Former FBI Director James Comey said in an interview on Wednesday that Donald Trump may have obstructed justice when he fired him. While speaking on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Comey shared his thoughts about being removed from his position, in part, because of the Russia investigation.
While Comey chose his words carefully, he responded to Holt’s question about a May 2017 interview with Holt in which Trump said that he let Comey go because of the Russia investigation with speculation that the move could qualify as obstruction.
“I thought that’s potentially obstruction of justice and I hope somebody is going to look at that,” he said.
“Again the president appears to be saying, I don’t know what’s in his head — which is why I can’t reach the conclusion, what he appears to be saying is, I got rid of this guy to shut down an investigation that threatened me.”
At the time, the White House announced that Comey was being fired at the request of the Department of Justice because of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. But Trump contradicted that message a few days later when he told Holt that he had fired the FBI director and had done so, in part, because of the “Russia thing.”
The Mueller report stated that it could not make a determination on whether or not Trump obstructed justice, and Comey says that he doesn’t understand that decision. He explained that it is the job of the special counsel to make a determination, rather than passing it to the attorney general, which is what happened in this case.
Comey told Holt that he sees the Mueller report as vindication for the FBI that it is an independent department seeking to uncover the truth.
“It establishes to all people I hope, no matter where they are in the spectrum, that the FBI is not corrupt, not a nest of vipers and spies, but an honest group of people trying to find out what is true,” he said of the report.
Comey also addressed concerns that since the investigation came up with no new indictments beyond the 34 people that have already been indicted that it shouldn’t have taken place to begin with. Comey said that the investigation was necessary and to fail to do it would have been irresponsible. He added that he thought it was good news that it doesn’t appear any Americans participated in the attempt to subvert American democracy with Russia.