The most bizarre part of James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today was an exchange between the former FBI Director and Senator John McCain.
The Republican Senator from Arizona seemed confused as to why the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server had concluded last year, but the investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign was ongoing.
This exchange highlights the general confusion during McCain’s questioning:
McCain: Tell me the difference between your conclusion as far for Secretary Clinton is concerned and Mr Trump.
Comey: The Clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the FBI had been deeply involved in so I had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws I understood them. This investigation [Trump] was underway and was still going when I was fired so it’s nowhere near in the same place.
McCain: But it’s still ongoing?
Comey: Correct, as far as I know. It was when left.
McCain: That investigation was going on. This investigation was going on. You reach separate conclusions.
Comey: No, that one was done.
McCain: That investigation of any involvement of Secretary Clinton or any of her associates is completed?
Comey: Yes, as of July the 5th. The FBI completed its investigative work and that's when I announcing what we had done and what we had found.
McCain: Well, at least in the mind of this member there’s a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned it’s a, quote, “big deal” as to what went on during the campaign. So, I’m glad you concluded that part of the investigation but I think the American people have a whole lot of questions out there particularly since you just emphasized the role that Russia played and obviously she was a candidate at the time and clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news as you just described it, “big deal,” took place.
You’re gonna have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete [sic] the investigation of anything that for Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign and we don’t have to worry about it anymore?
Comey: With respect to Secretary Clinton — I’m a little confused, Senator — with respect to Secretary Clinton, we investigated a criminal investigation in relation to her use of a personal email server.
McCain: I understand.
Comey: And that's the investigation I announced the conclusion of on July 5th.
This line of questioning went on for the entirety of McCain’s questioning. Political reporters seemed just as confused as Comey. McCain’s line of questioning didn’t really track logically. He was wondering why one investigation, into Clinton’s use of a private email server was completed while a completely unrelated investigation into a foreign adversary trying to manipulate the U.S. presidential election was still ongoing. Clinton’s investigation involved a much smaller set of factors and players, and her use of a private email server transpired long before the alleged Russian interference, while she was Secretary of State.