James Comey, in this memoir, comes across as a pretty thoughtful person who spends a lot of time considering other people’s perspectives (as opposed to just projecting his own). Of course its fascinating to see how Comey got caught in the middle of the 2016 presidential election. And of his many critics, and the incredible amount of shit he took from people on BOTH sides, he wryly points out that “most of them would do what would be best for their favorite team.” As opposed to things like, oh, rules of law, truthfulness, or a higher loyalty (hence the title).
And he said that one particular tweet captured the feelings of the times: “That Comey is such a political hack. I just can’t figure out which party.” Ha ha.
Right or wrong with some of the decisions he made, Comey comes across as a very questioning person who sincerely wanted to do the right thing, what was right for the country. While surrounded by people screaming for “their side.” Period. I don’t question Comey’s integrity. But I’m not completely sold on his intelligence and judgment. Admittedly Comey was in a difficult position. A “damned if you do damned if you don’t” position. The fact that, at various times, he was getting equal shit from both the Democrats AND the Republicans probably speaks volumes. Ha ha
I DID question the wisdom of his decisions. Announcing an FBI investigation into Hillary’s emails just days before the election was probably bad judgment. It tainted Hillary at a crucial juncture. And since the public wouldn’t get the full results until AFTER the election, it was like a “cloud of suspicion” that couldn’t be refuted.
Comey spends a lot of time in the book debating about — and explaining — why he made that fateful decision. To announce the FBI investigation of Hillary’s emails days before the election. Basically he felt that if there WAS something seriously damaging in Hillary’s emails, it would have looked like a “cover-up” by the FBI if they didn’t publicly announce the investigation.
But heres the dumb part. Comey — like most people — assumed Hillary was gonna win by a landslide anyways. So he felt it wouldn’t make any difference anyways.
One oddity in the book. Comey — who is 6-foot-8 — claims he was constantly bullied when he was in high school. I went to the same high school as Comey (Northern Highlands) and I was one of the smallest kids in my class but I never got bullied. Sheesh.
The part where Comey meets Trump for the first time right after the election is particularly fascinating. One thing about Comey, he has a well-developed ability to “read” people — a trait you’d expect from a lifelong investigator. And he notices the subtle nuances of people’s behavior that reveal their character (for example Comey noticed something about Trump that has always deeply disturbed me — in the thousands and thousands of hours that Trump has been captured on video, he couldn’t find a single example where Trump laughed). Comey is particularly scathing writing about Trump’s character. Virtually every sentence screams out the unspoken message: HE’S UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT!!
Comey meets Trump and his team for the first time at Trump Tower. And seeing them all sitting there, Comey couldn’t shake his first impression that they reminded him of a bunch of La Cosa Nostra members hanging out at one their clubs. And, like the Mafioso, Trump constantly conveyed the message: You’re either part of our family or you’re the enemy. At one point — to Comey’s great surprise — Trump even asked the FBI director how they should spin this meeting to the press — already assuming Comey was part of his team.
At a second meeting Trump repeatedly tells Comey he expects “loyalty” from him, and implies that he’ll fire him if he isn’t sufficiently loyal. Comey responded that his only loyalty was to “honesty.” And repeatedly tried to explain to Trump that the FBI by its nature must remain independent from the White House, and couldn’t be involved in partisan politics. An explanation that went in one ear and out the other with Trump.
During a third meeting, Comey actually dared to disagree with one of Trump’s opinions. “At that remark, Trump stopped talking altogether. I could see something change in his eyes. A hardness, a darkness. He looked like someone who wasn’t used to being challenged or corrected. The meeting was done.” Later at FBI headquarters Comey told his staff, “I probably ended any personal relationship with the president with that move.”
So there you go.