in on the "basic structure" of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE's family business, the Trump Organization, and suggested that Mueller may find "quite ugly" information in the president's unreleased tax returns.

Speaking on MSNBC's "The 11th Hour," Richard Painter told host Brian Williams that Trump must be getting nervous after the reported immunity deal for the Trump Organization’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

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“Now we have the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization turning state’s evidence," Painter said. "I have to say that every white-collar criminal defense lawyer knows when the chief financial officer turns state’s evidence, everyone in the executive suite is in a lot of trouble because the chief financial officer knows exactly where the money is coming and going.”

“Remember, that every time Bob Mueller gets anywhere near Donald Trump‘s money, Donald Trump starts threatening to fire Bob Mueller," Painter continued.

"It appears that they’re closing in on the basic financial structure of the Trump Organization. Perhaps the reasons why he’s not disclosing his tax returns. And what we may find there is really quite ugly.”

Painter, who lost a bid for Minnesota's state Senate this month to incumbent Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Democrats push election security legislation after Mueller warning MORE (D-Minn.), is a frequent critic of the Trump administration and has predicted that Mueller's investigation will end in jail time over Trump campaign officials' alleged collusion with Russian intelligence.

"We're going to have people going to the slammer over this, the question is who, and how high up this is going to reach ... the notion there's no collusion is just ridiculous," he said in an interview in March.

Painter has also sharply criticized Trump over his rhetoric toward the press, telling The Hill in an interview in May that the president's rhetoric bore similarities to rhetoric used by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

“When he says ‘the fake news,’ ‘the lying press,’ you put that side by side with certain things Hitler said about the press,” Painter said. “It’s very scary rhetoric.”