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James Comey: I'm Not Mocking Trump

Former FBI chief taking criticism for his personal shots at the president's appearance
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2018 1:23 PM CDT
James Comey: I'm Not Mocking Trump
In this image released by ABC News, former FBI director James Comey appears at an interview with George Stephanopoulos.   (Ralph Alswang/ABC via AP)

(Newser) – It may seem like James Comey's book already has been out forever given all the media attention, but Tuesday is actually the official release date of A Higher Loyalty. Publisher Macmillan is expecting a blockbuster, having ordered a whopping 850,000 copies for the first run, reports CNN. No wonder: The book has been at or near the top of Amazon's best-seller list for a solid month, thanks in part to critical tweets by the main subject, President Trump. A look at coverage, including how Comey is taking flak for some of his lines about the president:

  • Personal shots: The New York Times observes that Comey is entering "risky terrain" with his gloves-off criticism of Trump during the media blitz. If he was once seen as above the fray, he is now "looking instead like a combatant in the country's partisan battles," especially given his jabs at Trump's personal appearance (including references to his "slightly orange" skin and "too long" ties). “To the extent that the former director appears petty and anything less than high-minded, it diminishes the impact of his critique," says GOP strategist Michael Steel, no big fan of Trump.

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  • Comey explains: So why the shots at Trump's appearance? "I'm not making fun of the president," Comey tells NPR. "I'm trying to be an author, which I've never been before in my life. But while I'm typing, I can hear my editor's voice ringing in my head, 'Bring the reader with you. Show them inside your head. Bring them with you.'"
  • Bad strategy? At Politico, Jack Shafer criticizes Comey for the "petty—and not very original" Trump insults. He didn't realize how they would be perceived? "When your 304-page book and marathon interviews produce sympathy for Donald Trump—even a dollop of sympathy—you’re doing it wrong."
  • Scooter Libby: Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air asked Comey if he felt Trump's pardon of Scooter Libby was an attack on Comey himself, since he appointed the special prosecutor in that case, per Axios. No, he replied, "but that doesn’t mean it’s not an attack on the rule of law. There’s a reason that President George W. Bush, for whom Scooter Libby worked, refused to pardon him."
  • Hillary Clinton: The Trump part of the book is drawing most of the attention, but Clinton allies are angry over Comey's explanation of his actions regarding her email server late in the campaign, reports the Hill. They're particularly ticked that he took polls into account showing her as the likely winner when deciding how to proceed. "Nobody is satisfied with anything he's been saying," says one Clinton adviser.
(Read more James Comey stories.)

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