Comey alleges Trump repeatedly pressed him for his "loyalty" and directly pushed him to "lift the cloud" of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign's Russian Federation ties.
"I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people's heads", the senator said. He said it was "hard to reconcile" how the FBI concluded the Clinton investigation, while the Trump investigation remained ongoing.
"I was saying that in the case of the investigation of former Secretary Clinton's involvement, he examined it, said it was over and it was done", McCain said.
Former FBI Director James Comey said he made a decision to speak publicly about the probe of Hillary Clinton's email after concluding that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had the appearance of a conflict of interest.
But McCain wasn't satisfied.
He later explained that it felt "silly" to not acknowledge the investigation publicly as both presidential campaigns were speaking publicly about it - but said the Clinton campaign was using "euphemisms" for it, including a "matter".
Comey: Yes as of July the fifth the Federal Bureau of Investigation had completed its investigative work and that's what I was announcing, what we had done and what we had found. This investigation was underway, still going when I was sacked, so it's nowhere near in the same place.
MCCAIN: "That investigation was going on. You reached separate conclusions".
That's when it got really weird.
That's a relatively straightforward bit of politicking, but here's what that question sounded like in real-time, translated into McCain's personal patois of maverick-ese: "You're going to have to help me out here".
McCain continued before Comey said he was "confused" by where McCain was headed. "I think that's a double standard there, to tell you the truth".
He added: "She's one of the candidates, but in her case, you say there will be no charges, and in the case of President Trump, the investigation continues".
Other than McCain's ramblings, the session appeared to go the way many hoped, or wanted. Trump later said "this Russian Federation thing" was a factor in his decision to fire Comey. "That was straight off the Clinton campaign points to always refer to it as a matter and not an investigation". Was he arguing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation applied different standards to the two candidates? "I decided that would be an unfair thing to do because I knew there was no case there".
That's made all the more odd by the fact that, since Election Day (and even going back to the 2016 campaign), McCain has been one of the Senate Republicans most critical of Trump and his administration.
McCain said he "missed an opportunity" to ask a pointed question in today's hearing but would clarify his question and submit it to Comey in writing.