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Say What? Senators’ Questions for Comey, a Roll Call Analysis

Trump's attempted influence on FBI investigations topped the list


Republicans did not shy away from surfacing the issue of the president’s potential obstruction of justice during former FBI Director James B. Comey’s appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Eight of nine Republicans who questioned Comey at the Senate Select Intelligence Committee asked about efforts by President Donald Trump to influence the FBI’s investigations into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a Roll Call count of topics raised by the 17 senators present.

Committee Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., started off the line of questioning, asking: “Did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI Investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections?” He immediately followed that question with a similar one: “Did any individual working for this administration, including the Justice Department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?”

Comey replied, “No,” to both.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, who spent much of his time contrasting Comey’s decisions on the Trump case to his actions regarding Hillary Clinton’s private email server, was the only Republican senator to not broach the topic of Trump influencing investigations. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico was the lone Democrat to not ask about it.

McCain and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island attended the hearing, as ex-officio members, because of their roles on Senate Armed Services. 

Republicans more broadly refrained from asking about Trump’s attempt to get a pledge of loyalty from Comey, which the former FBI director said created an “awkward silence” at a private dinner between the two men in January. Only three Republicans asked about the president’s loyalty request, while twice as many Democrats did.

Here’s the categorization of every question asked at Thursday’s hearing, broken down by political party:

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