One point I have already made about former FBI Director Comey’s testimony to the Senate Committee is the extremely poor quality of the questioning Comey was subjected to by its members. However one particularly inept line of questions stands out: those asked by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is not even a member of the Senate Committee but who was there by invitation.
The mainstream media is unanimous in calling Senator McCain’s questioning of Comey bizarre, and for once I agree with them.
He seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to get Comey to admit that he had followed some sort of double standard in announcing that there were no charges against Hillary Clinton whilst failing to do so against Donald Trump. Though Comey repeatedly pointed out to him that there was no double standard because the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s misuse of her private email server was completed whereas the Russiagate investigation is still underway, McCain seemed oblivious to this and went on repeating the same line of questions. At one point he even appeared to suggest – ridiculously – that there might have been collusion between the Russians and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
I am completely at a loss to understand the point McCain was trying to make. Senator McCain has sought to clarify it in a subsequent statement, which reads as follows
I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads… 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.
I am not sure that I find this any clearer than Senator McCain’s line of questioning.
For the record I think Hillary Clinton’s failure to provide the FBI with all her emails was an obstruction of justice, and that Comey was wrong to say it was not. However since Comey did not actually accuse President Trump of an obstruction of justice I fail to see what parallel Senator McCain was trying to make.
Anyone can have a bad day, but Senator McCain got himself invited to the Committee – of which he is not a member – precisely so he could question Comey. The fact that Comey was going to give testimony has moreover been known about for weeks, giving Senator McCain plenty of time to prepare his questions. Even if he had nothing original to ask, he could have at least ensured that his line of questioning was comprehensible and coherent.
Apparently in the aftermath of this debacle twitter is full of what the mainstream media gently calls ‘concerns about Senator McCain’s health’.
Speaking for myself, I feel he has long overstayed his time, and he should take the spectacle he made of himself today as the clearest signal that it is time for him to go.