Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Why James Comey Doesn’t Think Donald Trump Should Be Impeached

"People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values."

James Comey did not hide his concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness to be US president in his book A Higher Loyalty to be released April 17—nor did he in his interview with George Stephanopoulos which aired Sunday night on ABC television.

Discussing Trump, the former head of the FBI said:

I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president.

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement.

Despite Trump’s attacks on Comey, whom the president fired, Comey doesn’t consider himself someone dedicated to bringing the president down. On the contrary: Comey doesn’t even think Trump should be impeached.

This is because he believes the American people can’t be left “off the hook,” and instead need to take responsibility for removing Trump through an election. “People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values,” said Comey. Only voting, he suggested, can deliver a worthy defeat.

Impeaching the president, Comey believes, would be a quick fix to a larger problem: “You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and Independents treasure,” Comey said. “That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short circuit that.”

Comey continued:

I think we owe it to each other to get off the couch and think about what unites us. I think about the people who supported Trump, and continue to support Trump.

A lotta them come from families with a proud history of military service. And that’s a wonderful thing. What did their fathers and grandfathers fight and die for? Not for immigration policy. Not for a tax policy. Not for Supreme Court justice. They fought and died for a set of ideas. The rule of law. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The truth.

That’s what they fought and died for. And at some point, we have to focus on that and make sure that whoever’s leading us embodies those and we judge that leader by their tether to those values. Then we’ll go back to fighting like cats and dogs about all the things we normally fight about.