WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., released a statement Thursday afternoon acknowledging that his questioning of former FBI Director James Comey “went over people’s heads” and that he shouldn’t have stayed up late the night before watching a baseball game.
McCain, the final senator to question Comey at a much-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, used his seven minutes to pursue a meandering line of questioning blaming Comey for having a “double standard” in how he treated Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McCain also rehashed his investigation into her use of a private email server. McCain appeared to blame Comey for reaching a conclusion on the closed investigation into Clinton and not the open Russia investigation.
“You’re gonna have to help me out here,” the Arizona lawmaker said to Comey. “I think it’s hard to reconcile, in one case you reach a complete conclusion, and on the other side you have not. I think that’s a double standard there, to tell you the truth.”
“I’m a little confused, senator,” Comey said at one point.
McCain’s focus on Clinton was surprising given he’s one of the most outspoken Senate Republicans on the need for a full investigation into the Russia allegations — he’s called for the formation of a special select committee on the issue and said the scandal has reached the level of Watergate and Iran Contra in scope.
In his statement, McCain admitted he “missed an opportunity” to ask about the central question of the hearing — whether President Trump improperly intervened in the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks’ night games.”
The Arizona baseball team was playing against the San Diego Padres until 1:30 a.m. ET last night. The team responded to the senator on Twitter with a shruggie.
McCain explained he was trying to get Comey to say whether he believed the president’s alleged request to “let … go” the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn amounted to obstruction of justice by cornering him with evidence that he had expressed his personal opinion on legal matters in previous investigations.
“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,” he added.
Speaking to reporters after the open hearing, McCain renewed his call for a special select committee in Congress to investigate Russia’s interference in the election and any ties between Russia and the president’s campaign.
“I want a complete investigation, then I will make judgments on the president’s [actions],” he said. He predicted eventually such a committee would be formed, since “every couple of days another shoe drops.”
When asked if he was upset his colleagues don’t agree with his call for a select committee, he demurred. “If I get mad and frustrated about everything I want not happening around here, I would be undergoing psychiatric treatment, which some believe I need anyway,” he joked. “It’s true.”
— Yahoo News’ Andrew Bahl contributed to this report.
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