Former FBI Director James Comey has not had the week he expected. Last Sunday April 15 he kicked off the publicity tour for his book titled A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership with an hour long sit down interview with ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos for a special episode of 20/20. By Thursday April 19th, it was announced that Comey’s “redacted” memos of his 2017 conversations with President Donald Trump (which took place prior to the President firing him in May 2017) had been leaked to the media following the DOJ’s releasing them to Congress. Furthermore, it was confirmed that Comey was now under investigation by the DOJ for “leaking” his memos in May 2017 to his Columbia University journalism friend Daniel Richman who subsequently leaked them to The New York Times and other outlets.
Many question Comey’s motives for writing a book. In fact, Comey even admitted to George Stephanopoulos that he is going to receive commentary from friends and former colleagues given that he had repeatedly proclaimed that he would never write a book. Like many before him, Comey fell prey to a burning desire to set the record straight and protect his own personal legacy. And of course, the title of the book A Higher Loyalty is intended to portray Comey as answering to a higher calling which supersedes partisan politics.
Or said another way, he was answering to a lower calling to undermine and delegitimize President Trump. In fact, when Stephanopoulos asked Comey how he chose the book’s title, he responded,
Well, in part, the title comes from a bizarre conversation I had with the president in dinner at the White House in January of last year, where he asked for my loyalty personally as the F.B.I. director. My loyalty’s supposed to be to the American people and to the institution. But more than that, it grows out of a lifetime of my trying to be a better leader and figure out what matters in a leader, and realizing from a whole lot better leaders than I, that there must be a loyalty to something above the urgent, above the political, above the popular. We have to think, “What are the values that matter in the institution I’m involved with and in the country that I care a lot about?”
Apparently that “higher loyalty” has prompted Comey to talk out of both sides of his mouth. Back in January 2017, he famously told President Trump “I said I don’t do sneaky things, I don’t leak, I don’t do weasel moves,” At the risk of belaboring the obvious, nothing could be further from the truth. Comey has now proven himself to be a serial leaker, a perception which has been further amplified by President Trump’s counter punching tweets. In addition to describing Comey as a “leaking slime ball” earlier this week, on Saturday President Trump also issued this tweet:
“James Comey’s Memos are Classified, I did not Declassify them. They belong to our Government! Therefore, he broke the law! Additionally, he totally made up many of the things he said I said, and he is already a proven liar and leaker. Where are Memos on Clinton, Lynch & others? “
A Higher Loyalty is really nothing more than a vehicle in the impeach President Trump campaign (despite Comey’s protestations to the contrary) which is peppered with Trump attacks which run the gamut from moral unfitness for the presidency to ill-fitting ties.
One of these critical observations is paradoxically complimentary and accurate. “I liken President Trump in the book to a forest fire”. Comey writes. “Going to do tremendous damage. Going to damage those important norms. But a forest fire gives healthy things a chance to grow that had no chance before that fire.”
While Comey is just reiterating the prevailing anti-Trump rhetoric by intimating that the President wants to destroy our society’s foundation, he is accurate in his observation that the President has ignited a flame which “gives healthy things a chance to grow that had no chance before that fire”. After all, we would not have tax reform or the possibility of a healthy relationship with North Korea and so much more if we did not have a fire starter like Donald Trump in The White House.
One thing which is certain is that all this controversy around Comey, coupled with the media war with President Trump, is going to sell books. A Higher Loyalty is already at the top of Amazon’s Best Seller list and is projected to be the top selling book of 2018.
Image: CC by 2.0; Excerpted from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/22492551342