Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Thursday that the “most explosive” part of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was his admission that he directed the leaking of information about his meetings with President Donald Trump.
Comey told senators he asked a friend to release details of memos he wrote about the meetings to the press after Trump fired him in May and warned on Twitter that there may be “tapes” of their conversations. Comey indicated he hoped that revelation would lead to the appointment of a special counsel in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Soon after the New York Times reported on those meetings, the Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel.
“I don’t know what to make of it, other than the fact that he wanted a special prosecutor because he’s upset that he was fired,” Rubio said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Comey’s admission to the leak was “very interesting.”
“That’s the way this town works,” he shrugged.
McCain also attempted to explain his line of questioning at the end of the hearing which left many observers puzzled. He seemed to suggest it was inappropriate to close the investigation of Clinton’s email server while keeping the Russia investigation tied to Trump’s campaign open.
“I don’t understand why in one case you can say there’s no reason to continue and he says that the Russian engagement was a big deal, and I agree with him,” he said. “It seems to be a double standard.”
McCain later issued a statement recognizing that his questioning “went over people’s heads.”
“Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games,” he said.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., praised Comey for answering questions about conversations with Trump that current intelligence officials dodged at a hearing the previous day.
“The contrast has been palpable,” he said. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers had refused to discuss details of their conversations with Trump at a hearing Wednesday.
Heinrich acknowledged that many of these allegations come down to Comey’s word against Trump’s, saying that one needs to weigh the two men “in their entirety.”
“You look at the career of this former director of the FBI who has had a pretty incredible track record of trying to get his comments accurate in front of the Congress time and time again,” he said. “You look at a president who seems to have no fidelity to truth or fiction and jumps from one to the other seemingly randomly from day to day.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., called Comey “very open and very engaging.”
Manchin said he hoped to learn more in the classified session, but so far, Comey’s testimony had not surprised him.
“Pretty much as expected,” he said. “He’s following along the script.”