Ex-Bush ethics chief calls for Steve King expulsion after he posted meme of potential civil war

Richard Painter, a frequent critic or President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE's and former chief ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, on Monday called for Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates Steve King unveils 'Diamond and Silk Act' named for conservative YouTubers MORE (R-Iowa) to be expelled from the House after he shared a meme that imagines a modern day civil war. 

"This is treason," Painter, who switched parties and ran in a Democratic primary for a Minnesota Senate seat last year, tweeted. "Steve King should be expelled from the House immediately." 

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The forceful condemnation from Painter, a former Republican who now says his positions fall in line with the Democratic Party, came just days after King posted a meme featuring an image of what a civil war between Democratic and Republican states may look like. 

“Wonder who would win,” King said in a Facebook post on Saturday, followed by a smirking emoji. The post included an image of Democratic-leaning states fighting with GOP-leaning ones. 

"Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn't know which bathroom to use," the meme reads, which appears to be a reference to Democrats' support of gender-neutral bathrooms. 

It is unclear who produced the original image. King deleted the image from his Facebook account on Monday. 

King's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

Painter launched a challenge against 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.) last year, but ultimately lost the primary in August. 

King has faced frequent scrutiny for his rhetoric regarding issues such as immigration. The Iowa lawmaker was stripped of his House committee assignments earlier this year after asking The New York Times when terms such as white nationalist and white supremacist became "offensive."