James Comey… there are multiple things that come to mind when I hear his name.
Somehow he figured out how to make both sides of the political spectrum hate him. Yet, he seems beloved by employees of the FBI. While he seems bound by rules and regulations in many situations, he simultaneously flies in face of them in others.
Throughout his career he has shown amazing courage, speaking truth to power, going after the mob and white-collar crime; yet, I feel quite disappointed with how he handled our current president at times. I love that he speaks out for our values, but hate that he had a hand in creating this mess. The FBI is supposed to be behind-the-scenes yet he seems super drawn to the media. I’m confused about why he pushed back on the New York Times during a Senate hearing after they reported the Trump campaign had many contacts with Russians when that has turned out to be true. So, it’s weird. Do I like him or do I not? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. These are some of the reasons I was so eager to read his book. Who is this guy and why is he so complicated? His book is a great read and actually gives a lot of insight into why he made the decisions he did. He is able to illustrate the immense pressure the FBI, and him personally, was under while trying to deliberate how to handle this truly unprecedented situation. I believe he handled the email situation incorrectly, but the book helped me understand how he arrived where he did. I still feel very frustrated by the whole thing, but it is what it is.
I was thrilled when my husband told me that James Comey was coming to SLC and he found tickets. It seemed like perfect timing with the bombshell news that dropped the previous weekend too. We arrived at the venue and the environment was just buzzing with energy. It seemed I wasn’t the only one bursting with curiosity at what he might say. The person that introduced him gave a timeline of his career. The crowd roared with laughter when he mentioned Comey’s time as a federal prosecutor under Rudy Giuliani. We laughed again when he said Comey served as Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ when Robert Mueller was FBI Director. What a comical twist of fate to see where we are now! And then came,”Ladies and Gentlemen, James Comey!” Thunderous applause filled the hall as this giant of a man strode onto the stage. As he began to speak I was struck by his charisma. He captured the crowd as he spoke about ethical leadership, his worry about the erosion of our public life and how much he believes in our institutions. It was so clear how much he loves and misses the FBI. He described his pain and depression he has felt over the last couple of years, but is determined to make something good come out of it. I was shocked by how funny he is and how fondly he spoke of past presidents. He talked about how important it is to listen to others when you hold a position of leadership. He said Barack Obama was the best listener he has ever come across. Obama would let you speak uninterrupted for 10 minutes and then respond with questions from minute one, seven and nine. He would never sit behind the resolute desk, but sit in a wingback chair while you sat on the couch. He would face you, look at you without any other distractions. He used humor to make the speaker feel more at ease because he understood what it feels like to talk ‘uphill’ to the most powerful person in the world. Comey then juxtaposed that with our current president. He doesn’t stop talking so the briefer is forced to interrupt. Anything you say falls on deaf ears. He sits behind the desk and tries to impose an intimidating persona. All of these things, in Comey’s opinion, is a mark of an incredibly weak leader. He spoke of his life, his career and his hopes for the future. He talked about his wife and 6 children. He told funny stories of employees at the FBI, staffers and the presidents. He captivated his audience in a way that I wasn’t expecting.
After he concluded his speech we began the Q&A session. It was everything you would imagine. There were lots of questions about the Russia investigation and, as you might predict, he couldn’t really say much about it. He was asked about the Hillary Clinton email situation. One thing he said that stuck out to me was, ‘This has been like a nightmare and I can’t wake up.’ He was asked about William Barr, the new AG. He said that he believed that pick is better than anything we could have hoped for and Trump may have bitten off more than he could chew. He talked about how Trump doesn’t laugh and he believes that is one of many signs that he is a deeply insecure person. He was asked if he believed that Trump would make it to the end of his term. Comey said that he hoped Trump did make it to the end of his term followed by stone cold silence. He explained, “People need to get off the couch, get out of the car and vote your values. The best thing for the health of our democracy is to vote this president out of office.” The crowd erupted! As the questions wrapped, he was met by a standing ovation. There was something truly inspiring about seeing Comey the human. Not the FBI Director, not the guy that Trump fired, not the guy that screwed up the election. When you strip away all the anger, the confusion and the turmoil that is our political reality right now, you are left with the most important thing that we all can agree on. Our American values. The most important thing we can do is fight to protect those values and the very democracy we all hold dear.
I’m so happy I was able to attend. I’ve come to the conclusion that if all Republicans were more like the James Comey I saw tonight, the world would be better than it is today. Like him, it would still be complicated, but better.
It is time to come out of hiding. My goal is to empower you: the silent observer. To provide knowledge to every American man, woman, and child who has an opinion but has been falsely convinced that they don’t know enough about politics to be allowed to share it. Abandon that belief. You are an American. Your voice matters. Rise up and stand for what is right. For family. For justice. For equality and humanity. This blog is for you. And together, our strong collective voices can change this world for the better.
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This is a must read book in 2018! It reads like a political thriller, yet it is a true story. It also gives some really good background info to help make sense of the Russia investigation.
I added Red Notice by Bill Browder to the Blue Mom Red State book club because Bill Browder is a key player in today’s news of the day. After the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Bill Browder has made it his mission to seek justice for him. Red Notice offers some context to the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr about Russian adoptions and dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Bill Browder has become a highly polarizing figure in today’s politically charged environment much like everything else. He is the subject of many conspiracy theories and is a villain in the eyes of Vladimir Putin.
Read the book and decide for yourself!