Former FBI Director James Comey appeared on a CNN live town hall special Wednesday and made a claim many would find surprising about the "deep state."
Here's the video of his comments:
Former FBI Director James Comey: "I hear this term 'deep state' all the time. There's no deep state, but there is a deep culture and a commitment to ... the fundamental values that are at the core of our Constitution, that runs really deep" https://t.co/OMy326YXEI #ComeyTownHall pic.twitter.com/kgzi11lJLG— CNN International (@cnni) April 26, 2018
Here's what he said
Comey was responding to a question from the audience in Williamsburg, Virginia, about the attitude of the Trump administration to the established government institutions like the FBI.
"In my experience," he responded, "so it's both the five months I worked under President Trump and since, they they view the institutions of justice with contempt. As just another piece on the board. When that piece is doing something that the leadership doesn't like it should be knocked over and dirtied up."
"And that is a terrible place for us to be in as a country," Comey said.
"The FBI is not politicized, that's nonsense," he claimed. "The FBI, though, is being politically attacked. And the reason that is so dangerous and so stupid even if you're a Republican, we need those institutions. All of us need those institutions and there's a reason that lady justice wears a blindfold. So she's not peeking out to see what president this or president that thinks about her decisions."
"Without that, without that blindfold, one of the major pillars of this democracy is lost, and that is, should be deeply worrying to all of us, including Republicans in Congress who know better," he concluded.
"There's no deep state."
After Anderson Cooper offered that perhaps the institutions of civilization are often more sensitive than many believe, he asked, "What gives you the belief that the institutions are strong enough?"
"Because I know them," Comey answered, "and because I know no president serves long enough to destroy the culture that is at the root of them."
"I hear this term, 'deep state' all the time?" he continued. "There's no deep state."
"But there is a deep culture - and a commitment to the rule of law, equal protection of the laws, the fundamental values that are at the core of our Constitution that runs really deep in the FBI, the Justice Department as a whole, the intelligence community, the United States military services." he explained.
"It is the ballast that gives me comfort," he said, then offering a warning that they can be damaged if people don't speak up when the president is attacking them.
What is the "deep state"?
President Trump has often blamed the "deep state," which can be defined as those elements in the government who are hostile to the president and his policies, and leak sensitive government information in order to damage his presidential power and administration.