Guide Assessment: ‘Saving Justice,’ by James Comey
In different phrases, they’re the exact reverse of Donald Trump, who demanded “loyalty” moderately than “honesty” from Comey, and fired him as director of the F.B.I. “Saving Justice” is a slight and repetitive e book, however not an insignificant one. Comey revealed the essential moments of his confrontation with the president in his 2018 memoir, “A Increased Loyalty.” They’re rehashed right here, however inside the context of a bigger theme: the nationwide descent from strict, fact-based reality right into a feckless mirage of “truthiness,” to make use of Stephen Colbert’s sensible formulation. Can an establishment religiously dedicated to the reality, just like the Justice Division, survive in a democracy the place huge numbers of individuals consider that the 2020 election was a fraud?
Comey is a curious determine. He’s good, admirable, hard-working — and but barely smarmy in his rectitude. He begins every chapter with a quote from sources starting from Virginia Woolf to Malcolm X to the inevitable Dalai Lama. He tries to leaven his supreme pontification with tales of his personal flaws, combined feelings and humility. His top — 6-foot-8 — makes him testy in cramped areas. His authorities wage makes it laborious for him and his spouse to lift 5 youngsters. Aggravated, he throws his daughter’s obnoxious speaking doll out the window of his vehicle (after all, he drives again to retrieve it). His pursuit of transparency is rigorous to the purpose of myopia.
However, after all, he’s proper: You possibly can’t have a working democracy with out an agreed-upon customary of reality. You want a “reservoir of belief” in our establishments if the federal government’s truth-work is to proceed. Conspiracy theories in regards to the Deep State are debilitating. The Justice Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence neighborhood should be perceived as trustworthy to a fault — even about their very own faults.
Comey is surprisingly robust on Robert Mueller. He believes Mueller’s report on Russian interference within the 2016 election is devastating, however too difficult for mass consumption. Lawyer Basic William P. Barr spins up a mud storm of inaccuracies whereas Mueller “selected to submit his unreadable — and unread — report after which go away and not using a sound,” Comey writes. “He may have discovered a method to converse to the American individuals of their language. … Division coverage and custom gave him loads of flexibility to talk within the public curiosity. He selected to not, and, ultimately, the one voices most People heard had been mendacity to them. No reality, no transparency, and Justice paid the worth in misplaced belief.”
He ought to discuss. It was Comey’s epic mishandling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case in 2016 that, arguably, gave Donald Trump the presidency. Comey defends his Clinton actions in each memoirs. He admits solely to sins of honesty. The general public was clamoring for a judgment. And the F.B.I.’s conclusion, after overwhelming work on the case, was that Clinton had been sloppy however not venal. “If we couldn’t show unhealthy intent, there was no prosecutable case,” he writes. Comey selected to announce this dramatically, in public, however not and not using a bone to his fellow Republicans: Clinton had been “extraordinarily careless,” Comey stated. He stewed in regards to the adverb, which turned his report into an op-ed. After which, getting ready to the election, he reopened the case. A pc containing extra Clinton emails was discovered within the possession of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose spouse, Huma Abedin, labored for Clinton. Now, if there ever was a time for transparency, this was it. Comey may have stated: “Look, we discovered no proof of criminality within the Clinton case, and I’d be very shocked — given the character of the hundreds of emails we’ve learn — if this new batch proves in any other case. However we’ve bought to have a look at them, and so we are going to.” As an alternative, he despatched a damning letter to Congress, saying that the investigation had been reopened. As Comey would possibly say: No context, no transparency.
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