Comey: US not in a constitutional crisis, but ‘our system is being stress-tested’

Former FBI director James Comey speaks June 8, 2017, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

Former FBI Director James Comey said Thursday he does not believe the United States is in a “constitutional crisis,” differing with comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler earlier this week.

While speaking during a CNN townhall on Thursday night, Comey said “I actually don’t think” the country is in a constitutional crisis, like the two leading Democratic lawmakers have recently asserted.

Rather, Comey, one of President Trump’s fiercest and most vocal critics, said, “I think we’re at a time where our constitutional design, the genius of our founders is going to be tested, and I think it’s up for it.”.

More: Pelosi says America in a ‘constitutional crisis’ over Trump stonewalling

Nadler, D-NY, declared Wednesday that the U.S. has reached a “constitutional crisis” after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe report and its underlying evidence. President Trump has asserted executive privilege over Mueller’s unredacted report.

Nadler said the Justice Department’s actions are an “unprecedented obstruction by the administration which has now vowed to block all attempts at government oversight.”

“There can be no higher stakes,” the New York Democrat also said. “We have talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it.”

Pelosi on Thursday said she agreed with the powerful committee chairman.

“Yes I do agree with Chairman Nadler because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office,” Pelosi said.

Comey, however, said he believes the government’s system of checks and balances is now being “stress-tested.”

Like what you’re reading?: Download the USA TODAY app for more

The former FBI director praised Congress for trying to conduct oversight, but noted that the White House is resisting — with the battle being ultimately fought out in the courts, with all three branches of the federal government involved.

“A crisis would be if the United States courts say ‘No, Mr. President, you must comply with this demand,’ and he says no then,” Comey said. 

“We’re not there. Our system is being stress-tested but it’s up for it,” he concluded.


Read or Share this story:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.