Learn How a Life-Threatening Situation Led James Comey to a Career in Law Enforcement and What He Learned Along the Way
Take a look at the fascinating life of James Comey.
From his start in law enforcement, prosecuting the insider trading case against Martha Stewart back in 2001, to working with three presidential administrations, Comey has seen it all and has plenty of stories to share.
Also hear about the numerous hardships he experienced throughout his life, including being bullied at school and coming face-to-face with a gunman who had broken into his home, as well as how these events helped shape him into who he is today.
Aside from law enforcement, Comey explains his views on what makes a good leader: according to him they should have 6 traits which include integrity, humility and humor.
These tidbits are among the many highlights found in this remarkable tale that He shares with us.
Finally Learn how dining with Donald Trump reminded Comey of a mob initiation during his tenure as FBI Director—an experience that influenced how he treated subsequent interactions during their tumultuous legal disputes over the years.
How Bullying, a Grocery Store Owner, and High Standards Shaped James Comey’s Life
James Comey’s formative years were shaped by two major events in his childhood.
First, he was repeatedly attacked and belittled by bullies while growing up in Allendale, New Jersey.
This painful experience taught him to pay close attention to body language and signs of aggression – as well as a lifelong desire to help the defenseless.
The second formative event came when Comey got a job at the local grocery store and met his boss, Harry Howell.
Comey learned critical lessons about being an effective leader; Howell was demanding but also showed mercy when needed – like when he didn’t berate Comey for spilling milk all over the floor.
These experiences not only motivated Comey to work harder than any punishment would have – it also influenced how he ran things during his time at the FBI.
The Importance of Humility and the Impact of a Life-Changing Incident: Lessons from James Comey
When James Comey was just sixteen-years-old, a gunman broke into his house and held him and his brother Pete at gunpoint.
It was a terrifying experience that certainly changed the course of his life, but luckily he and his brother were able to make it out with no physical harm.
This event made him think seriously about what matters most in life – especially how he can have a career with real value and purpose.
After reading about Reinhold Niebuhr’s philosophy, James realized that becoming a lawyer, helping the defenseless when encountering injustice in the world, was the best way to be of service.
As an Assistant U.S.
Attorney in Manhattan working for Rudy Giuliani, Comey accomplished great feats investigating organized crime syndicates like Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and members of the Gambino family.
But it wasn’t without its difficulties as Giuliani liked to do all the talking himself – teaching Comey a valuable lesson: Leaders need humility.
It had become clear to him that if you lacked this knowledge, those within your circle would feel threatened by your ego-driven agenda instead of giving helpful advice or truthfully presenting potential risks associated with decisions.
This phrase stuck with Comey throughout his career: “The most dangerous place to stand is between Rudy Giuliani and a microphone.”
The Power of a Good Leader: How Loyalty Is Achieved Through Confidence, Hard Work and Compassion
When FBI Director James Comey moved to Virginia in 1993 after prosecuting mobsters, he took with him valuable lessons in leadership and life.
Investigating the Sicilian mob revealed essential tips on how they ran their tight-knit organization through a delusional, fear-based leadership reliant on an oath of loyalty.
Comey soon realized that this same loyalty could be achieved by a leader who was humble, kind, and tough–setting an example with his or her own hard work and compassion.
At his new workplace in Eastern Virginia, he found such exemplary qualities within Helen Fahey.
Through her journey from typist to head of the US attorney’s office – all while raising children and continuing her education – Fahey demonstrated humility and kindness that earned her the respect of staff; enough that dozens of law enforcement personnel showed up when she was accused of contempt of court.
Comey learned from Fahey that loyalty is not to be measured by an oath or proclaimed rules; rather it is an obligation earned through confidence and respect which can lead to successful teams working together for mutual benefit.
James Comey Put Martha Stewart Behind Bars for Her Ethical Failings
Under a fair and ethical system of justice, prosecuting Martha Stewart was necessary.
After she heard insider information about the rejection of an important drug by regulators, she sold her stock in ImClone and saved $50,000.
But since this wasn’t public knowledge, it was considered illegal insider trading.
What made the case worse is that Stewart lied to federal investigators and attempted to cover up a conversation with her broker – implying that she knew what she was doing was wrong.
She even had her team of lawyers try to convince prosecutors that she shouldn’t be punished as someone rich like herself can afford a loss of $50,000 without trouble.
This argument was seen for what it is: an attempt to get away with breaking the law because of wealth rather than have justice served under an ethical system.
In spite of all this, investigations from Comey and other involved parties voted to prosecute the case instead of such influence being a reason not to do so.
Ultimately Martha Stewart received five months in prison due her offences – proving that no-one can escape justice regardless of their wealth or status; just as they should be in a fair and equitable system of justice.
James Comey’s Controversial Stand Against Unlawful Surveillance and Torture Policies in the DOJ
When James Comey joined the Department of Justice as Deputy Attorney General in 2003, he realized that existing government surveillance practices would not hold up in court.
Many of the policies authorized by White House staff following the September 11th attacks were no longer legal and had to be changed.
Consequently, Comey and his boss, John Ashcroft found themselves opposing a program called Stellar Wind being implemented by the National Security Agency (NSA).
This program allowed for unlawful surveillance of US citizens with no warrant or judicial oversight.
Comey was determined to ensure lawful practices when it came to government surveillance.
In a daring move to assert his authority, Comey threatened to quit if changes were not made – prompting President Bush to agree with their demands.
However, before any progress could be made, John Ashcroft became hospitalized with pancreatitis, leaving James Comey temporarily in charge and allowing vice president Dick Cheney and Chief of Staff Andrew Card another chance to extend the DOJ’s approval for Stellar Wind.
Undeterred, Ashcroft firmly denied their demands while lying in a hospital bed.
Comey: The Unwavering Defender of Limiting Torture at the DOJ
FBI Director James Comey not only fought the White House on their Stellar Wind program but also gave them a run for their money when it came to torture.
In 2004, horrific images of torture were coming out of Abu Ghraib, leading Comey to understand that current White House policies were based on brief DOJ memos issued after 9/11.
The problem was that these memos focused primarily on physical pain, and this led to some monstrous forms of interrogation such as water-boarding and forcing detainees to wear diapers.
As FBI Director, Comey was determined to get better, more humane policies passed in the face of Gonzalez’s apparent loyalty to his former boss (President Bush).
He made sure that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the matter at a May 2005 Security Council Meeting.
Unfortunately, Gonzalez shot down the idea stating Rice’s disinterest and thus stopping any progress from being made – prompting Comey’s resignation shortly after.
James Comey Embarks on a Mission to Bring Diverse, Independent Leadership to the FBI
When James Comey took the job of Director of the FBI, he was determined to create a more ethical and effective agency.
He wanted an organization that represented the diversity of America, one which could be a reliable law enforcement force that wouldn’t be misused like it had been in the past with first director J.
Comey understood that this would require strong leadership, so he made it his mission to ensure that the FBI strived towards goals of inclusivity and fair treatment while remaining apolitical as dictated by President Barack Obama.
Under his direction, he began a Recruitment Initiative aiming to make the FBI less white and male (which at 83% when he took office).
As well as bringing fresh faces and perspectives into the Bureau, this also helped reduce any potential for bias or misconduct as more people from a wider variety of backgrounds were appointed.
The hard work eventually paid off – Comey’s oversight saw an increase in diverse hiring practices throughout all levels of the Bureau, with improved training programs and greater transparency concerning misconduct.
In addition to these structural changes, Comey has also looked out for employees’ wellbeing with initiatives such as providing financial assistance during times of hardship.
James Comey Respectfully Learned from President Obama’s Great Leadership During Perilous Times
In 2015, the nation was in a state of great political and racial tension following violent police incidents.
It would have been too easy for President Obama to pick a side, but he didn’t – instead, he found a way to show understanding for both the Black Lives Matter and Police Lives Matters movements during his speech at a press conference.
This impressive display of leadership was not lost on FBI Director James Comey, who had already come to appreciate Obama’s skill as an effective leader during their meetings prior to September 4, 2013 when Comey was sworn in as director of the FBI.
He noticed that Obama carefully listened to what he had to say and then respectfully explained from the viewpoint of someone from a black neighborhood.
This action alone made it clear that Obama had great intelligence and sought out multiple points of view before forming his own opinion.
Apart from having a strong sense of integrity and decency, being humble yet confident, possessing good balance between toughness and kindness, striving for transparency in his motivations, recognition that people want meaning in their work and understanding that actions speak louder than words; Obama’s sense of humor also served to inspire James Comey’s admiration.
In particular, the fact that Obama’s humour did not come at the expense of others only added strength to his leadership qualities.
The Difficult Decision Faced by James Comey in 2016: To Reveal or Conceal Information About Hillary Clinton’s Email Investigation
During the 2016 election season, FBI Director Jim Comey had to make an incredibly difficult decision regarding the investigation into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails.
Although initially concluded that she had been discussing top secret information — and possibly exchanging classified documents from a non-government-secured account — through her own email account, further investigations on Anthony Weiner’s laptop offered up thousands more of Clinton’s emails from when she was using an AT&T Blackberry account.
The task at hand for Comey: how does he bring transparency about the case without potentially influencing the outcome of the election? To do nothing and try to keep it a secret would only come off as special treatment of Hillary Clinton, while opting for openness would mean taking a risk in terms of possible backlash no matter what decision they decided upon.
So, in October 28, 2016, Comey released a short statement that the case into Clinton’s emails had been reopened due to new evidence found during the investigation into Weiner’s laptop.
The Uncomfortable Moment James Comey Compares Donald Trump to a Mob Boss
When Jim Comey began to work with President Trump, he immediately saw similarities between him and the Mafia bosses he had worked to put behind bars.
At the briefing before the inauguration where intelligence agents informed Trump of Russian efforts to influence the US election, his team wanted to discuss ways in which they could use this information to their advantage – an action that reminded Comey of the Mafia’s shady tactics.
The ties continued into private conversations between Comey and Trump.
During a dinner where the president repeatedly asked for his loyalty, Comey was again struck by how similar Trump’s behavior was to some of the mobsters he had encountered in his past.
He even likened it to Sammy “The Bull” Gravano’s loyalty oaths during Cosa Nostra induction ceremonies.
It is clear that Trump’s words and actions throughout their relationship made an impression on then FBI Directors Jim Comey; one that reminded him of his time spent battling organized crime figures in previous moments in his career.
James Comey Uses His Memos to Fight Against Trump’s Abuse of Power
For several years, James Comey had served as the head of the FBI and was in California helping to promote his diversity recruitment drives when he received the surprise news that he had been fired by Donald Trump.
His eventual firing was unexpected, yet it pushed Comey to take action in order to set things right.
By leaking his memos which documented conversations with Trump revealing how the president asked him to make “the cloud” of the Russian investigation go away, as well as telling him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn, Comey hoped it could lead an investigation on whether or not these actions could qualify as obstruction of justice.
Though he is not sure if there is any solid evidence at present, he remains hopeful that justice will prevail in the end.
In James Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty, he reflects upon a career’s worth of lessons he’s learned about effective and successful leadership.
He espouses balance in all areas, where confidence is balanced with humility, integrity and decency are tightly intertwined, and an overall sense of humor helps get you through tough situations.
However, these values were quickly tested when President Trump fired him as FBI Director.
In Comey’s view, it happened because he refused to compromise his ethics to influence investigations on the president’s behalf.
Consequently, this final secion of A Higher Loyalty boils down to the lesson that when faced with challenging ethical issues in powerful positions – never shy away from your convictions – no matter the consequences.