WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain was the last member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to question former FBI director James Comey at Thursday's dramatic hearing. Nearing the end of more than 2½ hours of questioning, McCain focused his line of questioning on two FBI investigations: the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and the 2017 investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.
But several of his questions confused viewers, and seemingly Comey himself, and occasionally became incoherent. He referred to "President Comey," and at times looked confused and frustrated with Comey's answers.
Later Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old Arizona Republican joked that maybe he shouldn't stay up late watching the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people's heads," McCain said.
He said what he wanted Comey to answer was whether or not Trump's interactions with Comey constitute obstruction of justice.
Here's what McCain said at the hearing:
"In the case of Hillary Clinton, you made the statement that there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring a suit against her, although it had been very careless in their behavior, but you did reach a conclusion in that case that it was not necessary to further pursue her," McCain's line of questioning began. "Yet at the same time, in the case of Mr. (Trump), you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. Tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former Secretary Clinton is concerned, and Mr. Trump."
Comey answered that the Clinton email investigation was a completed, closed investigation at the time he announced that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against her last July, while the Russia investigation is still under way and could be for some time.
But McCain wasn't satisfied. He seemed to be arguing that Comey exonerated Clinton, in a sense, but left an investigation looming over President Trump, setting a double standard.
Comey again tried to explain that he only discussed the findings of the Clinton investigation after it was completed.
"That investigation was going on. This investigation was going on. You reached separate conclusions," McCain asserted. Comey explained, for the third time, that the Clinton investigation was about an email server and was concluded in July 2016.
That's when it got really weird.
"You're gonna have to help me out here," McCain said. Comey replied that he was confused. But it boiled down to one point.
"I think it's hard to reconcile, in one case you reach a complete conclusion, and on the other side you have not," McCain said. "I think that's a double standard there, to tell you the truth."
The Clinton email investigation ended more than 11 months ago, while the Russia investigation continues.
Information from the Washington Post and Associated Press was used in this report.