Book review: A HIGHER LOYALTY by James Comey

I am grateful to my friend, Karen Cain, for convincing me to read James Comey’s A HIGHER LOYALTY: TRUTH, LIES, AND LEADERSHIP. I had no intention of reading it because, quite frankly, I despised Comey for swinging the 2016 presidential election in favor of a man morally and intellectually unfit to occupy the highest office in the land. Having read his memoir, I still believe that Comey provided the “final straw” that brought about the Trump disaster; however, I no longer despise the man. As a matter of fact, I admire him.

A HIGHER LOYALTY is a well-written and poignant memoir of a man who has spent his life pursuing justice, fairness, and the truth. It begins with his battles with bullies as a boy, which continue in his professional life during which he prosecutes members of the Mafia. He describes the frustrations of working under the publicity-seeking and self-serving Rudy Giuliani, the difficulties of dealing with Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales during the George W. Bush administration, and his eventual admiration for Barack Obama’s intellect and integrity.

Comey became Director of the FBI in 2013 and had every intention to serve out the entire term, which would span three administrations. However, that ended when Trump fired him because he refused to swear his loyalty to The Donald and because he refused to shut down the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. After telling Comey what a wonderful job he was doing, Trump fired him. Comey discovered that he had been dismissed while in California. When Comey took the FBI plane that had brought him to L.A. home, Trump was furious and ordered him not to step on FBI property again. Comey’s take on Trump: a man who reminds him of a Cosa Nostra boss–one who leads through fear and who requires personal oaths of loyalty–a president who fails to understand the independence of the Department of Justice, and thus the FBI, from the White House.

Because of my initial feelings about Comey, I was most interested in his explanation of releasing new information about Hillary Clinton e-mails so close to the election. I will not spoil it for the reader by describing his rationale here. I will say that I found his explanation plausible. I only hope that Comey truly used that reasoning at the time of the act and that it was not a post-disaster rationalization. I don’t believe the latter was the case. His book has convinced me that James Comey is a decent, honest, well-meaning gentleman incapable of deliberate wrongdoing.


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