The Cable

What on Earth Was John McCain Asking James Comey?

The lawmaker, a special invitee to the intel panel hearing, seemed to confuse Russia’s campaign meddling with Clinton’s email inquiry.


During former FBI Director James Comey’s highly anticipated testimony Thursday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) launched into a strange line of inquiry that puzzled Comey and everybody watching the hearing. While questioning Comey, the one-time Republican presidential candidate seemed to confuse the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign with the closed probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Comey took a lot of heat last summer when he broke with Department of Justice precedent to announce that the probe into Clinton’s private email server had been closed with a recommendation of no prosecution. He also caught a lot of heat just before the election when he announced that the probe was being reopened, though that came to nothing.

But Clinton is not understood to be in any way connected to the multiple ongoing investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election; the Trump campaign certainly is, Comey confirmed again on Thursday.

Watch the exchange below.

Here’s a transcript of the exchange.

McCain: … Tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former Secretary Clinton is concerned and Mr. Trump.

Comey: The Clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the FBI had been deeply involved in and so I had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws I understood them. This investigation was underway, still going when I was fired, so it’s nowhere near in the same place. At least it wasn’t when I was —

McCain: But it’s still ongoing?

Comey: Correct. So far as I know. It was when I left.

McCain: That investigation was going on, this investigation was going on, you reached separate conclusions.

Comey: No that one was done.

McCain: That investigation of any involvement of Secretary Clinton or any of her associates is completed?

Comey: Yes as of July the fifth the FBI had completed its investigative work and that’s what I was announcing, what we had done and what we had found.


McCain: Well at least in the minds of this member, there’s a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on…

Social media users, who were glued to the testimony all morning, did not take it easy on the Arizona lawmaker.

And some are asking whey he was even there — McCain is not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In a statement issued after the hearing, McCain said he was attempting to ask “whether Mr. Comey believes that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” the senator said. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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