Sunday on ABC's "This Week," former NJ Gov. Chris Christie explained why it would be wrong for special counsel Robert Mueller to publicly reveal his reasoning for not issuing criminal charges against individuals that he has chosen not to indict.
"He is not going to pull a Jim Comey here," Christie said about Mueller. "If you charge, you can say whatever you are willing to an indictment and have a grand jury sign off on, if you don't charge, keep quiet. You're not supposed to talk about people you're unwilling to charge."
"That was my principal objection to what Jim Comey did to Hillary Clinton. He killed Hillary Clinton over the summer of 2016 without being willing to charge her. That's wrong. That's not what the Justice Department does," Christie added.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other question is, Chris, how much we’re going to see of what Mueller wrote. You know -- you know Robert Mueller fairly well. The other question is how would he lay out these arguments in a report?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the way he's conducted himself over the last 22 months gives you a really good indication of how he’s going to lay it out, which is going to be carefully and like a traditional prosecutor.
He is not going to pull a Jim Comey here. He's not going to go out...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he already hasn't done that. You haven't seen a press conference.
CHRISTIE: Well, that's it, but I mean now the report is the ultimate thing...
DOWD: Or a Ken Starr.
CHRISTIE: Or a Ken Starr, for sure. I mean, I think either one of those. And I think that, you know, I think it is, as Donna said, a tribute to Bob Mueller. I've been saying all along, as you know on this show, that he's a professional. And he cares about the justice system and prosecution that he's going to bring are going to be ones that he believed he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, nothing more.
But here's the second part, and I think -- glad Matt brought up Ken Starr, remember what this special counsel statute is in response to, it's in response to the Ken Starr report. Congress said they didn't like what Starr did in laying out all that detail against people that were never going to be charged with a crime, and they made all of this absolutely dependent now upon the discretion of the attorney general. The attorney general...
STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn't prohibit anything from...
CHRISTIE: No, but it gives him discretion, George. And that's really important. And Bill Barr made that clear in his confirmation hearings.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's one of the questions I wanted to follow up with you. You are a former prosecutor. There are a lot of different reasons a prosecutor may choose not to prosecute something -- you may not want to use classified evidence, you might have compelling evidence but it might not be good enough to prosecute. Not prosecuting is not the same as exoneration.
CHRISTIE: Well, let me tell you something, George, if you're any of the people who were being rumored to be indicted, you're going to take it as exoneration, because you're presumed innocent in this country. And absent any charges being brought and proven, you are innocent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Of a crime, but not necessarily of improper behavior.
CHRISTIE: Well, that's a whole different -- that's a political standard. Now, that's different.
But I think that -- I also think it would be wrong for him to explain, as to people who are not being charged, why he didn't charge them. Your job, he's part of the Justice Department, remember. He was appointed by the deputy attorney general. He works under Justice Department rules. And those rules, except for Jim Comey, apply this way. If you charge, you can say whatever you are willing to an indictment and have a grand jury sign off on, if you don't charge, keep quiet. You're not supposed to talk about people you're unwilling to charge.
And that's, to me, was my principal objection to what Jim Comey did to Hillary Clinton. He killed Hillary Clinton over the summer of 2016 without being willing to charge her. That's wrong. That's not what the Justice Department does.