A higher Loyalty – Truth, Lies and Leadership by James Comey – Book Review and Summary
Book Review and Summary – A Higher Loyalty – Truth, Lies and Leadership by James Comey
An interesting and burning autobiography, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey, the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was published on April 17, 2018. Since then it has been causing great ripples around the globe on how has it been around FBI and the US President Donald Trump. He has been openly compared with a Mafia boss in this book.
As people say “He knows he may never be forgiven by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for what he did and did not – in the 2016 elections “. The book appears to be totally an appeal to people to try to understand his side of the story. Sometimes it may sound like a revenge as well. He depicted himself as a decent and thoughtful leader but a servant who accepts and learns from mistakes. As with the latest code of super conduct of leadership has been abuzz, Humility – Confidence – Listen are depicted as pillars. Undoubtedly well said.
Both in support and against may or may not agree with what has been told in the book.
He tells that “This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” . “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.” Even in the epilogue, he says “Forest fires, as painful as they can be, bring growth,”. He was bullied as a child, disgusted by the dreary capo di tutti capi who squats behind the Resolute desk, an absurd symbol of a dangerous and vicious era.
A February 2017 meeting in the White House with Trump and then chief of staff Reince Priebus left Comey recalling his days as a federal prosecutor facing off against the Mob: “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.” An earlier visit to Trump Tower in January made Comey think about the New York Mafia social clubs he knew as a Manhattan prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s — “The Ravenite. The Palma Boys. Café Giardino.”
He writes, “We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.”. It is mentioned that Comey doesn’t recall seeing him laugh, ever. Also mentioned that as an “inability”. He goes further as he saddens to see this in a leader, and scary in a president
But Comey, is however, as a A Higher Loyalty demonstrates again and again, at heart a Christian moralist, influenced by theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr. “I can be stubborn, prideful, overconfident and driven by ego,” Comey admits at the start of the book. A Higher Loyalty is at once an earnest, exculpatory confession – justifying his actions in controversies from torture and surveillance programmes under George W Bush to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election – and a jeremiad against a national leader “untethered to the truth”.
One of Comey’s overriding missions is the long-term safeguarding of the FBI’s independence from being “waist-deep in the shit” of the Washington cross-fire, to rebuild public trust in such institutions. But there’s also an implicit hope that Trump, whom he describes as a “forest fire”, will finally immolate himself for provably obstructing justice.
Trump’s attempts to sway the inquiry into Michael Flynn – the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying about conversations with the Russian ambassador – are here laid out in disquieting detail. Trump’s impulsive decision to fire Comey unleashed a potentially lethal nemesis in the form of special counsel Robert Mueller, who may finally bring him down. As Comey makes clear, such is Trump’s “unique brand of chaos.”
The book also revolves around methodical explanations of certain events that may not be legally correct or proven. Some attest to his nonpartisan and well-intentioned efforts to protect the independence of the F.B.I., but that will create questions about the judgment calls Comey made, including the different approaches he took in handling the bureau’s investigation into Clinton (which was made public) and its investigation into the Trump campaign (which was handled with traditional F.B.I. secrecy).
Around the Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal adviser David S. Addington (Bush era), Comey describes, “The war on terrorism justified stretching, if not breaking, the written law.” He depicts Bush national security adviser Condoleezza Rice as uninterested in having a detailed policy discussion of interrogation policy and the question of torture. He takes Barack Obama’s attorney general Loretta Lynch to task for asking him to refer to the Clinton email case as a “matter,” not an “investigation.” None was spared.
As for his controversial disclosure on Oct. 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reviewing more Clinton emails that might be pertinent to its earlier investigation, Comey notes here that he had assumed from media polling that Clinton was going to win. He has repeatedly asked himself, he writes, whether he was influenced by that assumption: “It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”
Until his cover was blown, Comey shared nature photographs on Twitter using the name “Reinhold Niebuhr,” and both his 1982 thesis and this memoir highlight how much Niebuhr’s work resonated with him. They also attest to how a harrowing experience he had as a high school senior — when he and his brother were held captive, in their parents’ New Jersey home, by an armed gunman — must have left him with a lasting awareness of justice and mortality.
Quoting a part of New York times editorial review here
” A Higher Loyalty is the first big memoir by a key player in the alarming melodrama that is the Trump administration. Comey…has worked in three administrations, and his book underscores just how outside presidential norms Trump’s behavior has been—how ignorant he is about his basic duties as president, and how willfully he has flouted the checks and balances that safeguard our democracy, including the essential independence of the judiciary and law enforcement. Comey’s book fleshes out the testimony he gave before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 with considerable emotional detail, and it showcases its author’s gift for narrative…A Higher Loyalty [gives] readers…some near-cinematic accounts of what Comey was thinking when…Trump demanded loyalty from him during a one-on-one dinner at the White House; when Trump pressured him to let go of the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn; and when the president asked what Comey could do to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation…Comey is what Saul Bellow called a “first-class noticer.”
The New York Times Book Review – Michiko Kakutani “
Would say that the book is definitely thought provoking and holds value. But note that this is a memoir, information from the other side, the inside. No one can testify the events but can only correlate. Worth a read.