John McCain explains his confounding line of questioning during James Comey’s testimony

Blame baseball.
Blame baseball.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

After confounding the internet and just about everyone else watching his questioning of former FBI director James Comey today (June 8) before the Senate Intelligence Committee, senator John McCain has released a statement explaining his seeming incoherence during the proceedings.

The Arizona Republican pointed a finger at baseball—specifically the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose Wednesday night game against the San Diego Padres ended at roughly 11pm Pacific time, or 2am in Washington. Here’s the full text of McCain’s statement:

“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.

“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.”

McCain on more than one occasion mixed up Comey’s name with that of US president Donald Trump, and seemed to have difficulty keeping straight the status of different FBI inquiries, including one into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and one into former Trump opponent Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Comey himself was confused the questioning, but generally managed to set things straight when McCain seemed to go off course.

McCain, incidentally, is not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee but has ex-officio status on it because of his leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

His awkward exchanges with Comey were among the most talked-about aspects of the highly anticipated hearing. “John McCain” was a trending term on both Facebook and Twitter in the wake of the open proceedings, as was Comey.

Read next: All the ways the right wing is spinning James Comey’s testimony before the US senate