Everyone who cares about our country should read James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty. Read and decide for yourself whether the former FBI director is self-righteous, ego-driven, and sanctimonious. Decide for yourself whether he is petty, insecure, and in need of affirmation; decide for yourself whether he is just another Donald Trump. Don’t let the media decide for you.
Comey’s interviews promoting his book have journalists in full churn. The agitation seems to cloud the good sense not only of editorialists and columnists but also reporters, some diagnosing Comey with the very viral infection—I’ll call it Trump-myelitis—he writes about. Turn the diagnosis around and ask whether the media’s Trump obsession hasn’t clouded the mental acumen of the gaggle that regularly follows the president and must now take account of Comey’s full-court criticism. Not criticism deduced from questions shouted across the White House lawn or speculation born of tweets and a true-believer spokeswoman. No, Comey’s criticism is born of direct contact, conversation, and combat with a man wholly self-involved and negligent of the responsibilities of his office.
After the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972, the relationship between presidents and directors of the FBI has achieved, over several decades, a balance between executive oversight and investigative independence that Comey found himself defending in the three months he continued as director under Trump. It is not only the rule of law, constitutional values, and prosecutorial independence that Comey claims to defend. He also sees Washington’s partisan political divide, of which Trump is a beneficiary and practitioner, as a venomous threat to fair treatment under the law and a democratic ethos.
He sees the FBI and its investigatory responsibility threatened by Trump’s Mafioso perspective on the office of president and by the promise of loyalty the president attempted to wring from him. This may seem a minor matter in the overall swamp of Trump’s words and deeds. But if not Comey, if not the FBI, then which official, department, or agency has countered Trump’s disdain for proper order and contempt for norms? There don’t seem to be any other volunteers.