After his questions for former FBI director James B. Comey baffled reporters and spectators, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joked that he’d stayed up too late and attempted to clarify his point.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games. What I was trying to get at was whether Mr. Comey believes that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”
By the time the statement was released, McCain’s meandering back-and-forth with Comey had become a media distraction on a very busy day. Senators on both sides of the hearing room looked on quizzically as Comey struggled to understand McCain’s point. A Fox affiliate in McCain’s home state clipped the video with the headline “Everyone Is Talking About John McCain’s Bizarre Questioning To James Comey.” CNN diplomatically reported that Comey had been confused by McCain’s questions.
“You’re going to have to help me out here,” McCain said at one point. “We’re complete — the investigation of anything former secretary Clinton had to do in the campaign is over, and we don’t have to worry it any more?”
“I’m a little confused, senator,” Comey said.
In the statement, McCain clarified that he was trying to determine a key difference between the handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email server and Comey’s response to President Trump’s questions about the ongoing Russia probe.
“In the case of Secretary Clinton’s emails, Mr. Comey was willing to step beyond his role as an investigator and state his belief about what ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would conclude about the evidence,” McCain said. “I wanted Mr. Comey to apply the same approach to the key question surrounding his interactions with President Trump — whether or not the President’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice. While I missed an opportunity in today’s hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it in writing to Mr. Comey for the record.”