Former FBI Director James Comey says he does not know what special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election will look like, but he also doesn't care whether it implicates President Trump.
"I have no idea whether the special counsel will conclude that Mr. Trump knowingly conspired with the Russians in connection with the 2016 election or that he obstructed justice with the required corrupt intent. I also don't care," Comey, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday.
"I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values will have been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law."
Mr. Trumpnearly two years ago, an action that prompted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller, himself a former FBI director. The president has routinely described Mueller's investigation as a politically biased "witch hunt" without basis in fact, but said Wednesday the report should be released to the public.
Comey has been unabashed in his criticism of Mr. Trump. But in his Thursday op-ed, he also said he hopes Mr. Trump isn't impeached because of how it would be perceived by the president's supporters.
"I hope that Mr. Trump is not impeached and removed from office before the end of his term. I don't mean that Congress shouldn't move ahead with the process of impeachment governed by our Constitution, if Congress thinks the provable facts are there. I just hope it doesn't," Comey wrote.
"Because if Mr. Trump were removed from office by Congress, a significant portion of this country would see this as a coup, and it would drive those people farther from the common center of American life, more deeply fracturing our country."
According to Comey, the best thing Mueller's report can do is prove that the U.S. justice system remains fair and impartial while upholding the rule of law. But that doesn't mean Comey has changed his opinion of the president.
"Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I'm not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I'm also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to 'clear' the president. I'm not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work."