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McCain explains his odd Comey questioning: Up late watching the D'backs

  • McCain appeared confused while questioning former FBI Director James Comey.
  • In his defense, the Arizona Republican said he was up late watching the Arizona Diamondbacks game Wednesday.

Sen. John McCain's seemingly confused questions during the James Comey hearing set off a firestorm on Twitter, but he has an explanation.

One of the most important hearings of McCain's storied career was set up for senators to grill the former FBI director on conversations he had with President Donald Trump. The conversations related to investigations the bureau had into Trump campaign links to Russia and an associated probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

The Arizona Republican has come under fire for a set of questions that seemed disjointed. He at one point made reference to "President Comey," and conflated an FBI investigation into failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's emails with the Trump-Russia matter.

Apparently, the senator didn't get enough sleep.

"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."

McCain added that he was simply following a line of questioning aimed at determining the key point at hand — whether Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice for trying to influence the Flynn issue.

"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," the statement 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."

The exchange got especially tangled with McCain trying to tie the Clinton and Trump investigations:

McCain: You're going to have to help me out here. In other words, the investigation of anything that former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don't have to worry about it anymore?
Comey: With respect to Secretary — I'm a little confused, senator. With respect to Secretary Clinton, we investigated a criminal investigation in connection with her use of a personal email server.

Then there was the "President Comey" remark:

McCain: But you reached the conclusion that there was no reason to bring charges against Secretary Clinton. So you reached a conclusion in the case of Mr. Comey, President Comey — excuse me, the case of Mr. Trump, you have an ongoing investigation. So you've got one candidate who you're done with and another candidate that you have a long way to go. Is that correct?

And then he got testy:

McCain: Yeah, but I'd think it would intensely arouse my curiosity if the president of the United States said we had that thing, you know. I'd like to know what the hell that thing is, particularly if I'm the director of the FBI.

Twitter was merciless.

McCain acknowledged that his questioning was wide of the mark.

"While I missed an opportunity in today's hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it to Mr. Comey for the record," he added.

For the record, the Diamondbacks game went better than the Comey questioning, with a 7-4 defeat of the San Diego Padres.