Sen. John McCain appeared to perplex his congressional colleagues, former FBI Director James Comey and people watching the highly anticipated testimony on Thursday when it was his turn to ask questions.
McCain, a Republican who has made his interest in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election clear, compared it to the now-completed investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server while Secretary of State.
In response, Comey said he had concluded the Clinton investigation on July 5, 2016, while FBI director and did not know the status of the Russia investigation since he was fired on May 9. But McCain appeared to draw a connection between the two separate investigations, questioning why one investigation was concluded and another wasn’t.
“So both President Trump and former candidate Clinton are both involved in the investigation, yet one of them you said there’s going to be no charges and the other one that the investigation continues,” McCain said. “Well, I think there’s a double standard there to tell you the truth.”
At one point, McCain mistakenly referred to the former FBI director as “President Comey.”
Following confusion over his questions, McCain released a statement clarifying the intent of his questions — and made a self-deprecating joke.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”
He clarified that he intended to ask Comey if he believes his interactions with Trump rose “to the level of obstruction of justice.” He said in Clinton’s case, 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.”
People following the testimony on social media responded with confusion to McCain’s line of questioning. Some interpreted McCain’s questions as suggesting Clinton’s case should not be closed since she was a candidate in the election.
Some on social media had a simple question: Is McCain OK?
And others used the opportunity to poke fun at the senator.
Though McCain himself is not on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was invited to the hearing because he is an ex-officio member of the panel due to his status as chair of the Armed Services Committee.
When Comey was fired on May 9, McCain said in a statement that he was “disappointed” in President Donald Trump’s decision.