Former FBI Director James Comey was cautiously hopeful in a recent interview that President Donald Trump won't be re-elected, saying he felt the American people "will tire of him" because Trump "threatens what is essentially America."
He also revealed his desire for Democrats to nominate a candidate in 2020 who could appeal to the "great middle."
"The rhythm of history, of American history, tells us that eventually, the American people in their great mass will tire of him and come to realize that he threatens what is essentially America, which is our values," he told The Economist podcast host Anne McElvoy.
"You're starting to see a little of that with the treatment of children at the border, but if history is a guide, and I believe it is, the American people will tire of the show, and come to see that whatever trade they convinced themselves was worth it to elect such a person, it isn't in the long run worth it to trade our values for the rhetoric, the promises of a particular person like that," Comey said.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) June 25, 2018
Comey said he wanted to be part of a conversation to "awaken the giant" and have the American people realize a threat to their values "transcends politics."
"Maybe that won't happen. Maybe the fever won't break until a second term, but the lesson of American history is it inevitably breaks," he said.
He stipulated earlier in the interview he couldn't outright predict Trump wouldn't be re-elected.
"I'm not at all confident that he won't be re-elected," he said. "I'm hopeful that the American people wake up to the threat to our values, that he won't be, but there's scenarios in which I could imagine, especially if there are three candidates for president. This may be his strategy to get re-elected with 33, 34 percent of the vote, which represents his base."
"I'm hopeful that the Democrats will pick a candidate who reflects our values in a way that attracts the great middle of American life," he added.
McElvoy wondered if Comey might be overestimating how many Americans are frustrated or angry with Trump, to which he again said Trump could win in 2020.
"Whether it takes four years or six years for the American people to realize what's at stake here, I can't say," he said.
Trump fired Comey last May, setting off a chain of events leading to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the Justice Department's Russia investigation. Comey has since compared Trump's leadership style to a Mafia boss and called him "morally unfit" to hold the presidency, while Trump has called Comey an "untruthful slime ball" and the worst FBI leader ever.
Comey has come under criticism for his role in the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server, with many Democrats—including Clinton—blaming him for her election loss. The Justice Department Inspector General found he made serious errors in judgment throughout the probe, including his late-October letter to Congress announcing a re-opening of the investigation.