Former FBI director Comey, much in the news, reviews his career and speaks his mind about his dismissal.
“I fully intended to serve as director of the FBI through the year 2023,” writes Comey, that year being when his 10-year term, begun under Barack Obama, expired. “What, I wondered, could possibly interfere with that?” The “what” was Donald Trump, who, under investigation for various improprieties committed during his campaign and perhaps after, demanded personal loyalty of Comey and did not receive the required affirmative reply. “Holy crap, they are trying to make each of us an ‘amica nostra’—friend of ours,” he writes, adverting to time he spent pursuing Mafia figures as a federal prosecutor in New York. As has been well-reported, the author weighs Trump and his colleagues and finds them wanting in every way: “this president is unethical,” he charges, “and untethered to truth and institutional values.” That president, he adds with a touch of informed speculation, is also bound for greater legal troubles than he has faced thus far. Comey looks back on a long career marked by such signature moments as his uncovering Dick Cheney associate Scooter Libby as the person who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, a matter over which he came under considerable pressure to back off the case, one of the many “exhausting lessons in the importance of institutional loyalty over expediency and politics” that he would learn in service to three administrations. Along the way, aside from a couple of personal digs at Trump’s clothing style and hand size, Comey serves up some well-observed remarks on the qualities of a successful leader, including humor, “accurate feedback” and pushing for improvement, especially self-improvement—again, all matters in which the current occupant of the White House falls short. Not all the book will be convincing, especially to supporters of Trump’s opponent, whose campaign suffered a tremendous blow when Comey announced that she, too, was under investigation.
A modest, soft-spoken book that is sure to enrage its chief subject.