Bidding war set as Comey promises tell-all autobiography
UNITED STATES: Publishing houses will do battle this week for a hotly anticipated debut work from an author with little experience in the literary trade but a track record of stirring the entire nation into fits of outrage and amazement.
James Comey, the former director of the FBI who was fired by President Donald Trump in May and counterattacked with gripping testimony before the Senate, has begun working on a book about his life, ‘‘including his recent experiences with the Trump administration’’, one of his new literary agents, Matt Latimer, said.
His dismissal led to talk of obstruction of justice - an impeachable offence - that grew louder after the president acknowledged that the sacking was prompted by the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
Comey then leaked notes from a meeting in which he said that the president had urged him to drop an investigation into Mike Flynn, a retired general who was forced to resign as Trump’s national security adviser after it emerged that he had lied about telephone calls he made to the Russian ambassador before the inauguration.
Comey’s subsequent testimony before the Senate intelligence committee was packed with political drama and drew the attention of publishers and Hollywood executives who were imagining how his story might play before an even larger audience. Comey, 203cm tall and handsome, was compared to Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. ’’You are big, you are strong,’’ Senator Dianne Feinstein told him during the hearing. ‘‘Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr President, this is wrong?’’’
‘‘That’s a great question,’’ he replied. ‘‘Maybe if I was stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation ... I was playing in my mind what my response should be.’’
He threw in a reference to English history. He said that Trump speaking of General Flynn and asking him to ‘‘let this go’’ was not an explicit order, but put him in mind of the line: ‘‘Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’’ quoting Henry II’s plea that led to the murder of Thomas Becket.
The drama was heightened by the fact that Comey had been the bete noire of Trump’s election opponent Hillary Clinton, after publicly announcing two weeks before the election that he was reopening an investigation into her use of a private email account while she was secretary of state. Clinton later claimed that Comey’s intervention had lost her the election.
Latimer and Keith Urbahn, of the literary agency Javelin, said that Comey’s book would explore his guiding principles. ‘‘It’s a book about leadership and his search for truth, informed by lessons and experiences he’s had throughout his career,’’ Latimer said. It is expected to be offered to publishers in an auction this week. - The Times