ARIZONA NEWS

Read the full transcript of Sen. John McCain’s questioning of James Comey

Jun 8, 2017, 10:43 AM | Updated: Mar 1, 2018, 4:03 pm
(AP Photos)...
(AP Photos)
(AP Photos)

Editor’s note: U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was one of a number of senators to question former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate hearing on Thursday.

The entire interaction between McCain and Comey is transcribed below. Nothing has been changed.

McCain: “In the case of Hillary Clinton, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to bring a suit against her although it had been very careless it their behavior although you did reach a conclusion in that case that it was not necessary to further pursue her yet at the same time in the case as Mr. Comey, you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. Tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former Secretary Clinton is concerned and Mr. Trump.”

Comey : “The Clinton investigation what went on was a completed investigation that the FBI had been deeply involved in and so I had an opportunity to understand all the facts and imply those facts against the law as I understood them. This investigation was underway, 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 I left.”

McCain: “That investigation was going on, this investigation is 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. Of July 5, the FBI completed its investigative work and that’s what I was announcing – what we had done and what we had found.”

McCain: “Well, at least in the mind of this member, there are a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that, as you mentioned it’s a ‘big deal’ as to what went on during the campaign so I’m glad you concluded that part of the investigation but I think that the American people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly because you just emphasized the role that Russia played and, obviously, she was a candidate for president at the time, so she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news – as you just described it, ‘big deal’ – took place. You’re going to have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete 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: “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…”

McCain: “I understand.”

Comey: “…That’s the investigation I announced the conclusion of on July 5.”

McCain: “So at the same time you made the announcement there would be no charges brought against then Secretary Clinton for any activities involved in the Russia involvement and/or engagement in our election. I don’t quite understand how you could be done with that but not completely done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the outcome of our election.”

Comey: “No, I’m sorry. We’re not – at least when I left, when I was fired May 9 – there was still an open, active investigation to understand the Russian efforts and whether any Americans worked with them.”

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 – er, President 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?”

Comey: “I don’t know how far the FBI has to go, but yes. The Clinton email investigation was completed, the investigation of Russia’ efforts in connection with the election and whether there was any coordination and, if so, with whom between Russia and the campaign was ongoing when I left.”

McCain: “You just made it clear on what you said this is a ‘big deal.’ I think it’s hard to reconcile. In one case, you reach a complete conclusion and, on the other side, you have not. And in fact, there’s obviously a lot more there, as we know, as you called it a ‘big deal.’ She’s one of the candidates but, in her case, you say there would be no charges, and in the case of President Trump, the investigation continues. What has been brought out in this hearing is more and more emphasis on the Russian engagement and involvement in this campaign. How serious do you think this was?”

Comey: “Very serious. But I want to be clear: We have not announced – and there was no predication to announce – an investigation in whether the Russians may have coordinated with Secretary Clinton’s campaign.”

McCain: “They may not have been involved with their campaign, they were involved with the entire presidential campaign, obviously.”

Comey: “Of course. Yes, sir. And that is an investigation that began last summer and, so far as I’m aware, continues.”

McCain: “So both President Trump and former candidate Clinton are both involved in the investigation, yet one of them, you said, there would be no charges and the other one, the investigation continues. Well, I think there’s a double-standard there, to tell you the truth. Then, when the president said to you he talked about the April 11 phone call, and he said ‘Because I’ve been very loyal to you. Very loyal. We had that thing, you know.’ Did that arouse your curiosity as to what ‘that thing’ was?”

Comey: “Yes.”

McCain: “Why didn’t you ask him?”

Comey: “It didn’t seem to me to be important for the conversation we were having to understand it. I took it to be some – an effort to communicate to me that there is a relationship between us where I’ve been good to you, you should be good to me.”

McCain: “But I 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.”

Comey: “I get that, senator. Honestly, I’ll tell you – this is speculation – but what I concluded at the time is in his memory he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner and was preparing himself to say, ‘I offered loyalty to you. You promised loyalty to me,’ and, all of a sudden, his memory showed him that did not happen and I think he pulled up short. That’s just a guess, but I have a lot of conversations with humans over the years.”

McCain: “I think I would have had some curiosity if it had been about me, to be honest with you. So, are you aware of anything that would believe you to believe that the president or members of the administration or members of the campaign could potentially be used to coerce or blackmail the administration?”

Comey: “That’s a subject for investigations, not something I can comment on sitting here.”

McCain: “But you reached that conclusion as far as Secretary Clinton is concerned, but you’re not reaching a conclusion as far as this administration is concerned? Are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that information exists that could coerce members of the administration or blackmail members of the administration?”

Comey: “That’s not a question I can answer, senator.”

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Read the full transcript of Sen. John McCain’s questioning of James Comey