A Higher Loyalty
James Comey, 2017
Percentages say you don’t need to read A Higher Loyalty by James Comey because you already “know” Donald Trump is right about Comey being “a liar and a leaker.” Or, you could be a big Hillary Clinton supporter who hasn’t and likely won’t forgive him for his press conference that cast a murky cloud of doubt over your candidate only a handful of days before the 2016 election. There is at least one other group, a smaller one that wants to learn for themselves without blindly accepting what’s coming from the left or right and instead seeks to sort through the facts and decide for themselves.
If you’re in the first or second group, you likely aren’t interested in a book that doesn’t agree with the “truth” you already “know.” This book is for group three, and it was a very enjoyable yet difficult experience.
If you can put your politics aside, you’ll find Comey to be a very likable guy. I’m not saying that makes him an interesting guy, just someone you’d like to have as a neighbor. His school-age years make him seem like someone you’d want your daughter to date. Except for one incident in college, he’s established an excellent track record as someone who seems to have always done the right thing, or at least the thing that was the most right at the time based on the information that was currently available.
Most of the book revolves around exactly that: doing the right thing. He examines significant events ranging from how he reacted when a rapist broke into his home when he was a teenager up to how he reacted when the President asked him to pledge his loyalty not to the office or country but the individual. He tracks a careful timeline of what he did, why he did it, and if it had been the right choice. From stocking shelves in a supermarket to directing the FBI, Comey rethinks everything with the details you’d expect from a prosecutor who jailed mob figures as well as Martha Stewart.
He shows sympathy for her and explains how her jail time was unnecessary and avoidable. She sold a bunch of stock after getting a tip before bad news was released about a company. It was technically illegal, but it wasn’t a crime that hurt anyone. If she had been upfront with Comey’s investigation, if she had admitted that she had panicked and didn’t realize what was happening because she was new at investing, she likely would’ve had little more than a fine to the amount of her unjust enrichment. Instead, she lied, and that put her behind bars. One can’t help but wonder if that was a message to the current White House.
Speaking of the White House, it could be argued that the first 80% of the book is a setup to compare his leadership and that of others to Trump. The contrast is clear, undeniable, and necessary to qualify his portrayal of the current President as more of a “mis-leader” than a leader. He shows how Trump was more concerned with public perception than policy or protocol. This is most evident during the time and events leading up to Comey’s firing.
While Trump continues to label Comey as a liar and leaker, Comey has testified under oath about the President, including his attempts to obstruct justice. He’s put everything about it in this book, which has not been challenged other than rhetorically. Trump has done nothing more than shout about Comey at rally speeches. It’s not hard to determine who is being more upfront. In fact, everything about this book is upfront and admirable. Comey doesn’t hesitate to criticize himself at times. Not often, but at times, and it’s still pleasant. However, what has not been pleasant has been the one criticism made about the book: his physical portrayal of Trump.
Of the 312 pages in the book, he spends only about one paragraph on Trump’s hair and fake tan. Yet morning news shows went far out of their way to attack Comey for what they called a cheap shot. Really? With all the times Trump has attacked others for their hair, appearance, or just for being a woman, we’re going to nitpick with Comey for a short description that is rather accurate but not necessarily negative? Very unfair.
What’s also unfair is choosing not to read the book because you A. love Trump or B. love or hate Hillary. If the truth is more important than politics, you should give the book a shot.
Oh, one other thing, the fiasco about the Clinton email “scandal.” He explains his role from start to finish. He explains how pained he was in having to decide for or against releasing that there even was an investigation and then late release that an unfortunate circumstance forced the investigation to be reopened. He takes full responsibility and details how staying quiet about the investigation would have been equally bad if not worse.
I don’t know if he did the right thing, but I do know that it’s more than fair to listen to his explanation instead of blaming him for how the election turned out. Personally, I believe the election would have turned out the same way whether Comey had stayed quiet or not. I also believe – if your mind is open enough – you’ll enjoy A Higher Loyalty.