I want to share a few words about loyalty and oaths. Donald Trump gave James Comey an honest opportunity for his FBI director to speak his mind. But Comey despised Trump for who he is, and took the coward's way out, claiming some holy devotion to an invented loyalty that doesn't really exist.
Unlike most of the media and late night hosts, I have not curled up with James Comey's book "A Higher Loyalty" and wallowed in the thick haze of Mr. Comey and Mr. Trump's ill-fated bromance. It's clear from the get-go that Comey had no love for the New York billionaire, and having been fired, humiliated, and blamed for putting the man who fired him into the White House, Comey has not grown more likely to forgive and forget.
The entire basis of Comey's story is that President Trump had the temerity to ask his FBI chief to have his back. All the stuff about how Comey was creeped out by Trump, all the salacious rumors, and the moralizing holier-than-thou judgments on Trump's character is simply regurgitated opinion to be consumed as a communion wafer is eaten by Catholics for absolution of sin. And as Erick wrote, it's totally irrelevant.
Now let's talk about loyalty. At no time did President Obama overtly ask Comey for his loyalty. That's because he didn't have to. The unwritten, unspoken bonds of tribal allegiance, not of party, but of Washington, cemented the relationship between a Harvard lawyer raised in Chicago politics, and another lawyer just a year older who studied law in Chicago.
Comey was no virgin in political intrigue. But Trump's lack of shame and failure to cover up his political lies violated the unwritten oaths and rules that bound Washington lawyers (who only acknowledge their public lies privately to each other). This is the "higher loyalty" Comey meant in his book title.
At any time, Comey could have told Trump what he really thought. But instead, he sat silent, blaming Trump for talking too much and dominating meetings, then documenting the size of Trump's hands and the quality of his spray-tan for liberal fan fiction. Cowardly Comey leaked to the press, leaked his notes through a law school professor buddy of his, and continually tried to get Trump set up in a perjury trap. So much for loyalty.
(Alan Dershowitz raised a related interesting point about perjury traps to Sean Hannity Monday. The only reason Comey's FBI interviewed Hillary was to bolster his decision not to prosecute her. The decision had already been made--heck, the memo was already drafted. All Hillary had to do was not perjure herself, and she knew exactly that. If Mueller were to interview Trump, the only reason for taking his testimony would be to get him to purjure himself, so Trump should never give that opportunity.)
By Washington's own unwritten oaths, asking for someone's loyalty, asking for them to play it straight, is unthinkable. Everything has to be done at arm's length, with deniability. But Trump doesn't work that way. A bold man would have told Trump "no sir, I am not loyal to you, in fact I think you're a barbaric SOB and if I find out you're dirty, I'll be the first one to recommend your impeachment."
Trump might have fired Comey on the spot, but at least he'd know where he stood. The president may very well be the only one who plays it straight in Washington. I don't mean he's consistent in his views or dedicated to truth (far from either). I mean he will tell you what he wants from you, straight to your face. Washington would rather smile in your face and stab you in the back..
Donald Trump demands loyalty. He repays it with humiliation, power games, grandstanding, and ultimately, abandonment. That's how he is, and it's no secret. The best way to deal with such a man is with brutality--brutal honesty. Comey's higher loyalty isn't to honesty. It's to himself. Now Comey has to live with his own cowardice.