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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is closing in on the "basic structure" of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser 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 SmithElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Farm bill must protect working lands conservation programs Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates 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.”