Fired FBI Director James Comey’s new “tell all” book is a dream come true for President Donald Trump’s opponents and a hatchet job on the president.
It’s important for every fair-minded person to remember that just because Comey makes a charge, he is not speaking gospel truth – despite his inflated sense of virtue and self-importance.
Just about anyone who’s ever been fired fancies “getting even” with the boss. Comey’s new book does that in spades, according to excerpts leaked to the media Thursday. In the process, it lowers the reputation of both the FBI and Comey, undermines the presidency and hurts the nation.
The book is seething with disdain and insults for a man the American people elected to lead our nation. Comey openly vilifies President Trump, throwing forth every insinuation and slur you can think of, even descending into petty criticism of the president’s tan, length of his ties and height.
Comey openly vilifies President Trump, throwing forth every insinuation and slur you can think of, even descending into petty criticism of the president’s tan, length of his ties and height.
On top of this, Comey repeats unproven salacious allegations about President Trump’s sex life – a surefire way to increase book sales.
All the while, Comey feverishly feeds the “resistance” beast.
By contrast, Comey paints himself as the noble and heroic public servant – a veritable Superman, fighting the superhero’s “never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.” One thing you can say for Comey – he has a healthy sense of self-esteem.
Let’s be honest: Comey wrote this book to retaliate against President Trump for firing him, make a huge amount of money, and establish himself as an American icon. Sadly, it appears he may succeed on all three counts, as he styles himself entirely above reproach and holier than thou.
While Comey’s book is titled “A Higher Loyalty,” the volume is fundamentally an act of disloyalty. Yes, senior officials write books after presidents leave office. But doing so while a president is serving does a deliberate disservice to the president and nation. Comey clearly does not to care.
Any president – whether Republican or Democrat – expects top government officials to provide him with judgment, integrity, competence and discretion. Advice is provided in confidence and dialogue is assumed to be private, unless otherwise stated. Government cannot function without that essential understanding.
If the president doubts any of those attributes – as President Trump had good reason to do with Comey – he has every right to fire an official under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.
That is what happened. The president lost confidence in Comey, the FBI director did not want to accept this fact, and for reasons not hard to understand he was fired.
Comey’s book has one last purpose. It is a thinly disguised attempt to pre-empt further investigation into his own questionable actions, including the indefensible hobbling of a major investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her email scandal.
Comey’s book has one last purpose. It is a thinly disguised attempt to pre-empt further investigation into his own questionable actions.
The investigation – and Comey’s judgment – were thrown into question numerous times, before, during and after he chose to exonerate Clinton.
To this day, more questions remain unanswered than have been answered about the Clinton probe, many of them nagging and constitutional in nature.
On top of this, add Comey’s odd preoccupation – twisted into a virtue for his book – of linking Donald Trump to Russia. Objective evidence was scant when Comey launched what has now turned into a seemingly never-ending fishing expedition, looking for evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Beyond prematurely exonerating Clinton from serious charges, Comey made an embarrassing beeline for Trump, assuming the worst, bending established rules, and offering half-truths to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court for a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign aide.
The audacity of this all must impress even the ghost of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, whose offenses were many but never extended to seeking to prematurely unseat a potential president.
Members of Comey’s FBI team, including those intimately involved in premature shutdown of the Clinton investigation, fretted over Trump’s surprising election victory. Their own communications – overtly seeking an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory and showing contempt for the man who is now our president – were discovered only through persistent congressional oversight.
At best, Comey’s leadership of the FBI was self-absorbed and lax. Oversight of FBI agents and lawyers was utterly missing. On his watch as the top dog, senior FBI officials went rogue. That was, as chain of command goes, his fault.
Now Comey styles himself a national hero, a status that he never had – but seems to have assumed for himself.
In all this, I see only sadness, ego and a fall from grace. Comey’s book is just another passing stab at vain glory – common currency in today’s Washington, unlike past years when the nation’s capital prided itself on getting things done, respecting electoral outcomes and decency.
Today, books sell if they fan the flames of disunion and division, coddle popular prejudices and take aim at the president. Comey’s does all that, very well.
My sadness is only deeper because, in an earlier day, Comey was a man I recall sitting with in the National Security Council back when he was a deputy attorney general, more soft-spoken, not so impressed by himself.
I do not know where that man went, but perhaps when and if we ever see him again we will rediscover a bit of ourselves.
As for the book – with deference to judgment, integrity, competence and discretion – I suggest readers skip it.
Robert Charles is a former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, former naval intelligence officer and litigator. He also served in the Reagan administration.