Former FBI director James Comey has released a book entitled, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership” bashing the Trump administration. Radio Sputnik discussed this with Roger Smith, Professor of Political science and Associate Dean for Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
Roger Smith: It certainly represents Comey’s anger at being fired by the President. The accuracy of all the particular claims is hard to assess. There’s no doubt that the general portrait of President Trump as a man who is volatile and often untruthful, that seems accurate to most of the American public. There aren’t any particular revelations about Trump that are all that novel or surprising in the book.
Sputnik: Do you think that Comey’s book will influence Donald Trump’s popularity among his voters?
Roger Smith: I don’t think it will really move the needle, either among Trump’s supporters or his opponents. It will reinforce how they already feel. Now, Trump is not a widely popular president although he has a lot of very devoted supporters. The book is getting attention from people who want to hear negative things about Donald Trump, but that means it’s not changing their minds.
Sputnik: Perhaps you can just allude to the facts surrounding why this book has resulted in such furious reaction from the US President?
Roger Smith: The president has furious reactions to all criticism levelled against him. He’s been as passionate against entertainment figures that have said negative things about him. So I don’t really think this is an unusual reaction from President Trump. His policy is to blast ferociously people who have said critical things of him and certainly Comey has said very critical things.
Sputnik: What’s your opinion on the matter that the former CIA director is talking about matters which are part of an ongoing investigation?
Roger Smith: There I cut Comey some slack to a certain degree. After all the president did fire him, Comey is now a private citizen and he has the same right to speak out on public issues as everyone else does unless he violates any confidentiality agreements in regard to his previous positions. And there haven’t been any claims that he has actually released any information that he wasn’t authorized to release.
Sputnik: What impact can this have on the Mueller probe? Do you believe there’s going to be some kind of negative effect with regard to this?
Roger Smith: I don’t think it will have any major effect on the Mueller probe. I think at most it might, by angrying some of the president’s allies, make it even less likely that the Congress will take action to protect Mueller from being fired by the president but the leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell indicated that he wasn’t going to permit any such legislation to come to a vote in any case. I don’t think Mueller’s own investigation will be impeded however and it will go wherever it goes.
Sputnik: The reports that have been coming out of America over the last couple of months have stated, especially with Comey’s clashes with Trump, that it’s been damaging the reputation of the intelligence agency. What’s your thoughts on that?
Roger Smith: I think there’s no question that all the controversy over investigations by the FBI and the CIA leading to criticisms from across the political spectrum about different aspects of their activities it has to lower their prestige over all. I don’t think that a Comey book per se, is a huge part of that but the truth is that members of both parties were unhappy with the way that Comey handled a number of aspects of the campaign investigations, Clinton and Trump both. He is not someone whose performance has by any means enhanced the reputation of the CIA or the FBI and this current book tour does add to the president’s description of him as something of a showboater. In this volatile Trump era, there’ll be new headlines, new stories next week and this will probably vanish from sight. I think Trump’s ultimate popularity will depend on how well he does, the major economic and national security problems facing the US in the world today and that very much remains to be seen.