Former FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that he is “sure” the special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election will examine whether or not President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
During his highly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said that Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who was appointed to run the investigation into Russian election-meddling, will consider Comey’s assertion, denied by Trump, that the President asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
When asked if Trump was “trying to obstruct justice,” Comey did not offer his own judgement on Trump’s intent, but said he was “sure” Mueller would look into it.
“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try to understand what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense.”
Mueller has wide-ranging authority to investigate whether there was collusion, but also possible offenses that arose in the course of the investigation. Comey has confirmed that while he was still FBI Director he told Trump the President himself was not under investigation at the time.
But Comey’s assertions since then, which emerged in news reports in the weeks following his firing by Trump and were confirmed for the first time by him in prepared testimony released Wednesday, have raised the specter that Trump obstructed justice. It was unclear whether Comey had firsthand knowledge of Mueller’s intent when he made the comment. But multiple reports have also indicated that Comey vetted his testimony with Mueller to make sure it would not interfere with the investigation.