Comey: What his book actually reveals
This isn’t the first time we’ve had to ask this question, said Alex Shepard in NewRepublic.com, but “is James Comey helping?” When President Trump fired him as head of the FBI last May, Comey was already notorious for spotlight-grabbing intrusions into the 2016 presidential election that helped get Trump elected. Now here comes Comey again, with a new memoir, A Higher Loyalty, and a barrage of media appearances in which he is hammering his contention that Trump is “morally unfit to be president.” Trump, Comey writes in his book, is a serial liar who inhabits a “cocoon of alternative reality” and runs his administration like a Mafia boss, complete with “loyalty oaths” and an “us-versus-them worldview.” In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Comey stopped just short of accusing Trump of obstructing justice by interfering in the FBI’s Russia investigation, and said “it’s possible” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Trump, perhaps even the infamous “pee tape.” To Trump’s opponents, Comey’s insider story helps flesh out the picture of the amoral, authoritarian president who’s unfit to serve—aided this week by Trump’s tyrannical Twitter rants about how Comey is “a slimeball” who should be sent to “jail.” But to Trump defenders, the former FBI director’s clear “personal animus” only feeds into the narrative of a “deep state” conspiracy against the president.
Comey’s bitchy book “torches what’s left of his own reputation,” said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com. While offering no new details about his interactions with Trump, this “pompous ass” actually admits he was driven by politics and poll numbers when he decided to announce, 11 days before the election, that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Since she seemed certain to win, Comey wanted to cover his own butt and prevent critics from saying voters didn’t have the full truth. Now, in his crusade against Trump, said Frank Bruni in The New York Times, Comey even stoops to mocking Trump’s hair, his hand size, and his fake “orange” complexion. By engaging in these personal insults, Comey “surrenders the high ground,” descends to Trump’s level, and lets Trump, once again, “get the better of him.”
It’s far too late for Comey to convince liberals he’s a hero, said Adam Serwer in TheAtlantic.com. The lifelong Republican’s clumsy and self-conscious interventions in the 2016 presidential race “likely cost Clinton the election.” After finding no reason to prosecute her for her use of a private email server, the FBI director broke with Justice Department rules and gratuitously criticized Clinton for being “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information. This public slap was an obvious attempt to appease angry Republicans; meanwhile, Comey didn’t tell voters about the FBI’s far more serious investigation into the possibility “Trump’s campaign may have been getting aid from a hostile foreign power.” What was Comey thinking?
Comey may have “feet of clay,” said Harry Litman in the Los Angeles Times, but he has still performed a service with this book. In documenting Trump’s pressure to clear him and his aides of Russian collusion, Comey has provided “a highly credible account of possibly criminal behavior by the president.” Trump’s fate, however, will likely be decided “in the court of public opinion,” said Max Boot in The Washington Post. By lowering himself to Trump’s “sordid level” and revealing such personal animosity, Comey has undermined his value as a witness in possible impeachment hearings. “Once again, he is showing that his judgment is flawed.”