Is Trump morally unfit?
April 16, 2018 | Expert Insights
James Comey’s memoir regarding his working relationship with US President Donald Trump continues to make headlines across the world. In his first interview since being fired as the Director of FBI, Comey has stated that the president is “morally unfit” to be the leader of the nation.
President Trump meanwhile has hit back at Comey through a number of searing tweets.
President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. He has found himself being criticized for his actions and his statements in the past. He has been accused of sexism, misogyny, racism and more. The President has also been criticized by Republicans for failing to forcefully condemn racism in the wake of the alt-right rally that took place in Charlottesville in August 2017. Most recently, top athletes like LeBron James have condemned him. He also initiated a travel ban that barred visitors from largely Muslim nations from travelling to the US. Senator Jack Reed (Democrat) was caught in a microphone speaking to his colleague Senator Susan Collins in July stating, “I think he’s crazy.” Collins responded simply by noting, “I’m worried.”
Former FBI Director James Comey had a complicated relationship with US President Donald Trump. As a presidential candidate, Trump had often praised Comey for the investigation he had led against former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. However, after the elections, the relationship soured. In March 2017, then FBI director, James Comey said that the agency was investigating possible links between Russian government and Trump campaign aides. He was dismissed from his position by President 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. According to the notes kept by Comey himself, Trump had asked him to drop the investigation against former National Security Advisor, General Flynn. Trump has since often taken to Twitter to harshly criticize Comey.
In 2017 it was announced that Comey would author a memoir about his time serving as the FBI director and his equation with Trump. In November 2017, the title of his book was revealed to be ‘A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership’. And it supposedly paints a harsh portrait of the President.
A Higher Loyalty by Comey is projected to become an international bestseller based solely on pre-orders. The book will officially be released on April 18th, 2018. Multiple excerpts from the book have already been leaked to the media. Comey has painted an unruly White House led by a leader who is willing to cross the moral compass.
In one of the more searing passages, Comey wonders why Trump did not openly criticize or condemn the Russian government. “I had often wondered why, when given numerous opportunities to condemn the Russian government's invasions of its neighbors and repression — even murder — of its own citizens, Trump refused to just state the plain facts...Maybe it was a contrarian streak or maybe it was something more complicated that explained his constant equivocation and apologies for Vladimir Putin.”
In addition, Comey also sat down for his first official interview since being dismissed. He has made the extraordinary claim that Trump’s request to drop the investigation against Flynn could constitute to obstruction of justice.
Asked in the ABC interview whether he believed Trump was obstructing justice in making the request, Comey said: "Possibly. I mean, it's certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend and – and I'm just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor, it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent," he added.
He also noted that Trump himself was “morally unfit” to be the President of the United States. He said, “Our president must embody respect, and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”
Trump and his allies have pushed back at Comey’s book by discrediting the former FBI Director’s narrative. The President himself took to Twitter to call Comey a "slippery" "slimeball". He also called him the "WORST FBI Director in history, by far!" Through a series of Tweets he noted, “The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?”
According to a report by the CNN, “One person close to Trump said the President was caught off guard by the personal nature of Comey's attacks, including his description of Trump as a mafia boss and his wry jabs at Trump's appearance, including his description of Trump's face as "slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles."
According to the latest polls, Trump’s base is still approving of the President they helped elect.
Our assessment is that it is clear through his tweets, that President Trump is disturbed by Comey’s books and his subsequent interviews. Some analysts have expressed concerns that the President would be pre-occupied with Comey’s book when he should be focusing on policy matters and problems like the Syrian conflict. Some have even suggested that Trump’s frequent attacks on Comey and his book would have inadvertently publicized the book across the world and drawn more attention to Comey’s memoir.
A Higher Loyalty is one of the most critical books written by a former FBI director about a sitting President and the content of Comey’s book should be a cause of concern by itself. In the book he compares President Trump to a mob boss and paints a picture of a man who cannot lead. This is disturbing during a period when there are multiple conflicts across the world.
This book however is unlikely to sway Trump’s base against him.
Read more: The future of Trump Presidency