WASHINGTON — Former FBI director James Comey said in a radio interview Tuesday that he hopes President Donald Trump is not impeached because it means American voters would be “let off the hook.”
Comey was fired by the Trump in 2017 and has since been a staunch critic of the president, but reiterated his view that removing Trump from office before his tenure is completed is the wrong move.
When asked about impeaching Trump, Comey answered that “as a citizen, I hope not because I think the American people would be let off the hook."
“A lot of his supporters would think some kind of coup had taken place," Comey said during the interview with California radio station KCRA. "We need to take responsibility for this and vote next November, and show we have a certain set of values and we insist that our leaders reflect those values."
He reiterated he found Trump’s conduct detailed in the Mueller report “deeply concerning” and that he acknowledges that impeachment is ultimately up to Congress.
“We need an inflection point. An impeachment would deprive us of that. We need to show what we stand for,” he continued.
His comments come as House Democrats mull launching impeachment proceedings against Trump after several days of news related to a call the president had with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. Multiple media outlets have reported that Trump asked Zelensky to look into allegations about the Biden family, specifically the former vice president's son.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Trump's reported conduct, and she hinted that it could push her over the edge to support impeachment.
"I've said to people, 'As soon as we have the facts, we're ready.' Now we have the facts. We're ready ... for later today," Pelosi said at the Atlantic's Ideas Summit on Tuesday. She's scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. this evening.
Additionally, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted Tuesday that the whistleblower behind the report would “like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so. We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”
We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 24, 2019
We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.
Comey has made similar comments in the past and also wrote in a New York Times op-ed that his “one hope” was that the President not be impeached before the end of his term, wanting critics of Trump to focus on getting him out of office through the democratic process in 2020.
Comey has also said in the past that he believes Trump would have been charged with obstruction of justice if he was not a sitting president, based on the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe report.
At the United Nations in New York, Trump was asked about reports that Pelosi will announce the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday evening.
“If she does that, they all say that’s a positive for me in the election,” the president said.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, Rebecca Morin, William Cummings, Bart Jansen, John Fritze, David Jackson and Michael Collins.