Paul Handley –
James Comey, the FBI director fired by President Donald Trump last year over the Russia meddling investigation, has always worn his professionalism and principles on his sleeve.
With his new book, which describes the US president as a liar, Comey has plunged into Washington’s noxious political pit and risked losing the moral authority that has long protected him.
Other Federal Bureau of Investigation chiefs have published memoirs. ‘A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership’, goes where no other has: an open assault on the authority of the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.
“I can’t think of anyone who’s done a better job of politicising the FBI than he has,” said Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy.
“The writing of the book in general and then some of the things that he’s talking about are just frankly beneath the dignity of some really important offices he once held,” he said.
Washington national security lawyer Bradley Moss said Comey’s claim to the moral high ground has always been weak.
“Comey is not a saint. Never has been and I don’t think anyone should have expected him to be,” he said.
“He’s made a name for himself in taking moral stands at critical political moments.”
While Comey supporters held back from comment till they read the full book, which has not been officially released, some defended his credibility.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: “I think it is a truthful portrayal of Jim’s observations, his feelings and what occurred.”
Moss added to his comments: “Comey is still infinitely more credible than the president.”
‘A Higher Loyalty’ is an intimate view of FBI investigations and prosecutions over Comey’s career.
But, in writing about the sitting president, he is settling accounts after 18 months of being thrashed publicly by Trump as a liar.
He compares Trump to a mafia don, demanding loyalty oaths, immoral and “untethered to truth”.
He casts himself as an oracle and a savior, his clarion warning for America to get back on the path to truth and justice. Donald Trump “threatens much of what is good in this nation,” he says.
But Comey’s critics see him as now just another player of the political ring. The Republicans launched a website to counter the book, dubbing him “Lyin’ Comey”.
Trump called for him to be prosecuted.
“He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible director of the FBI,” Trump tweeted. — AFP