It is possible to read Comey's book and come away thinking he believes in himself above all. He has a soaring self-regard, and he can be pious, even pompous. But it is hard to think he’s not telling the truth about his encounters with Trump. When he sits down with the president, he tells us, he has flashbacks of his days as a mob prosecutor ... Comey is in a unique position to write [A Higher Loyalty] ... Comey testified about [Mike Flynn's trial] much of this last year, but the added atmospherics in the book are powerful. The image of the president as mob boss is indelible. The stench of criminality hangs in the air of the West Wing like cordite ... If we see another season when high crimes are charged against a president, the likeliest count will again be obstruction of justice, again regarding a break-in at Democratic headquarters, again with the FBI working—this time with [Comey as his star witness].
The central themes that Comey returns to throughout this impassioned book are the toxic consequences of lying; and the corrosive effects of choosing loyalty to an individual over truth and the rule of law ... 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 ... The volume offers little in the way of hard news revelations about investigations by the F.B.I. or the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III...What A Higher Loyalty does give readers are some near-cinematic accounts of what Comey was thinking.
Most Americans will never go beyond the juicy bits trumpeted by the wall-to-wall Comey coverage this week – but they should. James Comey’s book is more interesting and more important than the gossipy headlines make it out to be, albeit not necessarily for the reasons the author may have wanted ... Higher Loyalty is really three different books in one. It's a meditation on ethical leadership (a conceit that disappears for scores of pages at a time), a traditional memoir of a senior public servant and an exposition of Trump’s presidency ... It’s an obviously hurried project and one that perhaps would have benefited from more distance for self-reflection ... I believe, too, that Comey believes he consistently did the right thing for the right reasons throughout 2016. That said, he doesn’t do a good job of convincing readers why he did what he did – those seeking insights into his decisions over the course of 2016 will likely find themselves disappointed by his accounting and reckoning with those actions in this book.
By and large, pundits and book reviewers have overlooked Comey’s most explosive revelations involving illegal conduct in the White House ... what is really important about his book is that we have a senior official in the Bush administration documenting how the government conducted illegal surveillance on US citizens and engaged in illegal torture (including waterboarding of detainees) in various 'black sites' around the world ... Comey frames his entire book as a plea for 'ethical leadership' based on the values of 'truth, integrity, and respect for others,' without which the justice system begins to decay. Yet he never addresses why neither he nor anyone else has ever used their authority to hold those who engaged in illegal surveillance and torture fully accountable ... Of course, A Higher Loyalty is best known for Comey’s famous confrontations with President Trump ... Comey describes these incidents in an engaging and cinematic style. His reporting is filled with vivid details and direct quotes attributed to both Trump and himself which make these accounts convincing and credible. But all the attention devoted to these shiny objects, should not obscure the rest of Comey’s book. Unintentionally, A Higher Loyalty teaches more about 'ethical leadership' by studying not what Comey has done in his career but by what he has failed to do. Not only has our government failed to hold any officials accountable for torture and illegal surveillance, but those very officials have been rewarded with high positions, book deals, prominent speaking tours, and, most recently, the May 17 confirmation of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA.
A Higher Loyalty is the brand extension of James Comey: the upright citizen turned philosopher, the lawman as thought leader ... This is a real memoir, with recollections and dilemmas building methodically, sometimes dramatically, toward his ethical leadership ideals. But even as chapters fly by without a mention of the current president, Trump hovers ... But when the stakes rise, self-examination diminishes. On his decision to publicly denounce Clinton’s handling of classified information in her private emails in July 2016, Comey’s misgivings are cosmetic ... For all his contempt for Trump — he decries 'the forest fire that is the Trump presidency' — Comey concludes that the president’s behavior, while disturbing and dangerous, 'may fall short of being illegal.'”
He demonstrates wit and humility in his anecdotes; later, he conveys urgency in his ruminations on this moment in time, and he’s not afraid to express reluctance and uncertainty ... This is not the dry law enforcement memoir that such a linear structure would typically beget. Instead, it’s cunningly calculated. Both explicitly and subtly, Comey draws himself as Trump’s polar opposite ... He pores over each of his most controversial decisions but comes to conclusions certain to satisfy no one but the most willingly forgiving ... His earnest manifesto on leadership informs a climactic righteous screed; he states his fear of being an egomaniac, only to awkwardly wield that insecurity as a weapon against the biggest egomaniac around ... Comey’s scathing arguments against Trump could hardly be more compelling, and Loyalty is infinitely more credible than Michael Wolff’s gossipy best-seller. But the point remains: Not even a fundamentally decent, morally upright former FBI Director could resist the appeal of a little Trump gaslighting.
In the predictable cacophony of cable punditry, A Higher Loyalty has been reduced to 'Comey’s revenge' against a president who has called him a liar, a leaker and “a slime ball” who should be prosecuted. Yet in the context of his life story, often laid out with detail and poignancy and humor, both his self-reflection about his actions and his indignation about a president who operates by a lesser moral code are entirely consistent ... Comey pauses repeatedly to remind readers that he is a fallible human being, and even relays stories that are less than flattering about himself ... A Higher Loyalty leaves no doubt that James Comey is a leader who is willing to resign to do what he perceives as right. His critics will dismiss him as sanctimonious, but he reveals some of the emotional scars that helped build that fortitude ... Comey comes across in the book as introspective, humane and humble — and believable.
As it is, A Higher Loyalty is a readable but dumb book, lacking any of the introspection or contrition that Comey needed to bring to the project. Instead, the author puffs himself up again and again ... That idea of greatness seems to be the yardstick by which he measures a life well-lived. But I don’t know if Comey ever fully defines what it means to be a 'great man.' When he refers to a person’s greatness, is he talking about a moral person - someone who makes the right decision, no matter the personal cost? Or is he just talking about someone who history remembers long after they’re gone - someone who has lived an extraordinary life? I honestly can’t tell ... Yes, Loyalty’s last third is heavy with juicy, dramatic accounts of Comey’s interactions with Trump. And yes, the accounts are entertaining, and if you have a dim view of Donald Trump you will likely find them to be pleasantly confirmatory. But is this book useful? Does it do anything worthwhile besides earn Comey a mountain of royalties? I would argue that it is not, and that the timing of its release serves absolutely no one but James Comey
Truth is always stronger than lies. Principle always trumps power. That is how Comey wants to be remembered ... A Higher Loyalty will be seen in one of two ways: as one more nail in Trump’s coffin; or as another aggrieved member of the deep state taking revenge on his former boss. America may be too polarised to take Comey’s message for what it is — an urgent clarion call from a flawed messenger. It has often been said that Winston Churchill got everything wrong except the one thing that mattered — the threat of Nazi Germany. In that sense, Comey is Churchill’s mirror image. He got everything right except the one thing that counted — Donald Trump.
A Higher Loyalty contains little by way of stunning revelation, but offers additional details ... Candidly, Comey acknowledges that the perceived likelihood of Clinton’s victory may have made reopening the email investigation in late October 2016 that much easier...A Higher Loyalty is less sparing of attorney general Loretta Lynch and her attempts to steer Comey’s investigation from the shadows while refusing to recuse herself ... Comey emerges as a moralist, shaped by religious conviction. A former Sunday school teacher, he sprinkles into the text quotes from Martin Luther and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr ... Comey may have left the building, but his ghost and Trump’s nightmares remain.
...by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency ... He maintains an air of rather self-conscious rectitude throughout, while finding much to disapprove of in the world around him ... In a remarkable look back, Comey says he was deciding 'in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president.' So any thought of concealment on his part 'bore greater weight than it would have if the election had appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all the polls' ... It is far from clear what effect Comey's book will have on public attitudes toward Mueller's work. It may be equally hard to assess what impact it will have on attitudes toward Comey or Trump. But it is not likely to convert the committed partisans on either side, or in either party. Instead, it may well cause further entrenchment, with both sides burrowing deeper into their respective certainties.
Without a doubt, A Higher Loyalty gives greater credibility to the idea that Trump obstructed justice when he fired Comey, bolstering one of the possible planks in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election. But Comey’s own credibility has undergone some damage in the process, and it’s unclear whether the book and its accompanying media blitz have moved the needle of public opinion in his favor ... Perhaps the most unsatisfactory aspect of Comey’s book, from the perspective of the left, is his explanation for this poor, ill-timed [Clinton emails] decision; but it’s telling that Republicans are so interested in one form of election meddling but not another ... But with no new information, Comey’s book may end up entrenching the two narratives surrounding his firing into a familiar pattern of gridlock.
A Higher Loyalty is half folksy ethics lessons learned from folks like Harry Howell, a quarter apologies to everyone and no one for the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the potential role it played in the 2016 presidential election, and, finally, a merciful quarter dunking on Donald Trump ... No part of A Higher Loyalty feels like a lie (other than the big one Comey’s telling himself about the email investigation). In the painstaking, plodding case he makes for ethical leadership and the importance of an independent FBI, you really do feel like he means it down to his core. Dude is genuinely a very tall, very boring-ass nerd, it seems.
Even those who follow Comey’s logic – and most readers will, I suspect, conclude that his motives were pure – are likely to struggle nonetheless with the other crucial decision he took in 2016 ... Comey records such details throughout, noting who has emotional intelligence and who lacks it ... In Comey’s telling, Obama was something of a saint in the swamp. Obama valued what Comey himself cherished and regarded as near-sacred: the independence of US institutions and, more important still, the obligation to tell the truth.