Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

Comey's writing a book, and publishers are eager to pay big money for it

James B. Comey, the former FBI director who was fired in May by President Donald Trump, is writing a book about his experience in public service, including his tumultuous and brief tenure in the Trump administration.

Comey has been meeting with editors and publishers in New York in recent days, and he is being represented by Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer, partners at the literary agency Javelin. The book is expected to go to auction this week, and all the major publishing houses have expressed keen interest, Latimer said.

The book will not be a conventional tell-all memoir, but an exploration of the principles that have guided Comey through some of the most challenging moments of his legal career. Among those are his investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server during a contentious election, and his recent entanglement with the president over the FBI's inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

"It's a book about leadership and his search for truth, informed by lessons and experiences he's had throughout his career, including his recent experiences in the Trump administration," said Latimer, whose agency also represents Tucker Carlson and Donna Brazile. "It will speak to a broader desire in our country for more ethical leadership."

Comey has been unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight in recent months. When he was fired, Comey was four years into a 10-year term. He didn't go quietly. Instead, he leaked the contents of memos he had kept that documented his conversations with Trump, including, according to Comey, a conversation in which the president urged him to drop the federal investigation into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Almost immediately after his firing, agents and publishers pounced, setting off speculation that Comey was contemplating writing a book. News outlets ran articles positing that Comey could land an eight-figure advance for a memoir.

Comey was reluctant at first to entertain offers, but he later decided that he had something to say beyond a rehashing of his career highlights and low points, according to his agent. His aim is to write candidly about his experience serving in multiple administrations, and to use moments from his career to draw lessons about ethics, decision making and leadership.

During the years he spent in the Justice Department, Comey was involved in a number of prominent and politically fractious investigations. He clashed with White House officials serving under President George W. Bush in 2004 when, as deputy attorney general, he refused to certify the legality of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. As the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, he prosecuted lifestyle guru Martha Stewart for lying about her suspiciously well-timed stock trades, which resulted in multiple convictions.

And he played a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential race when he delivered a devastating blow to the Clinton campaign by announcing in late October that the bureau was investigating a newly discovered cache of emails from Clinton's private server. (Comey later said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that it made him "mildly nauseous" to think that his actions swayed the election.)

But the episode that will be of greatest interest to readers is Comey's account of his tenure as FBI director under Trump and his role in investigating a murky and explosive controversy that is still unfolding. After Trump fired Comey in May, he said he had done so because of the way Comey was handling the investigation into whether any of Trump's associates or campaign members had colluded with Russians in the Kremlin's efforts to tip the election in his favor. The firing created a furor and resulted in the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director, as special counsel to oversee the investigation.

Comey's book will go through the standard legal and governmental vetting to ensure that nothing classified is disclosed. But it may still contain some previously unrevealed details about Comey's dealings with Trump. After all, Comey is known to be an assiduous note-taker.

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