James Comey calls William Barr's summary of Mueller report "misleading" and "inadequate"

Comey: Mueller report summary "inadequate"

Last Updated May 8, 2019 10:12 AM EDT

In his first television interview since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, former FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary of Mueller's nearly two-year long investigation was "misleading." Comey also blasted Barr's summary of the lengthy probe as "inadequate."

"It certainly gave the impression that Bob Mueller had decided that he was not going to rule on this question of obstruction of justice when that's not what Mueller did. Mueller laid it out and signaled to a future prosecutor after this individual is out of office you ought to take a serious look at charging him," Comey told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday. 

Comey, whose dramatic firing by President Donald Trump led to Mueller's appointment as special counsel, said that Mueller was "trying to be principled and fair" in not explicitly advising the Justice Department to charge Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice and instead chose to abide by a long-held ruling that the DOJ does not indict a sitting president. 

Comey, however, said Mueller's evidence showing 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice committed by the president were "deeply concerning" to him.  

Meanwhile, as Barr claimed during congressional testimony that unauthorized spying on Mr.Trump's campaign had occurred in 2016, Comey maintained that he had "no idea" what Barr was talking about. 

"The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates," Comey said. "We investigated a very serious allegation that Americans might be hooked up with the Russian effort to attack our democracy." 

Comey added that "Republicans need to breathe into a paper bag" when it comes to claims of surveillance, and suggested if a Democratic candidate were talking to foreign adversaries, "they would be screaming for the FBI to investigate and that's all we did."

He later suggested that Barr has quickly evolved into becoming the "lawyer for the president."

"That's not the role for the attorney general, the attorney general is a political appointee but he or she represents an institution that has to be aside from politics so that's been disappointing," Comey told CBSN. 

While congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have declared "case closed" on the Russian interference probe, Comey says that it's time to "move on" by voting in 2020 for the next president.

"The American people now have a clear view of how the president acted. Read the report. If you didn't have a clear enough view of Donald Trump's character and the way he approaches this office, you now do," Comey said. "It's time to move on to the most important thing we do which is vote to decide who should represent us as president."

While Democrats continue to push for Mueller to testify himself on the report's findings, Comey said it would be in the special counsel's best interest to do so.

James Comey says he'd like Mueller to testify about Russia probe

"I'd very much like him to testify. I think he'd be useful in explaining his thinking and his approach, the good news is even he doesn't get to testify, that report is extraordinary and detailed," Comey told CBSN. He added, "I don't know why the president wouldn't want him to, because I thought it was a complete exoneration."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital