Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 34

WORTH READING

JAMES COMEY'S
CONFLICTED LOYALTY
Review by Ronald Goldfarb

H

During my years at the U.S. Department of Justice,
and as has been confirmed by other Justice
veterans from both parties, FBI officials do not
decide who is to be prosecuted, nor do they
comment publicly about their work. They conduct
investigations, as the bureau's title states, and turn
over the results to prosecutors. Director Comey
compounded his wrongful behavior when, days
before the election, he wrote to congressional
committees to say that maybe there was more to
his earlier controversial decision, but maybe not.
There wasn't, but the damage was done.

The first half of Comey's book is a sluggish
biography of his growing up and his subsequent
success, both in and out of government, as an
itinerant lawyer in New York City; Richmond,
Virginia; Connecticut; and Washington, D.C. This
career culminated, as we all know, with his succession of Robert Mueller - for whom Comey is
likely to be a sangfroid witness in the ongoing
obstruction of justice investigation against his
former boss - as the seventh director of the FBI.

Comey adds that he was conscious of and may
have been influenced by his assumption then
that Clinton would win, and this breach of practice
would demonstrate his apolitical nature. But he also
told an ABC interviewer that, "If I ever start considering whose political fortunes will be affected
by a decision, we are done." He trips on his own
verities. In a recent interview, Comey was asked
what books influenced his thinking. He replied,
"Reinhold Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral
Society." Yeah, right!

The second half of the book, the part he really got
$2 million to write, offers Comey's explanation of his
role in the 2016 election and describes his cruelly
abrupt firing by President Trump. Regarding the
Clinton email controversy, it is well known that
Comey was tasked by Attorney General Loretta
Lynch to investigate Clinton's email behavior so that
Lynch would not be criticized for having privately
met with the candidate's husband, Bill. Lynch's
mistake (not assigning her deputy) set in motion a
series of mistakes, concluding with Comey publicly
announcing late in the presidential campaign that
while Hillary Clinton did not commit a crime, she
was guilty of bad judgment.

Book cover, courtesy of Flatiron Press

34 WASHINGTON LAWYER

ow ironic it is that former FBI
Director James Comey, the man
whose behavior critics claim -
and polls show - cost candidate
Hillary Clinton the 2016 election, was
fired by the man who was elected
in her place, a man who Comey
now says is morally unfit to hold
that office. For his actions before
the election, Comey is despised by
Democrats, while for those since, he
is despised by Trump and his fans.
A Higher Loyalty is Comey's plea for
understanding.

*

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018

*

These public pronouncements violated settled
Justice Department and FBI procedures that have
been followed since 1935 for very good reasons,
and the fallout from Comey's statement provides
a classic example of why this rule was put into
place. Comey mentions two instances where the
FBI made public pronouncements about ongoing
cases, both during his time as director. Furthermore,
he admits the longstanding tradition at the FBI was
to avoid taking any action that would impact an
election. "That tradition was part of my identity,"
he writes.

Comey's book of self-justification doesn't demonstrate anything more than the fact that James
Comey is a preachy, moralizing, self-promoting
man who made a historic blunder, one he still
doesn't understand. In an ironic mistake, this
mistake led to his being fired, though for the wrong
reasons. But we knew that before this book.

Ronald Goldfarb is an attorney, author, and literary
agent in Washington, D.C. Read more of his work at
ronaldgoldfarb.com.


http://www.ronaldgoldfarb.com http://www.dcbar.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: After Parkland: Student Protests & Free Speech
Feature: Post-Brown
Feature: Remembering RFK
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Campus Connection
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 1
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 2
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 3
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 4
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 5
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 9
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 11
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 13
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 15
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: After Parkland: Student Protests & Free Speech
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 17
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 18
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 19
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 20
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 21
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: Post-Brown
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 23
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 24
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 25
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 26
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 27
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: Remembering RFK
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 29
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 30
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 31
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 32
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 33
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 35
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 37
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 39
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 43
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 44
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 45
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 47
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 48
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 49
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Campus Connection
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 51
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Last Word
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