James Comey says he hopes Trump will not be impeached after Mueller report

Oliver Laughland in New York

James Comey has said he hopes Donald Trump will not be impeached following the completion of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Instead the former FBI director wants the president to suffer a “resounding” loss at the ballot box in 2020.

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As speculation that Robert Mueller is on the verge of completing his almost two-year-long investigation, Comey published an opinion article in the New York Times, writing: “I hope that Mr Trump is not impeached and removed from office before the end of his term.”

The op-ed continued: “I don’t mean that Congress shouldn’t move ahead with the process of impeachment governed by our constitution, if Congress thinks the provable facts are there. I just hope it doesn’t. Because if Mr Trump were removed from office by Congress, a significant portion of this country would see this as a coup.”

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Comey, who was fired by Trump from the FBI in May 2017, triggering the appointment of Mueller, continued to pull no punches in his assessment of Trump’s leadership, branding him a “chronic liar who repeatedly attacks the rule of law”.

But Comey wrote: “I have no idea whether the special counsel will conclude that Mr Trump knowingly conspired with the Russians in connection with the 2016 election or that he obstructed justice with the required corrupt intent. I also don’t care. I care only that the work be done, well and completely.”

Trump has continually criticized Mueller in public, on Thursday evening his campaign sent a fundraising email to supporters, once again branding the Mueller investigation a “Witch Hunt” that had “been orchestrated by loser Democrats and their friends in the Fake News Media”.

Comey said the publication of Mueller’s report should demonstrate to Trump “that the United States has a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism”.

The question of impeachment has gained more traction since the 2018 midterm elections when Democrats regained the House of Representatives with a significant majority and have begun their own investigations into Trump and his circle at a galloping pace.

Nonetheless, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she does not support impeaching Trump unless the reasons are overwhelming and bipartisan.

For impeachment proceedings to succeed they would also need a two thirds majority in the Republican-led US Senate.