3 min read

📙 A Higher Loyalty

On Sunday, I finished A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. It was well-written, and easy and quick read even though there are a handful of questionable statements (or more, depending on your political leaning).

Regardless, the book provides some context into the decisions made leading up to and through the 2016 presidential race.

Below are a handful of excerpts along with my commentary (in italics). 

Evil has an ordinary face. It laughs, it cries, it deflects, it rationalizes, it makes great pasta.

This comes fairly early in the book and it gives the reader an impression of James Comey’s humor.

FBI directors can’t be that way with presidents. Everybody knows why. Or at least I thought they did.

A few early hints into his relationships with presidents. Comey served under three presidents. Incredible how vastly different each one was in dealing with the DOJ and FBI.

Without both, people don’t thrive. Bridgewater’s founder, Ray Dalio, believes there is no such thing as negative feedback or positive feedback; there is only accurate feedback, and we should care enough about each other to be accurate.

How does one get to “accurate” feedback? 

A leader who screams at his employees or belittles them will not attract and retain great talent over the long term.


Also, foreshadowing.

Humans tend to do the same dumb things, and the same evil things, again and again, because we forget.

A point about the organization above the individual.

I want what you have, I need to know what you know, and I want you to keep telling me the things you’re telling me.

Listen, listen, listen.

I love this quote.

I can imagine good and principled people in my shoes making different choices about some things. I think different choices would have resulted in greater damage to our country’s institutions of justice, but I’m not certain of that. I pray no future FBI director is forced to find out.

About the point where things start heating up. At least from a public perspective.

Later on, there’s a critical decision that needs to be made and it basically comes down to choosing the lesser of the two evils. A frightening position to be in.

It was almost as if he were saying, “Good luck with that.” I began to feel a lump in my stomach.

You feel a genuine respect between President Obama and James Comey.

Jim, please be careful. Be very careful. This may not go well.

It gets even more uncomfortable at this point forward.

As Trump kept talking, I could see he was convincing himself of this story line and clearly thought he was convincing us, too. Of course, I didn’t think O’Reilly’s question was hard, or Trump’s answer good, but this wasn’t about him seeking feedback.

Reminded me of the great George Costanza:

Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.

Oh, God, I was hoping that would just go away.
It wouldn’t go away.

To be fair, I don’t this book will help.