Former FBI Director James Comey said he had "great faith" in Robert Mueller, but he's still confused by the special counsel's decision to pass the buck on deciding whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.
Comey, who was fired by Trump in May 2017, continued his ongoing feud with the president in his first comments since the release of Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report at an event hosted by the Learning Society of Queens University in Charlotte Tuesday night.
"I think it's very very important that the American people get transparency," Comey told the audience, calling for a full release of the report, according to The Charlotte Observer.
No video or audio recordings of the event were allowed, but a number of reporters were in attendance.
Comey said he wasn't hoping for "a particular result" -- despite the president's penchant for calling him "Lyin' James Comey" on Twitter -- but did have a problem with Mueller not taking a position on obstruction and allowing Barr, a Trump appointee, to decide on filing an indictment.
"I can’t quite understand what’s going on with the obstruction stuff," Comey said at the event. "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."
Mueller wrote in his report that he could not conclude that Trump committed obstruction, but also that the report does not exonerate him.
Barr's letter instead said the decision on the crime of obstruction was passed to himself, and deputy Rod Rosenstein: "The Special Counsel's decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime."
Barr decided the conduct detailed in the special counsel's report did not constitute a crime.
Comey's reference to "politicals" apparently alludes to Barr's relationship with Trump.
On Tuesday night, Comey emphasized the first part of the Mueller report, which details Russian interference in the 2016 election through a sustained campaign of hacking and spreading disinformation on social media.
"The Russians really did massively interfere in the 2016 election, with the goal of helping one candidate and damaging another," Comey told audience members at the Belk Theater. “That was not a hoax.”
And while he said he wasn't hoping for Trump to come under indictment, he did get in a few shots at Trump, at one point saying the president "doesn't know anything about leadership."
Trump has had a number of explanations for why he fired Comey four months into his presidency, but said simply, "He wasn't doing a good job," in his initial comments a day after the dismissal.