Former FBI Director James B. Comey is an arrogant, pretentious, narcissistic, petty, egotistical, holier-than-thou crybaby who’s indulging in a pity party and cashing in on his 15 minutes of fame by bashing the guy who rightly fired him.
He’s also really, really weird.
That’s the takeaway from Mr. Comey’s five-hour interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (the lengthy chat with a friendly TV host was trimmed down to less than an hour, which aired Sunday).
First, there’s this: Mr. Comey really loves himself. During the interview, he spoke often of himself in the third-person, and throughout he called himself a “leader,” often turning school-marm to teach the unworthy viewers just how they might one day rise to his lofty level. “Maybe I can be useful by offering a view to people, especially to young people, of what leadership should look like,” he said humbly.
Here, let’s pause and examine Mr. Comey’s “ethics:”
• In 2002, when Comey was a U.S. attorney in New York, he led the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s controversial, 11th-hour pardon of the despicable fugitive financier Marc Rich. Mr. Comey left for a federal job before concluding the probe;
• When he was deputy attorney general in 2005, he endorsed “enhanced interrogation” techniques — torture, in another word — that included waterboarding. He then hit the revolving door, making millions at a cushy defense contractor job, then made millions more at an investment management firm;
• Before the 2016 election, Mr. Comey investigated — then cleared — then investigated — then cleared — Hillary Clinton. After he was fired by President Trump, Mr. Comey committed an unethical — and perhaps illegal — act in leaking damaging FBI memos against the president.
In his interview, Mr. Comey at one moment was oozing humility, calling himself “a deeply flawed human surrounded by other flawed humans trying to make decisions with an eye, not on politics, but on those higher values,” then at another moment he flat-out admitted he made the decisions on Hillary for political reasons, not legal ones.
“It is entirely possible that because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight that it would have if the election appeared closer or if Trump were ahead in all polls,” he said.
What’s more, Mr. Comey implied that the Trump “pee tape” story in an unproven dossier of spurious allegations could be true, but he offered no evidence. Not exactly what’s you’d expect from an FBI director, current or former.
So ethics aren’t exactly Mr. Comey’s strong suit. Nor is honesty.
But Mr. Comey’s got ego in spades.
“One of the things I’ve struggled with my whole life is my ego and — and a sense that I — I have to be careful not to fall in love with my own view of things. And so that battle with ego and my sense that memoirs are an exercise in ego convinced me I was never going to write a book,” Mr. Comey said.
Then he was offered upwards of $10 million and poof — he’s an author. (“A Higher Loyalty” indeed. Who needs ethics when you’re making bank?)
Mr. Comey’s also weird. The 6-foot-8 Comey wants everyone to know the 6-foot-3 Trump is not as tall as him and that his hands aren’t as big. He goofed on Mr. Trump, saying “He looked slightly orange up close with small, white half-moons under his eyes, which I assume are from tanning googles.”
Mr. Comey is also fixated on fashion — and ties, specifically. On Trump he said, “His tie was too long, as it always is.” And Comey said of the day he last cleared Hillary, “I don’t know whether folks notice this, but in Washington Democrats tend to wear blue — men tend to wear blue ties. Republicans tend to wear red ties. And so I chose a gold tie that morning because I didn’t want to wear either of the normal gang colors.”
And Mr. Comey said while he himself is funny, Mr. Trump is humorless. “I’ve never seen him laugh. Not in public, not in private. And at a dinner with someone — I mean, I’m not a comedian but I occasionally say something that’s funny that people chuckle with each other,” he said.
In the end, Mr. Comey has become — and will remain — a media darling. The mainstream media will bow at his feet, and he’ll be feted by late-night talk show hosts as he hawks his book. He also plans a speaking tour where seats are going at upwards of $800, so Mr. Comey’s about to get even richer.
But with his interview, he’ll be remembered by history as a partisan hack who loved grandstanding and being the center of attention. And despite his wish that people who read the book “may still walk out of this thinking I’m an idiot, but I’m an honest idiot,” that won’t happen.
Instead, he’ll forever more be known as simply another self-serving Washington politico who sold his ethics for a handful of gold. And rightly so.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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