And so the battle for truth begins.
It is a tale of two truths: one from an upright former leader of the FBI who has served under both Republican and Democratic leaders. The other from a reality-TV President who seems to live in an alternative universe of his own making in which he is the absolute monarch in what is supposed to be a country founded on Constitutional principles and rule of law.
Whom to believe?
Let’s go back in history a bit, shall we? Way back to a little country called England, around say 1534-1535.
Henry VIII – whose ego and vanity would have been an equal match to that of our current POTUS – had a dilemma. While he had ridden himself of Cardinal Wolsey (kind of a Reince Priebus character in this example), lost Sir Thomas More as Lord Chancellor and found in Thomas Cromwell (think a Bannon-like manipulator) the man who would help him achieve his end to marry Anne Boleyn, many at Court and beyond were still contemptuous. (These would be akin to the celebrated #NeverTrumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.)
Remember, not only did Henry’s machinations rid him of a Queen – they also created a split from the Catholic Church and created The Church of England, a now Protestant religion with Henry as its supreme leader as ordained by God.
Henry needed a solution to guarantee the success of his endeavors. So he came up with a loyalty oath that anyone holding public or church office was to swear to its allegiance. (Loyalty oath – sound familiar?)
And Parliament (think our current GOP-led Congress) happily rubber stamped it all for Henry in what was called the Acts of Supremacy.
Sir Thomas More – a lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and humanist – had a dilemma of his own.
A devout Catholic, he had advised Henry against the course of action chosen. For More, there was only one Church and one person ordained to lead it – the Pope.
More thought his retirement to private life would take off the pressure for him to swear such fealty. But More’s reputation was so sterling and had such influence that Henry felt he must have More’s obeisance to put a final gloss of authenticity to his newly formed religion and his place as its Supreme Head.
The Roman Catholic More – like others who refused to take the oath – was tried for treason. His conviction was based on the perjured testimony of Richard Rich (a John Kelly-like creature when it comes to veracity). More, once friend and close confidante of Henry, was beheaded.
Now, I am not making an analogy here that former FBI Director James Comey is as sainted as Sir Thomas More literally came to be.
But he did lose something -his job- based on trumped-up charges that it was his handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, with Donald Trump to turn around and admit to Lester Holt he had the Russia investigation on his mind in firing Comey. (Wonder who gave him the idea to use Hillary as the excuse? But her e-mails!)
Comey erred greatly in making his the judicial voice of pronouncement in summer 2016 in the investigation of the Hillary Clinton e-mails. (Although I am sorry, my newly made Democratic friends, but I believe he had no choice but to go public about the e-mails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer in October. Whether or not he had enough info that the Russia investigation should also have been made known, I will leave to the historians. Even Obama erred to over caution here. I cast my vote against Trump for Clinton. My conscience is clear.)
But like More, I believe Comey believed himself to be acting with all integrity, even though he has admitted to an egotism of his own.
I do believe James Comey has a higher loyalty to this country than does Donald Trump, whose idea of loyalty – like Henry’s – is about personal allegiance rather than abstract ideals.
It may be easier for some people to understand Trump’s version of loyalty. It is a simple “you’re either with me or against me” and there is less thought involved in making it.
Personally, I much prefer Comey’s ”higher” brand to what seem like more abstract principles – even if it comes at a cost.
And to paraphrase More a bit – while I respect the Office of the Presidency (though not the man currently in it), I love my country and count my conscience more.
As does Comey, from all appearance. New book coming out as testament to his own ego or no.