James Comey is back and he’s looking for some revenge. The former FBI director, who was unceremoniously dumped by President Trump, is releasing a tell-all book titled, “A Higher Loyalty.” Apparently, the book focuses on criticisms of Trump. Already, multiple excerpts have made their way into the press.
Needless to say, the remarks haven’t exactly been flattering. Not that there is anything wrong with that. However, some of Comey’s remarks call his motives into question. Is Comey looking to shed light on an important issue, or is he simply being petty and vindictive?
My book is about ethical leadership & draws on stories from my life & lessons I learned from others. 3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint. I hope folks read the whole thing and find it useful.
— James Comey (@Comey) April 15, 2018
We’ll have to wait until the book drops to answer that question with confidence, but several of the excerpts (italicized) are certainly eye-popping and often for all the wrong reasons.
“[White House Chief of Staff John Kelly] said he was sick about my firing and that he intended to quit in protest. He said he didn’t want to work for dishonorable people who would treat someone like me in such a manner. I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”
This comment isn’t quite outrageous, at least not on the face of it, but it does offer insights regarding how Comey is going to approach this book. If Kelly did make the above comments, then it was also certainly in confidence. The remarks sound like the type of comments you tell a friend after they lost their job.
Kudos to Comey for telling Kelly to stay. But how can he turn around just 11 months later and toss these remarks out into the public eye? The above remarks are only going to strain Trump and Kelly’s relationship. At the very least, Comey has decided that his own personal revenge is more important than the country needing principled people around the president.
“It is also wrong to stand idly by, or worse, to stay silent when you know better, while a president brazenly seeks to undermine public confidence in law enforcement institutions that were established to keep our leaders in check.”
This comment was apparently made in remarks to Congress’s seeming unwillingness to confront President Trump. However, Comey may be throwing stones while living in his own glass house.
Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.
— James Comey (@Comey) March 17, 2018
While Comey wouldn’t make a pledge of loyalty to Trump, he never seemed to be going out of his way to confront the president either. More tellingly, Comey became actively involved in the 2016 election. His decision to release a letter saying that Hillary Clinton was being brought under investigation just days before the election almost certainly helped Trump secure the US presidency.
The FBI is generally forbidden from participating in or influencing elections. The FBI investigating Clinton is fine. The FBI influencing elections is not. At best, Comey is a hypocrite for criticizing Congress for not putting Trump in check given that he himself played a pivotal role in Trump’s election victory.
“I stared at the soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes. I remember thinking in that moment that the president doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life.”
Comey may have a relevant point that Trump “doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life.” Some of the president’s remarks have suggested that he does not fully appreciate that the Justice Department and its law enforcement agencies must try to be neutral as much as possible. The law should always be applied evenly and no one is above the law.
I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His “memos” are self serving and FAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
Comey ruins that potential point by inserting the “soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes” line. When you include a personal insult like that, it suggests that your real aim is to simply insult the president. Stick to facts. Hopefully, the full book will offer an explanation for why Comey feels this way.
“He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’…adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a 1 percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true…In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?”
Comey’s book on several occasions references Trump and the alleged use of Russian prostitutes. The above remarks suggest to me that the president was making some rather personal comments. It’s not hard to see why Trump would be stressed by such a reputation and marriage-damaging rumor. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable for the president to discuss such an issue with the FBI.
Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018
The rumors themselves always struck me as tinfoil hat fodder, to be honest. Such whispers are a fact for every president. President Obama dealt with countless unfounded accusations that he was a Muslim terrorist. He wasn’t. Would-be President Hillary Clinton had to deal with ridiculous and ungrounded accusations that her staffers were running a sex ring. They weren’t. We should never lend them credibility.
“His face appeared slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his…As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”
This comment takes the cake as far as eye-popping and indeed outrageous goes. Why did Comey feel compelled to make such a remark? It’s not a critique of the president or his policies. The remarks are purely childish personal insults and come across as petty.
When I read a comment like that, it makes me wonder if Comey is serious about examining and critiquing the president or is simply looking for personal revenge. Honestly, after reading a comment like that, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but the latter.
We as a society need to learn to rise above these petty insults, especially in regards to political leaders and others in the spotlight. I felt the same way with the frequent, personal attacks on President Barack Obama and his family. There was no need for them. Stick to criticizing policies, decisions, and actions, not personal looks and other minor things. Clearly, Comey has no intention of doing that.