Richard Painter, who served as an ethics lawyer for President George H.W. Bush, suggested on Thursday that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) may be "getting money from the Russians" because the congressman has taken a number of actions designed to derail the investigation into Russia's interference in U.S. elections.
During an MSNBC panel discussion, Painter said that a White House plan to release a Nunes-connected memo smearing the FBI is "undermining our national security."
"There's classified information in this memo," Painter explained. "And the only person who is going to benefit from it being released is Vladimir Putin. He's going to find out more about our sources and how we knew that various associates of Donald Trump were collaborating with the Russians."
"President Trump's own Justice Department has said that the memo is misleading," he continued. "His own FBI, including his own FBI Director, urged that it not be released. This is an abuse of our intelligence apparatus."
"President Trump won't mind if Vladimir Putin wins as long as he wins," host Stephanie Ruhle observed.
Painter reminded the panel that Nunes had a key role in creating the memo.
"Why is Congressman Nunes behaving this way?" Painter asked. "What's he getting out of it? Is he getting money from the Russians? I don't know."
"I don't think he's acting as a stooge for Trump," Painter later added. "He's acting as a stooge for Putin. Because Putin is the only person that's benefiting from all of this. We are destroying our intelligence apparatus for the sake of partisan politics."