A book written by former FBI Director James Comey hit bookstores in the U.S. on Tuesday, receiving mixed reviews from those buying it. Comey has offered a scathing appraisal of the man who fired him in the book entitled “A Higher Loyalty.” (April 17) AP
Each week, USA TODAY’s OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other’s media bubble.
This week, voices from the left and the right slammedÂ former FBI director James ComeyÂ amid the rollout of his long-awaited memoir,Â A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.
Conservatives and liberals agreed the book offered no new information and that Comey lost credibility as an objective witness in the Russian investigation by throwing himself into the political fray and hurling insults at President Trump. The book also reminded folks on both the left and the right of how unhappy they were with Comey’s handling of the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election.Â
“The main lesson from Mr. Comeyâ€™s book is that Mr. Trumpâ€™s abuse of political norms has driven his enemies to violate norms themselves,” wrote The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board.Â
The boardÂ â€” which suggested Trump ask Comey to resign a week before the inaugurationÂ â€” said Comey’s book offers no new facts about his interactions with Trump except for his “moral and aesthetic contempt” for the president.Â
Rather, Comey “reveals in his excessive self-regard that he is more like Mr. Trump than he cares to admit. Mr. Trumpâ€™s narcissism is crude and focused on his personal ‘winning.’ Mr. Comeyâ€™s is about vindicating his own higher morality and righteous belief.”
Comey’s book “surrenders the higher ground” and his book tour continues his descent, said New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.Â
With his petty descriptions of Trump’s hands and orange face, Comey has entered Trump’s world where personality and people outweigh facts and ideas, Bruni said. And “he has abetted his own transformation from a crucial witness to a character in the serial melodrama of Trumpâ€™s life.”
That spectacle only serves Trump. If he can convince American voters that what theyâ€™re beholding has as much to do with the egos of the actors as with the egregiousness of his acts, he has inoculated himself against Robert Mueller, and he shapes the movie thatâ€™s made of this.
Trump fired Comey because he did not believe Comey would be impartial in the investigation into Russian election interference and “Comey did not take that humiliation well, believing that he was conducting an honest probe,” said former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.Â
“So, he signed a lucrative book deal in order to humiliate Trump. This is all about payback,” O’Reilly said. “If Comey had not been dismissed, he would not be saying these things. If Donald Trump is so reprehensible and dishonest, Comey should have resigned.”
Comey’s “revenge tour” shows he is not the noble defender of justice and truth that he tries to portray himself as, said Daily Kos writer Joan McCarter.Â Â
In both his handling of the Clinton emails and the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey ignored protocol and acted as though the “rules didn’t apply to him,”Â
Partisan or not, Comey was making decisions that proved he was holding himself above the agency he was directing, above the long-held policies that governed how it is supposed to operate â€” and how he was supposed to operate. His hubris, on full display as he preens and gossips and makes catty remarks about Trump’s spray tan and hand size, quite possibly put this man he considersÂ a dangerous buffoon in office.Â
During his ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, Comey “inadvertently reaffirmed what we already knew: In 2016, the entire American political system cracked, including â€” in crucial ways â€” the FBI,” said the National Review‘s David French.Â
Comey caved to political pressure when he decided not to prosecute ClintonÂ â€” which paved the way for her candidacyÂ â€” but hedged his bets by criticizingÂ her behavior and later publicly stating the investigation had reopenedÂ â€” which “may have fatally undermined her campaign,” French said. And all the while, he was more concerned with public perception than the law.Â
“If Trumpâ€™s conduct is to be scrutinized, James Comey is not the man for the job,” French concluded.Â
From trying to have it both ways in approving “enhanced interrogations” during the Iraq war to his “cagey” recollections about when he learned about the Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer, Comey’s track record indicates he is not to be trusted, wroteÂ Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi.Â
But even more troubling for Taibbi was the impression he took from the book that Comey is not above “pulling a J. Edgar Hoover” and holding damaging facts over a president to gain leverage.Â
We tend to forget that secret police, whether they want to or not, often end up wielding ultimate power over the careers of political figures. Since the death of J. Edgar Hoover, weâ€™ve mostly just had to trust that our Spooks-in-Chief havenâ€™t misused that power.
Looking back at the 2016 election, we canâ€™t be sure James Comey didnâ€™t violate that trust.Â
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