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Former FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday that President Donald Trump likely committed crimes, including obstruction, and that the Justice Department should looking into indicting him after he leaves office.
Appearing in a CNN town hall, host Anderson Cooper asked Comey if Trump acted with corrupt intent to interfere with the Department of Justice’s Russia probe.
“It sure looks like it’s there with respect to at least a couple those episodes of obstruction,” Comey replied, referencing the findings of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Cooper followed up asking the former FBI director and U.S. attorney if he agreed with a letter by hundreds of federal prosecutors that Trump would already be indicted if he were not president.
Former FBI Director James Comey says the Justice Department ought to "take a serious look" at charging Trump when he's no longer president. #ComeyTownHall https://t.co/8V03BxiKNc pic.twitter.com/R4UMPICzte
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 10, 2019
“I agree,” Comey answered. “No doubt.”
He argued that Mueller was trying to be “principled and fair” by laying out the case regarding obstruction in his report’s Vol. II, but not specifically determining whether he believed the evidence rose to the level that Trump committed a crime.
By Comey’s estimation, Mueller reasoned since he knew Trump could not be prosecuted as president, “‘I ought to just lay out the facts for a future prosecutor,’ it is often overlooked that he says that in the report, ‘so that a judgment can be made after he is president about whether to charge him and the Congress can discharge its duties.’”
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Attorney General William Barr criticized Mueller for his inclusion of Vol. II in the report, CNBC reported.
“I think if he felt that he should not go down the path of making a traditional prosecutive decision, then he should not have investigated,” Barr said. “That was the time to pull up.”
Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, determined the evidence the special counsel’s team presented did not arise to the level that Trump could be found guilty of obstruction of justice.
Asked if he thought the president should be charged after he leaves office, Comey said, “I think the Justice Department will have to take a serious look at that. Whether it’s a wise thing to do to a former president, that’s a bigger question than the facts of the case.”
The former FBI chief was asked whether he felt the president acted with “corrupt intent” to interfere with the FBI’s investigation, and Comey replied the evidence found in the report suggested he had.
#NEW: Fmr FBI Director James Comey says it looks like there is enough evidence to prosecute Pres. Trump for obstruction of justice based on details in the Mueller report, adding the DOJ should "take a serious look" at charging the president when he’s no longer in office. #OANN pic.twitter.com/4Y1jke0nAi
— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) May 10, 2019
Trump responded to Comey’s comments during the CNN town hall, tweeting, “James Comey is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history.
“He brought the FBI down, almost all Republicans & Democrats thought he should be FIRED, but the FBI will regain greatness because of the great men & women who work there!”
James Comey is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history. He brought the FBI down, almost all Republicans & Democrats thought he should be FIRED, but the FBI will regain greatness because of the great men & women who work there!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2019
Asked to comment on the CNN town hall, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that Comey is “in a lot of trouble” regarding his leadership of the bureau.
“This is the guy who, remember, leaked his memos in order to make sure that a Special Counsel was created to investigate the president,” Nunes said on Fox News on Friday morning.
“This is the guy who put an unverified dossier in front of a FISA court …There’s lots of problems with Comey’s story. None of it really matches up with reality.”
Nothing was done “by the book,” the congressman said, in relation to obtaining a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Nunes accused Comey of lying about events surrounding the FBI’s Russia probe.
“Remember when he came before our task force at the end of the last Congress, this is a man who couldn’t answer a question. I think, you know, over 100 times he said things like, ‘I don’t recall,’” Nunes said.
“So whenever put under oath on a body like the legislative body of Congress, the guy couldn’t answer a question. He could do a town hall and make a lot of things up, but look, I think Mr. Comey is in a lot of trouble and he should be. He made a mess of the FBI.”