Who is James Comey? When a future history book is written, will he be the pivotal character in American History that caused the fall of our great country? Or is his new book, “Higher Loyalty” destined for the ash heap? I guess that will depend on if we survive, as a country. As empires go, we still have a few more years in us before someone has to write the book about our fall. Some days it feels we are closer than others. Maybe it will all turn out to be a bad dream. Comey’s book, however, reminds us that it’s not a dream. What’s happening is very real and it's very bad. This, from the once top cop in our country. The former Director of the FBI.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it...but I dove in, trying to make sense of our current administration and the events surrounding the election of President Trump. It’s all there. Step by step, page by page. Why there was no criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton. Why Director Comey reopened the investigation on the eve of the Presidential election and then quickly closed it. But perhaps more important, his personal conversations with Trump, for which he took notes, and then of course his spectacular firing--perhaps the most outward, brazen, and morally bankrupt acts of a US President since Watergate. Yet here we remain. Trump in charge and a country divided. It should be noted that Comey is not whining, he’s providing the facts, just the facts. He’s letting his readers decide.
Just like the book, I do not want this review to be divisive. Most who support Trump will have stopped reading at “Who is James Comey?” But that’s Ok. This book isn’t going to change a single mind. His book isn’t about impeaching Trump. Rather his book is a call out to all who serve in the public eye to be ethical leaders with a higher sense of loyalty. Not to a party, not to a cause, but to our Union and a belief in our Justice system. A system that demands truth.
Oddly, Comey is the last person one might think to be on Hillary Clinton's side. Many in law enforcement lean to the right. Everybody thought he leaned to the right when he opened the the investigation into her email, and then they reversed their opinion when he failed to indict her, and then reversed their opinion again, when he reopened the investigation, only to reverse it again, when he closed it, only to sing his praises (or damn him) on the morning of Trump's election, and then, of course, only to reverse it again, when it looked like, in Trump's eyes, he was leading an investigation into Trump on Russia. The left was neutral on that one, their necks had already been snapped off. He wasn't opening that investigation as many thought. Nevertheless he was fired just in case and because he wouldn't show a lick of loyalty to the Don (or Donald) in Washington (my word’s not Comey’s). Does that sound a bit schizophrenic? That’s what happened. And, oh by the way, it’s not Comey with the mental illness. Yes our Country’s head was spinning like Linda Blair's. And I think, that it why, the book was necessary. At least we have Comey's side of the story. Which is helpful. Each of us have our own story, what we thought, what we decided to do about ti. But it’s helpful because now we know what the guy in charge was thinking, and at a minimum, why he did it. And I can tell you from reading his book, that his side is far more rational than your side...whatever you were thinking, because he had the facts. None of the rest of us did. Even though the evidence was staring us in the fact.
So what does Comey think? First, he thinks Donald Trump has leadership skills that parallel the crime bosses of NY. The Mafia, The Cosa Nostra. And he speaks from experience having prosecuted many cases of organized crime. Trump demands loyalty, manages by transaction, and truth is irrelevant. A modern CEO of a publicly traded company could never survive in such an organization. Such a leader would never be elected to the job by a public Board of Directors to begin with. Or if he was, he would be replaced fairly quickly.
Something happened in Russia and he lied about it. That should come as no surprise. He doesn’t know what exactly, he also doesn’t care if there were prostitutes in his hotel room, or what that prostitutes were doing. He cares that Trump was obsessed with telling him it’s not true and that nothing happened. That obsession is a tell tale sign of having something to hide. And if you have something to hide, that means someone can blackmail you, in this case Russia. If he would come clean, he would no longer be under the risk of blackmail. Something happened. If nothing happened, there is nothing to obsess over. How do you obsess over something that didn’t happen? If someone accuses you of robbing a 7/11 and you didn’t and they never produced camera footage, because you were never there, you have nothing to anchor your obsession. Your brain has nothing to recount, nothing to remember, nothing to say over and over again (if you’ve ever obsessed over something) if only I hadn’t done this or that. A man who has spent his life time investigating crime, as Comey has, knows human nature. He knows how people react in these stressful situations. Something is not right. Something happened.
The next part of the book details the Linda Blair period of our history running up to the election. No indictment for Hillary. Why? Because no one gets prosecuted for mishandling classified the way she did. You get fired. You get walked out. But you don’t get prosecuted. If it makes Trump supporters happy, they got their day. Hillary was fired. Hillary was walked out. The case should be closed with regard to prosecution. Why can’t they lock her up? There still is no case. But he reopened the investigation, days before the election. Why? New evidence emerged. Emails they never had access to previously. If you don’t open the investigation it’s a cover up. He had to reopen the investigation. And of course, no smoking gun. You still can’t prosecute. In our Country, you can sue, you can scream and cry, you can protest, but you can’t prosecute without a sufficient evidence of a crime. We all should be thankful for that fact. That’s the heart of our Justice system. So Hillary never lied, but she mishandled our secrets, and the American people fired her. Even those who didn’t like her, but supported her, over Trump, believe justice was served in this case. Now we have to deal with the aftermath of not having alternative. It’s bad for us, but this is the annoying situation that arises from having to tell the truth. And a boy scout, like Comey, is going to tell the truth. It’s not unlike when your wife asks you the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?”. A boy scout tells the truth, Comey tells the truth, and deals with the awkward aftermath. The rest of us choose the little white lie in order to maintain peace and tranquility.
The end of the book describes the four conversations Comey had with Trump leading up to his firing. Following the first conversation Comey knew immediately he had to write things down. Believe what you want to believe, but I believe the red flags that were going up all around him, the bizarre nature of the circumstances and the conversations that ensued, would compel any normal person to take a few notes. Comey has convinced me he was the normal person in these conversations. He was the adult. He was the guy without a bias, without an ax to grind, and with everything at stake...his job, for starters. Trump was obsessed and irrational. As we all know, the firing of Comey and the things that Trump said in the aftermath, lead to the logical conclusion that Comey didn’t mislead, or misrepresent those conversations. Again, however, you will have to read the book and judge for yourself. I can tell you I’m convinced.
Maybe one day Comey will return to public service. His book has convinced me, not only is his version of the story reliable and accurate that he is indeed a true public servant. We need more like him in the service of our country. That is what will continue to keep us great.