Call it The Two Million Dollar Retort. Hillary Clinton plans to slam James Comey in her upcoming memoir, What Happened, distilling all her blame-shifting after the election into one convenient — and avoidable — tome. Harper Collins wants to rush that into print by the late fall, but it won’t be the last word. That goes to the former FBI director, whose own as-yet-untitled memoir will come out this spring in a deal that reportedly resulted in a payday exceeding $2 million:
Flatiron Books told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Comey is writing a book about leadership and decision making that will draw upon his career in government. Comey will write about experiences that made him the FBI’s best-known and most controversial FBI head in recent times, from his handling of the bureau’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server to allegations of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump fired Comey in May and soon after told NBC News that he was angered by the FBI’s investigation into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia,” which he called a fake story. Comey has since testified before Congress that Trump asked him to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn and kept memos about his meetings with the president.
According to Flatiron, Comey will cite “examples from some of the highest-stakes situations in the past two decades of American government” and “share yet-unheard anecdotes from his long and distinguished career.”
No doubt that the book will have quite a few “anecdotes” about Trump, especially given the circumstances of Comey’s departure. Comey’s memoir may provide the first real practical lesson in Lyndon Johnson’s political philosophy, which held that it’s better to have people “inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.” Ironically, that quote references Comey’s predecessor at the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, explaining why LBJ never got the nerve to fire him. Now that Comey’s free from any obligations to remain silent, other than those involving classified material, he’s free to fire away at the president just months before the midterms.
That’s hardly the only score Comey has to settle, though, and some of them have a much longer track record with Comey. Loretta Lynch will undoubtedly get featured prominently in at least a few of those anecdotes too, as Comey will have to explain why he usurped her authority as Attorney General at the end of the Hillary probe. Comey has already made that argument (in part, perhaps) during his Congressional testimony, prompting Dianne Feinstein to wonder aloud whether the Senate Judiciary Committee needed to launch an investigation into her activities. They sent her a questionnaire to start, but it’s not clear what response Lynch has made to it yet.
Comey has a number of fights he can pursue. Both Republicans and Democrats went after him for his conduct of the Hillary probe, alternately championing him and pillorying him. The media scrutinized his every move, ripped his rationales from all directions, and challenged his grasp of the law. Want to bet Comey will have something to say about bloggers and pundits? The odds are … high, my friends, high indeed.
The biggest score, though, will be with Hillary and the Clinton machine that has demonized him for over a year. His feud with Donald Trump is mainly a bizarre clash of style and personal affront; Comey’s clash with Hillary is based on serious malfeasance and a political environment which made her untouchable. Now that Hillary has made her intent plain to make her “memoir” of the campaign an attack on Comey, it seems hard to believe that he won’t take the opportunity to answer her in kind.
What will Comey and Flatiron title this tell-all? My suggestion is With Malice Required By One, but that might be a little too esoteric. Maybe The Valley of the Pols would sell better, but What Really Happened might be a fun idea, too … although that assumes Hillary’s book will sell to anyone except media and political insiders.