Will Trump Be Impeached? His Aides Committed 'Treason And Betrayal,' Ex-White House Ethics Chief Says

Donald Trump speaking during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. Tom Pennington, Getty

The "I" word was used just a few short months into Donald Trump's presidency by Democratic lawmakers, his starkest opponents and the resistance. For the first time in decades, a president appeared to assume the Oval Office with everyone pondering a single question: will Trump survive an entire four years in office, or is he doomed for impeachment?

The latest bombshell report on his campaign working with Russian government operatives may have put the Trump presidency in its most susceptible position yet, as news broke this week that the first son and other campaign aides met with a top Russian lawyer in an effort to gain classified intelligence from the Kremlin on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the final months of the campaign season.

Related: Here's How Trump Could Actually Be Impeached

Multiple former White House chief ethics lawyers—under Republican and Democratic presidents alike—have come out against the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with the Kremlin in recent weeks. Richard Painter, former chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, went so far as to describe the latest developments as "betrayal and treason" in an interview with BBC Wednesday morning.

Another salute to a patriot: W's ethics chief Richard @RWPUSA Painter on @BBCWorld calls Trump-Russia what it is: Betrayal and TREASON pic.twitter.com/xEroBuwKo0

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 12, 2017

"Our elections are supposed to be decided by the American people without foreign interference," Painter said Wednesday morning. "Someone who works with a foreign government in order to win an election here is really viewed as having betrayed their country. It is treason, whether it's prosecuted under a treason statute or whether we use other statutes. We usually use other statutes."

"Sorry, just to be clear, you're going so far as saying this is treason?" The BBC reporter asked, interviewing Painter on live television.

"It is," he replied. "To undermine your own government, to help accomplish the objectives of a foreign adversary, and it's well known that the Russian government wanted this election to go against Hillary Clinton in favor of Donald Trump."

Trump Jr. Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort reportedly didn't end up garnering any dirty material on the former secretary of state in that meeting, but that's "irrelevant," according to former Chief Ethics Lawyer Norm Eisen, who worked under President Barack Obama.

this is extraordinary: proof that collusion was offered, and accepted. whether actual help/info flowed in 1st meeting or later, irrelevant https://t.co/pS5WVH7PRL

— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) July 11, 2017

"This is extraordinary," he wrote, sharing Trump Jr.'s tweeted sceeen-shots of emails showing him organizing the meeting with Russian operatives. "Proof that collusion was offered, and accepted. Whether actual help/info flowed in 1st meeting or later, irrelevant."

All this raises the question once more: what does this mean for President Trump? The two ethics czars penned an op-ed in the New York Times Tuesday attempting to answer just that.

"What of Donald Trump himself?" Painter and Eisen wrote. "It is important to remember that we are still midstream in the Trump-Russia investigation. Evidence is accumulating, but we do not definitively know yet what crimes, if any, have been committed, or by whom. For that reason, it is now more critical than ever that the investigations by the special prosecutor and Congress be allowed to complete their course without White House or other interference."

The White House currently does not have a chief ethics lawyer: Walter M. Shaub Jr., the previous czar under Trump, resigned earlier this month, telling NYT, "There isn't much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation."

Still, Trump's potential impeachment remains a distant possibility according to several Constitutional law experts, who tell Newsweek the exhaustive political process (which doesn't necessarily result in a president's removal from office) would only begin if the Republican-held House senses a fundamental shift in Republican voters toward opposing the president and his administration.