Ousted FBI chief James Comey is having trouble wrapping his head around special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to neither charge nor exonerate President Trump on obstruction of justice.
“The part that’s confusing is, I can’t quite understand what’s going on with the obstruction stuff,” Comey told an audience at the Belk Theatre in Charlotte, NC, on Tuesday night, according to NBC News.
“I have great faith in Bob Mueller, but I just can’t tell from the letter why didn’t he decide these questions when the entire rationale for a special counsel is to make sure the politicals aren’t making the key charging decisions,” the former FBI director added.
Comey was overseeing the Russia investigation before he was fired by Trump in May 2017.
While speaking Tuesday, he not only questioned Mueller’s decision to remain mum on the matter of obstruction, but also the choice made by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to not pursue charges.
“The notion that obstruction cases are somehow undermined by the absence of proof of an underlying crime, that is not my experience in 40 years of doing this, nor is it the Department of Justice’s tradition,” Comey said. “Obstruction crimes matter without regard to what you prove about the underlying crime.”
Barr claimed in his summary letter that investigators handling the Russia probe found no evidence of obstruction. He wrote that “to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct.”
Comey tried his best to stay positive about Mueller’s findings on Tuesday night — telling those in attendance that he was “not hoping for a particular result.”
“The good part is that the special counsel was allowed to finish his work and reached a conclusion,” Comey said, noting how that’s “very, very important to this country.”
“The Russians really did massively interfere with the 2016 election with the goal of damaging one candidate and helping the other,” continued the former fed. “That was not a hoax. That was a real thing.”
Comey is scheduled to appear on NBC Nightly News on Wednesday to discuss the Russia probe results. He says he has not yet seen Mueller’s report.