Former FBI Director James Comey is confused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to neither charge nor exonerate President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice, NBC News reported.
“The part that’s confusing is, I can’t quite understand what’s going on with the obstruction stuff,” Comey told an audience of roughly 2,000 people gathered at the Belk Theatre for an event on Tuesday sponsored by Queens University.
“And 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,” Comey said.
Comey, who oversaw the beginning of the Russia probe before he was fired by Trump in May 2017, said he has not seen the Mueller report. 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, New York Post informs.
“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. Obstruction crimes matter without regard to what you prove about the underlying crime,” Comey pointed out.
In a four-page letter on Sunday summarizing Mueller’s findings, the attorney general said since Mueller found no evidence that Trump or anyone in his orbit coordinated with Russians, their intent could not be established.
Barr 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 told the audience that he hoped the public knew he was “not hoping for a particular result” of the Mueller probe.
“The good part is that the special counsel was allowed to finish his work and reached a conclusion; that’s very, very important to this country,” Comey said. “The Russians really did massively interfere with the 2016 election with the goal of damaging one candidate and helping the other. That was not a hoax. That was a real thing.”