James Comey’s Attacks on Trump May Hurt a Carefully Cultivated Image
“In a time when almost every public debate is actually defined by people lining up with their respective tribes,” Mr. Steel added, “he’s managed to alienate both.”
Mr. Comey, in remarks promoting the book, says he is actually trying to rouse the country to see Mr. Trump through the lens of “ethical leadership,” arguing of which the president “does not reflect the values” of Democrats, Republicans or independents. Asked on ABC if Mr. Trump should be impeached, Mr. Comey said he hoped the idea would certainly not happen because voters were “duty bound” to “go to the voting booth as well as also also vote their values.”
Mr. Comey has cast himself as a truth-teller before, sometimes to the irritation of colleagues or superiors. He threatened to quit his job at the Justice Department from the George W. Bush administration rather than sign off on a domestic surveillance program the White House demanded, as well as also also he refused Mr. Trump’s entreaties to back off of the investigation of Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser. Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey a few months later, calling him a “grandstander” as well as also also citing the F.B.I.’s investigation into his administration’s ties to Russia.
“After he was fired, he finally became the martyr he always held himself out to be,” said Matthew A. Miller, who served as a top Justice Department official under President Obama when Mr. Comey led the F.B.I. “By doing a tour like This kind of where you kind of get down from the gutter the way he has, you sacrifice your claim on being a martyr.”
Even before the Discharge of his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” the White House, working in concert with the Republican National Committee, began an all-out campaign to besmirch “Lyin’ Comey” — the name of a website the party created to make the case — as dishonest, self-serving as well as also also driven by partisanship. however with his one-liners as well as also also cutting asides about the president, Mr. Comey only appeared to play into the hands of allies of Mr. Trump, who are eager to paint the former F.B.I. director as just another figure working for the president’s defeat.
as well as also also Mr. Comey has drawn bipartisan criticism with his latest efforts to explain — as well as also also, to some degree, recast — his much-criticized handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Mark Mellman, a longtime Democratic pollster, said Mr. Comey’s standing had been undermined by the one-two punch of liberal attacks over his role from the 2016 election as well as also also the more recent assault led by Mr. Trump as well as also also his Republican allies.
“Trump has tried to define him as a bad operator, as well as also also the problem for Comey is actually of which you can quote a lot of Democrats saying the same,” Mr. Mellman said.
At This kind of point, the idea seems unlikely of which Mr. Comey’s book or his performance in interviews to promote the idea will sway public opinion in a country of which is actually already intensely polarized along partisan lines. Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have been similar for months, as well as also also the roughly 40 percent of Americans who support him have proven remarkably unshakable, while the 56 percent who disapprove will probably not change their views on Mr. Comey’s account.
While Mr. Comey is actually sure to captivate the public for a few days with his biting descriptions of the president as well as also also dramatic of interactions with him, the combination of the supercharged news cycle as well as also also the looming — as well as also also far more consequential — investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel probing Russia’s meddling from the 2016 election, is actually sure to eventually overshadow his memoir.
“the idea keeps the story of cover-ups as well as also also corruption on the public radar while Mueller is actually doing his investigation, however Comey is actually just a pit stop along the way of of which,” said Stephanie Cutter, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Much to Comey’s chagrin, his moment has passed. There’s nothing in This kind of book we don’t already know. He just adds one more hole to a ship of which’s already sinking.”
Mr. Comey plainly considers himself to be a figure who is actually above the political fray, driven as well as also also guided solely by facts. His friends as well as also also advisers say he wants the book to stir a conversation about the value of honesty.
“Telling the truth should not be seen as a political act,” said Keith Urbahn, Mr. Comey’s book agent. “the idea should just be the truth.”
Yet there is actually a twist: While he professes to be uneasy with the country’s growing polarization as well as also also appears to disdain partisanship, Mr. Comey has in effect weaponized himself against a Republican president by calling for him to be voted out of office. Mr. Comey may not want to be used as anybody’s “political battering ram,” as one associate put the idea, however he recognizes of which is actually precisely how his book will be deployed.
Friends say Mr. Comey expected his memoir would certainly be criticized because of how the idea would certainly inevitably be construed: either as airbrushing history as well as also also not being honest about Mr. Trump’s transgressions, or as a self-serving as well as also also score-settling account with the man who ended his career in law enforcement.
Still, Mr. Comey’s former colleagues rejected any notion of which he has transformed himself into a political actor or hurt his reputation.
“Jim Comey is actually as upright, honest as well as also also decent a person as well as also also public servant as I have ever met,” said Jack Goldsmith, who served with him from the Bush Justice Department.
As for his willingness to engage in Trumpian insults, invoking the size of the president’s hands, his allies argue of which he is actually simply attempting to paint vivid scenes as well as also also does the same with the additional presidents he served.
Mr. Miller, however, said Mr. Comey tends to be “at his best when he’s coloring inside the lines as well as also also following the rules,” as prosecutors are trained to do.
“What you see from the book is actually not just a factual recitation, however also a lot of spin on the ball,” he said.
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