Sen. John McCain acknowledged his confounding questions at the highly anticipated testimony of former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday, clarifying he intended to ask for Comey’s judgement on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
McCain’s opportunity to ask questions was met with confusion by his congressional colleagues, Comey and viewers as he appeared to try to draw connections between the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and its now-concluded investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State. (At one point, McCain mistakenly called the former FBI director “President Comey.”)
In a statement after the hearing, McCain clarified he had intended to ask whether Comey believed Trump’s interactions with him could be considered obstruction of justice. He said he referred to the Clinton investigation to use an example of how Comey stepped “beyond his role as an investigator” when, on July 5, 2016, he recommended that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Clinton.
“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,” McCain said.
He said he plans to submit his question in writing to Comey “for the record.”
But McCain also used the opportunity to make a self-deprecating joke, poking fun at himself for what he said was the impact of a late night of watching baseball.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said after the hearing. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres Wednesday night, 7-4.
But while Comey did not have the opportunity to answer McCain’s intended question, he did say he was “sure” the special counsel overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election will examine whether or not Trump obstructed justice.
“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try to understand what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense.”