A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership

James Comey. Flatiron, $29.99 (304) ISBN 978-1-250-19245-5
The ex-FBI director—whose firing by President Trump, over the FBI's investigation of Russian government interference in the 2016 election, sparked a furor—reopens that case and others in this piercing and candid memoir. Comey revisits conflicts between duty and politics under three presidents: as deputy attorney general, wrangling with the Bush White House over the legality of interrogation procedures such as waterboarding; in a dramatic scene, guarding the hospitalized attorney general John Ashcroft from White House officials' bedside efforts to reauthorize illegal surveillance programs; and overseeing the FBI's probe of Hillary Clinton's emails (he revisits and explains the actions that, it has been claimed, cost her the election). Comey mines his recollections for leadership lessons, with Barack Obama, whom he admires, furnishing the best examples. His damning portrait of Trump, on the other hand, is a study in unethical, off-putting anti-leadership: he likens Trump to a Mafia boss for pressuring him to show personal loyalty and drop the investigation of Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn, cringes at Trump's defensive and crass denials of claims that he consorted with Russian prostitutes, and "desperately tr[ies] to erase myself from the president's field of vision” at a gathering to avoid Trump's unpleasant schmoozing. This is a troubling and important account of the clash between power and justice. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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