The highly anticipated memoir of former Director of the FBI, James Comey is set to hit the bookshelves on April 15th. In the book, the former chief who was fired by President Trump paints an unsparing portrait of the Commander in Chief.
One of the most controversial figures who emerged from the 2016 presidential elections was James Comey. Trained as a lawyer, he would serve as the 7th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Comey was a registered Republican for most of his life, but has recently described himself as unaffiliated. As the head of the FBI, he was responsible for overseeing the investigation of the Hillary Clinton email controversy. In a move that elicited extreme reactions, just two weeks before the elections he announced that he would be reopening the investigation – days later the investigation was closed again. In her book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton said that he was partly to blame for her loss.
Comey’s relationship with Trump soured quickly after the President was sworn in. In March 2017, then FBI director, James Comey said that the agency was investigating possible links between the Russian government and Trump campaign aides. He was dismissed from his position by US President Donald Trump shortly thereafter. This resulted in the US Department of Justice (DoJ) appointing former head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to investigate this matter. Additional information was leaked that Trump himself was under investigation for “obstruction of justice” having fired Comey on May 2017.
In June 2017, he provided a seven page written testimony detailing his interactions with the president. Comey in his testimony, stated that Trump’s behaviour was ‘inappropriate’. The President was accused of demanding loyalty from the FBI Director and interfering in the Federal investigation and then firing Comey when his requests was not granted. According to the testimony, Trump had asked Comey to stop probing into Flynn’s investigation case, centering on his calls with the Russian ambassador during his transition and asked him to publicly declare that he was not under investigation.
He has also noted that he felt “nauseous” to think that he may have played a role in influencing the outcome of the elections. When asked how Clinton felt in response to Comey saying "it makes him mildly nauseous that he might have influenced the election" during his testimony, the former Secretary of State simply couldn't feel sorry for him. "It makes me sick and he clearly, either if he doesn't know now — he certainly had every reason to know that it influenced the election and I have, you know I have evidence," she said.
In 2017 it was announced that he would be penning a book detailing his relationship with the US president and would be candid in his observations during the period he served as the Director of the FBI. In November 2017, the title of his book was revealed to be ‘A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership’. It is set to release on April 15th and excerpts of the book have been leaked to the media. The excerpts paint a harsh portrait of the US President Donald Trump.
Among what has been confirmed, Comey has written, “This President is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty." Comey wrote in one passage that Trump gave him "flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob."
"The silent circle of assent," Comey described. "The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth."
The former Director also has recalled an incident right after he was fired. Current Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly called him and expressed his displeasure with the president. Kelly is reported to have noted that he wished to quit as he did not want to work for someone “dishonorable.” Among the many anecdotes that have gone viral, Comey recalls President Trump personally asking him to investigate the infamous dossier (especially the part detailing the allegations that Kremlin has an incriminating tape of President Trump in a compromising position). "For about the fourth time, he argued that the 'golden showers thing' wasn't true," Comey wrote, saying Trump asked, "'Can you imagine me, hookers?'"
He also has written about whether or not he influenced the elections in favor of Trump. "I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”
The book comes during a contentious period in Trump’s political career. His personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has been subjected to a raid by the FBI. Some believe he might even be indicted as a result. "If I were still the United States attorney, no matter who the president was, and I was being asked to personally approve, as someone had to have been in the Southern District of New York, a search of someone's home and office who was counsel to the president -- I would want a lot more than the bare minimum proof of probable cause," said Preet Bharara, a CNN senior legal analyst who's a former US attorney, said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Tuesday night.
Some experts have also expressed concern that Trump’s threat to initiate a military conflict against Syria could by itself be a manufactured distraction to lure attention away from his domestic crises.
President Donald Trump has often taken the opportunity to question Comey’s motives and his integrity. It is unlikely that Comey’s memoir might politically hurt Trump. Polls show that he is still popular among his core base and has a rating approval of around 41%. In addition, the Republican party has already begun mounting an aggressive campaign against Comey. Republicans have launched a website specifically dedicated to calling him "Lyin' Comey".
Our assessment is that this a particularly turbulent period in Trump’s presidency. He is not only facing the possibility of war against Russia and Syria, but also has to deal with the expanding scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation. With his personal attorney in danger of being indicted, the President himself has increasingly expressed his dissatisfaction through his Twitter account. According to industry projection, James Comey’s book is likely to become a worldwide bestseller and his account will be read by millions as a result. The book has the power to tarnish the president’s relationship not only with the FBI but also members of his own administration (for instance Chief of Staff John Kelly).
It should be noted that among his own core base, Trump is still viewed favorably. Millions who voted for him still believe his tough stance on immigration and foreign policy will “make America great again.” However, it remains to be seen if Trump’s story will end triumphantly or with an impeachment. It’s a chapter that is yet to be written.