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.
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.”