As hard as I tried to avoid coming into this book with a bias, I definitely still had one. The problem? I wasn’t really sure what that bias was – did I love or loathe Jim Comey? The whole email BS with Secretary Clinton provided a roller coaster of emotions towards him, but I am not sure I can answer honestly which side of the spectrum I landed on. As much as I appreciated the July 2016 announcement that the email investigation was closed and as much as I hated the October 2016 announcement that it was reopened, I still don’t know how I felt towards him as a person. Sure, his public comments since his very public firing have been insightful to who he is as a person, but still … no idea.
All this rambling to say this, I don’t know what I expected from this book other than a tirade against Trump – this based on Trump’s Twitter freak outs about the book. But, I didn’t get that. Nor did I leave the book hating or loving Comey. I did leave it with a new respect for him and the tough decisions he’s had to make.
The book details his history with excellent leaders and retells the stories and cases from his career that shaped him as a leader. From his days working in a grocery store to his days in Manhattan working with Giuliani to investigate and prosecute members of the mafia. The stories that struck me most were not the sensational (Mafia, Martha Stewart), but the ones from his days as Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush. A few months ago, I listened to Bush’s book, Decision Points. In it, he tells his side of the Scooter Libby and Stellar Wind stories. If memory serves me, he mentions Comey in passing in the Libby story, but he goes into detail on Comey’s involvement in the Stellar Wind case. It was very interesting to hear Comey’s side of this story and a small part of me wants to go back and reread those chapters in Decision Points to compare the two … a very small part.
When it comes to the Clinton email case, I honestly believe this was a no-win scenario for Comey and the FBI. No matter which route he chose, he and his team would have ended up on the wrong end of a firing squad by whichever party was displeased. For me, the Clinton email bullshit isn’t what lost her the election. I am sure it played a part, but 2016 was a disgusting mess of emails, Russian interference, anger, racism, xenophobia, sexism and all the other awful isms I can’t remember at the moment.
I am sure Trump missed the memo on this, but only about 1/8 of the book is about him. Comey ends his book with the final chapter of his public service career, which is fitting. There is nothing new or particularly sensational revealed her. Just what we already know – Trump is an unethical, inhumane leader that lies for the sake of lying. I could go into this more, but I’ve already typed his name and thought it too many times. You know the story here.
The biggest takeaway from Comey’s book, the point I believe he was trying to make and what we all really need to hear is this – sometimes doing the right thing means going against one’s own personal political beliefs and it means putting yourself on the line. Comey’s retelling of his career and the cases that made it highlight this. In many cases he could have chose a different path, one that would have moved him forward politically and gained him favor and power. But he didn’t. His loyalty wasn’t rooted in politics, but rather in country and doing what is right and ethical, regardless of the public consequences.
And, he’s right. We are at a crucial turning point in America and we have to decide where our loyalty lies – with partisan politics or with something greater.