In Disagreement With Top Democrats, James Comey Says U.S. Is Not In Constitutional Crisis

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey leaves the Rayburn House Office Building.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

In an interview broadcast Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey said that the United States is not in a constitutional crisis as top Democrats have alleged, The Hill reports.

“I actually don’t think so,” Comey said when asked about the issue.

“We’re in a time where our constitutional design, the genius of our Founders, is going to be tested, and I think it’s up for it,” he explained.

As NBC News reported, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler was the first Democrat to declare that the nation is in a constitutional crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democratic politician in the country, backed her colleague, agreeing that the United States is indeed in what is being described as a full-blown conflict in the function of the government.

“Yes, I do agree with Chairman Nadler, because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office,” Pelosi told the press, drawing a parallel between Donald trump and Richard Nixon, but stopping short of calling for impeachment. Echoing many of her previous statements, Pelosi said that impeachment would “divide” the country.

What the Democrats are taking issue with is the administration’s — Attorney General William Barr’s, in particular — handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report. Democratic leaders have long alleged bias, accusing Barr of acting as Trump’s personal lawyer, instead of being impartial.

As NBC News notes, House Democrats are now considering holding a “package” of contempt votes, having previously agreed to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to release the un-redacted Mueller report. But according to Pelosi, even though the country is currently in a constitutional crisis, more investigations are needed before moving forward with impeachment.

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“This is very methodical. It’s very Constitution-based, it’s very law-based, it’s very factually based,” she explained, adding that the Democratic initiative is about “patriotism,” and not about excreting pressure on the White House.

But according to James Comey, the situation does not resemble a constitutional crisis yet. For the country to be in a crisis of such proportions, according to the former FBI director, the president would have to refuse to obey United States courts. The legislative and the executive branch, according to Comey, will fight their legal battles in the courts.

“A crisis would be if the United States courts say, ‘No, Mr. President, you must comply with this demand’ and he says, ‘No.’ We’re not there,” Comey said.

He noted, however, that the American political system is being “stress-tested.”