A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership is a book by James Comey, the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I finished the book today and I have a few takeaways I would like to share.
This book is not about President Trump or Secretary Clinton. The book speaks about James Comeys experiences as a United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY – you might have seen this abbreviation since Michal Cohens Search warrant was issued by this office), the 31st United States Deputy Attorney General, Director of the FBI, and his childhood. He draws on his experiences and NOT his own actions to draw out lessons on good ethical leadership as well as American values. His need to speak about ethical leadership is due, to what he believes, as these values not been held up, or protected by the current president and his administration.
It is a very honest, self-reflective, sincere view of James Comeys thinking. He is not self-righteous or egoistic. He is very aware that he might have biases and weaknesses. His actions and thinking were and are driven with this in mind. He is very credible in speaking about the subject of leadership, and the processors of government having worked with two administrations at a high level, in independent offices.
It also speaks volumes on how the decision process within the FBI worked, none of the highly critical decisions that were made, were made without discussion and debate with his second in command and staff, at the FBI (some of whom are former prosecutors). They were also not taken lightly. Whichever side of the divide you fall on, Americans should be proud and relieved, that there are (were) people in federal government who hold themselves up to a higher set of values and work so hard to stand up for those values without taking sides.
Seeing some of the criticisms in the media and the comments of the president, I feel that he and people have a basic lack of understanding of how the DOJ, and FBI work. The DOJ in some way is the lawyer/prosecutor for the United State of America (not the president), responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States. It has a direction it could take, and be influenced in its policies by the administration, but when it comes to those policies, it is still guided by the law, the legal system and the constitution. It is not an arm or tool of the administration or the president. In fact, it is vital that it is independent, because, in the past, and with other administrations, the policies of the administration, and the presidents were investigated and advised by the same justice department on the legality of its actions, and policies. (Bush and Clinton presidencies) The FBI is the investigative arm of the DOJ. The white house counsel is the legal counsel for the administration, the office of the president and his actions in that position, It is Not the personal attorney for the person who is president, and also don’t have attorney-client privilege. The person who is president has to have personal or outside counsel for any activities actions of a personal nature, in my understanding.
All in all, it’s a great read, and whether you, again, decide to believe Director Comeys accounts of his interactions with the president, the book has great lessons and perspectives worth listening too. I walked away with a respect for what the former director was trying to achieve, and none of the interviews did any justice to the book, or what he is trying to achieve.
We all, in my opinion seldom take the time to hold ourselves to a higher set of values. we start rolling in the rat race and don’t take the time to reflect on what we stand for or what our personal values are, a moral compass that we think always guides us and how quickly, we can mess up and make mistakes. You constantly must be vigilant of your own motives and actions. I know this more than most.