Eight things we learned from James Comey’s Toronto interview with Heather Reisman
After being unceremoniously fired by Donald Trump a year ago, James Comey, the former FBI director, wrote A Higher Loyalty, a book that’s part memoir and part leadership manifesto. Among other things, it details the thought processes behind a few of his controversial calls during his time on the job, including his decision to announce that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before the 2016 election.
Yesterday, his book tour took him to Toronto. Here are a few things we learned from his talk with Indigo’s Heather Reisman at the John Bassett Theatre.
Comey gets the Indigo stamp of approval
Reisman, who was already calling Comey “Jim” after chatting with him for a few minutes backstage, was in awe of his writerly skills. “It’s seriously well written. I want to put a Heather’s Pick on it right here and now,” she said. Comey credited his storytelling ability to his speedy typing skills.
Comey has no idea whether Trump will be charged
Comey said he has no clue what information Mueller has uncovered. “I can’t rely on anything I see in the media,” he said. “There are definitely no leaks coming out of Mueller’s operation. No one knows what he knows.” He does, however, think that Mueller knows what he’s doing. “I do know that they will be able to find the truth if they’re able to continue,” Comey said.
But he doesn’t think Trump will be re-elected
If Trump hadn’t fired him, Comey said, he would have voluntarily stayed on as FBI director for the remainder of the president’s first term. But then he corrected himself: “I mean, his only term.” Later, Reisman posed a hypothetical: “Let’s say in 2020 the economy’s doing well, North Korea’s been denuclearized…does Trump get re-elected?” Comey said he didn’t think so.
All this press probably won’t affect his ability to be a credible witness in the Mueller investigation
Comey admitted that yes, he expects he will be a witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. And he understands all the press related to his book probably isn’t ideal, from Mueller’s perspective. “Any prosecutor would want their witness wrapped in duct tape,” he said. “I think Mueller would say, ‘I prefer that he not, but it’s not going to hurt us.’”
Reisman really, really doesn’t understand Comey’s decision to announce the re-investigation into Hillary’s e-mails
Reisman tried several times to ask Comey if he regrets his decision. He remained on point. Even in hindsight, he said, he would still make the same choice. “I had two doors I could take, and they both involved actions. I could talk about it, or I could conceal it.” Had he concealed it, he said, Clinton would have been an illegitimate president. The only thing he regrets is his phrasing when announcing that there had been some non-criminal wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. “I wish I had said ‘very sloppy’ instead of ‘extremely careless,’” he said.
Rudy Giuliani was never his friend
Reisman referred to the former New York mayor and current Trump lawyer as Comey’s old friend, because the two men worked together in the New York State attorney’s office. Comey quickly responded, to chuckles from the crowd, “Not to be defensive, but I never considered him a friend of mine.”
He was pressured to add those superficial details about Trump
One of the parts of the book that has received media attention is a passage where Comey talks about his in-person impressions of Trump, and references details like the president’s strangely coiffed hair, orange face and smallish hands. Comey said he included those details at the urging of his editor, but that if it was up to him he would have left them out.
His wife reminds him of Arya Stark
Comey said he’s basically immune to all the insults being thrown at him from people on both ends of the political spectrum because his family is so supportive. He joked that his wife takes notes every time someone wrongs him. “She’s like that character from Game of Thrones with a list of names she’s going to kill,” he said.