A higher loyalty: Truth, lies, and leadership (2018)
‘We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country, with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized, and unethical behavior is ignored, excused, or rewarded. (…) Ethical leaders do not run from criticism, especially self-criticism, and they don't hide from uncomfortable questions. They welcome them. (…) Without a fundamental commitment to the truth - especially in our public institutions and these who lead them - we are lost. As a legal principle, if people don't tell the truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law begins to dissolve. As a leadership principle, if leaders don't tell the truth, or won't hear the truth from others, they cannot make good decisions, they cannot themselves improve, and they cannot inspire trust among those who follow them.’
‘With broad support across the organization, I was going to drive leadership into every corner and every conversation in the FBI, until we were consistently excellent, across all roles and at all levels. We would teach that great leaders are (1) people of integrity and decency; (2) confident enough to be humble: (3) both kind and tough; (4) transparent; and (5) aware that we all seek meaning in work. We would also teach them that (6) what they say is important, but what they do is far more important, because their people are always watching them. In short, we would demand and develop ethical leaders.’
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times, 12 April 2018: "James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive"
'In his absorbing new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey calls the Trump presidency a “forest fire” that is doing serious damage to the country’s norms and traditions.
“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes. “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”
Decades before he led the F.B.I.’s investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, Comey was a career prosecutor who helped dismantle the Gambino crime family; and he doesn’t hesitate in these pages to draw a direct analogy between the Mafia bosses he helped pack off to prison years ago and the current occupant of the Oval Office. (...)
The central themes that Comey returns to throughout this impassioned book are the toxic consequences of lying; and the corrosive effects of choosing loyalty to an individual over truth and the rule of law. Dishonesty, he writes, was central “to the entire enterprise of organized crime on both sides of the Atlantic,” and so, too, were bullying, peer pressure and groupthink — repellent traits shared by Trump and company, he suggests, and now infecting our culture. (...)
“A Higher Loyalty” is the first big memoir by a key player in the alarming melodrama that is the Trump administration. Comey, who was abruptly fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017, has worked in three administrations, and his book underscores just how outside presidential norms Trump’s behavior has been — how ignorant he is about his basic duties as president, and how willfully he has flouted the checks and balances that safeguard our democracy, including the essential independence of the judiciary and law enforcement. (...)'
Former FBI director James Comey sworn in to testify at a hearing in Washington. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters