Sen. John McCain's confusing questioning of former FBI Director James Comey

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Sen. John McCain (left) says his sometimes confusing line of questions to fired FBI Director James Comey was aimed at getting Comey to say whether he believes President Donald Trump had obstructed justice. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Sen. John McCain (left) says his sometimes confusing line of questions to fired FBI Director James Comey was aimed at getting Comey to say whether he believes President Donald Trump had obstructed justice. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: AP Photo) (Source: AP Photo)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Bizarre.

Confusing.

Strange.

Those are some of the words used to describe Sen. John McCain's questioning Thursday of former FBI Director James B. Comey during a highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

[RELATED: Comey says he was fired because of Russia investigation]

While much of the buildup to this dramatic congressional hearing was centered Comey's personal interactions with President Donald Trump, McCain focused on the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

After more than two hours of testimony from Comey, McCain was the last senator to question the former FBI director and at times appeared unfocused and confused.

[WATCH: McCain questions Comey]

McCain pressed Comey on how the FBI could complete its investigation into Clinton while a separate probe into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russians still remains open.

In response to that line of questioning, Comey said, "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."

Perhaps the most confusing moment came when McCain referred "President Comey."

The 80-year-old Arizona Republican's performance during the widely-watched Comey hearing lit up social media sites, where many observers posted their confusion or criticism. 

Of the 3.6 million Tweets sent during the hearing, "Sen. McCain questions Comey" was the most mentioned, according to @TwitterData.

Following the hearing, McCain issued a statement suggesting that we was tired. 

“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 says his sometimes confusing line of questions was aimed at getting Comey to say whether he believes President Donald Trump had obstructed justice.

“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. 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.” 

Comey has refused to give an opinion on the obstruction question, saying that's special counsel Robert Mueller's job.


[PDF: Comey's Statement for the Record]

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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