For more than two hours it seemed as if Republicans and Democrats were watching separate hearings. That was until Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took his turn posing questions to former FBI Director James Comey.
“You’re going to have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete, the investigation of anything former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over, and we don’t have to worry about it anymore?” McCain asked.
“I’m a little confused, senator,” Comey said.
He wasn’t the only person ‘confused’ by the Arizona Republican’s line of questioning.
Coming from the right, Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review noticed a consensus emerging on Twitter:
“Unanimity in my timeline for first time during the hearings: McCain isn’t making sense.”
Coming from the left, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow came to the same conclusion:
“Whatever you think of the questions from every other Sen on the committee, they all made sense. McCain’s remarks were a departure from that,” she tweeted.
As McCain continued to ask about the Clinton probe, Dan Pfeiffer, former adviser to former President Barack Obama, asked simpy: “What is McCain talking about?”
Others observed the confused countenances of fellow senators.
Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff noted McCain’s colleagues looked lost too, writing, “Senators look very puzzled by McCain’s questioning.”
Guy Benson of the conservative Townhall.com, wrote, “Confused by McCain’s line of questioning here.”
It was not long before McCain became the target of comedic barbs.
McCain, though, heard the Twitter taunting loud and clear, and later addressed the confusion in a written statement.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads. Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games,” McCain said, in a joking reference to his home state’s baseball team.
“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. 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,” he continued.
McCain said he was attempting to get Comey to use the same approach “surrounding his interactions with President Trump—whether or not the President’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice,” as he used in investigating Clinton’s actions.
McCain said he intends to submit further questions to Comey in writing for the record.
McCain is not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but was invited to attend because he is considered an “ex officio” member by virtue of being chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.