A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
This was one of the most interesting books I’ve read to date. Comey’s first hand experiences with all of these high powered politicians was quite humbling, and you could tell he was also a humble guy as he told the story. This book starts early in his life for a brief background on is upbringing. Then, he quickly moves through his career as a lawyer, federal prosecutor, deputy attorney general, chief counsel, and finally FBI director. He has one or two cases that he highlights to show what he learned in each of these roles. Overall, the flow of this book is fantastic, and he does a great job telling a story while giving advice on how to be a great leader based on his experiences with great leaders.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER SUMMARY
1. The life - Comey started in medicine but fell into law during college. As a lawyer, he learned about the job and their principles and one truly suck. The Sicilian mob had one saying you must always tell your fellow members the truth at all times unless you're going to kill them.
2. This thing is ours - Coney's first job was a one year don't at a law firm where he gained the required experience to become a federal prosecutor. After that, he worked for Rudy Giuliani and tried many various cases representing the federal government.
3. The Bully - early on in life Comey was bullied at school. The tides turned when he was a little older and found himself joining a group to pick on another kid. These experiences made him realize how terrible it was to be a bully and that he wanted to make his lifestyle work getting rid of the bullies of the criminal world as a federal prosecutor.
4. Meaning - comedy had two bosses in his early career, Rudy Giuliani and Ellen Fahey. Rudy was a confident man chasing the limelight at all costs. Fahey's confidence allowed for her to be humble rather than chase the limelight. She just wanted to get work done and help her team become better people. Her leadership style allowed Comey to grow and learn how to be humble.
5. The Easy Lie - Comey was head of the U.S. Attorney's Office in NYC when Martha Stewarts case came through. Had she just been honest about what happened, she would have gotten off with a fine to repay her money, but she decided to lie to the FBI instead. Later on, Comey ended up working for the Attorney General as Deputy Attorney General (#2 lawyer in the US). He learned there how essential it is to treat both sides of the political spectrum the same during prosecution and to not get distracted by the public eye. Rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, and everyone else must be treated equal when it comes to the law.
6. On The Tracks - on of Comey's first big challenges as deputy attorney general was dealing with the stellar winds crisis. This was an executive order out in by bush and Cheney that basically gave the NSA unlimited access to monitor all civilian calls, texts, and other internet communications like emails and instant messenger. The attorney general's office saw this as unlawful and fought it to the ground. Through this he learned that many will lie and deceive you with all of their power to try to get more power. In order to fight this, you must stay true to your morals and stand tall even when it seems like there is no hope for defeating them.
7. Confirmation Bias - in 2002-2003 many pictures were leaked of inhumane torture being performed by US agencies. Bush had appointed a new attorney general that was getting crushed by Cheney. They were forcing them to push through torture guidelines that were completely inhumane and allowing the edge branch to do essentially whatever they wanted. This was the last straw for Comey, and he left government service after fighting as much as he could for some decency in the law and losing.
8. In Hoover's Shadow - after 5 years as Chief counsel for 5 years at Lockheed Martin, Comey was asked by Obama to interview for the FBI Director position. Comey was impressed by Obamas ability to understand and related to a crowd, his humility, and his humor and sees them as essentials to leadership. FBI Director was Comey's opportunity to apply all of the leadership lessons he had learned over the years. He expected people to find joy in their work, treat all people with respect and dignity, protect the institution's trust, work hard, and fight for balance in their lives.
9. The Washington Listen - law enforcement and the black community have always been at odds ever since the civil rights movement, but that has increased more in recent times. The Black Lives Matter and Police Lives Matter movements started to add more and more distance between the two sides causing even more violent crimes. The problem with these two movements is that they were not creating a real discussion, it was more two very opinionated sides talking at each other. Having the humility to ask for others opinions and truly listening with the intention to learn is key to finding the middle ground.
10. Roadkill - during Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, the FBI had an open investigation on her use of private email servers to discuss classified information. After a year of investigating, the FBI determined there was no negative intent with her mishandling of the classified information and it was a mistake but not worth prosecuting. After all of the hype created with the high profile case, they found nothing worth an indictment. While this did not make people on either side happy, Comey felt the FBI handled the investigation with truth and integrity which was the most important thing.
11. Speak or Conceal - in the weeks leading up to the election, the investigation into Russian election interference and the new Hillary Clinton's emails were the hot ticket cases at the FBI. After long deliberations, Comey decided he needed to keep Congress and the American people in the loop on the new evidence in the Clinton investigation.
12. Trump Tower - right after president Trump's election, Comey needed to brief him on dossier that was released related to him and the Russian government working together. He could tell this presidency was going to be different when Trump and his advisers tried discussing strategy right in front of the intelligence directors. Intelligence directors are on a fact based mission and do not want any insight into what politicians spins are on the facts, but this president did not understand that.
13. Tests of Loyalty - It was obvious early on that Trump believed he would work with Comey and guide his decisions while that is not the expectation for that relationship. The FBI Director's independence is vital to the American peoples trust in both offices. Trump setup a one on one dinner with Comey a few weeks into his presidency. This is unorthodox and not an acceptable way for them to meet. Trump kept asking Comey for his loyalty in a sort of threatening way. This worried Comey, and he began keeping notes on his meetings with Trump to ensure he was covered when this inevitably exploded in his face.
14. The Cloud - it didn't take long for Trump to ask Comey to drop an investigation. He asked him to stop looking into Mike Lynn and Russia sanctions. Trump started calling the Russia investigation a cloud that was limiting his ability to direct the country, and he asked Comey what they could do to lift the cloud? As Comey continued to resist, It didn't take much longer for Trump to fire Comey. When it comes down to it, Trump is unethical and leads with fear through the expectation of personal loyalty.
Review by Tyler Diderich
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