The Comey Rule Recap: The Colorful Line

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The Comey Rule

Night Two

Season 1

Episode 2

Editor’s Ranking

3 stars

The Comey Rule

Night Two

Season 1

Episode 2

Editor’s Ranking

3 stars

Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS Tv

Politically talking, The Comey Rule lands broadly below the Lincoln Mission and #Resistance umbrella: mostly center of the aspect twin carriageway on policy but obsessed on nationwide security, general decency and decorum, and the integrity of authorities institutions. Maybe the most prominent guardians of this vaunted reasonableness are — or had been, anyway — males love James Comey, a Republican, and Robert Mueller, a Republican, and others who were exiled into the political barren region now that Trump has fully remade the occasion. For those on the left, one frustrating aspect of this complete affair has been feeling love spectators to an intraparty squabble, though clearly the outcomes of hyperpartisanship and the politicization of institutions (the FBI, the CDC, the fucking USPS) were a comprehensive loss for democracy.

The Comey Rule is wholly on Comey’s aspect by technique of all this rigmarole, a proven truth that’s made clearer within the 2d half of the miniseries than in the vital. Author-director Billy Ray without a doubt registers the frustrations of those that are afflicted by Comey’s resolution-making — no longer least his wife and daughters, who carry out their views known within the Ladies individuals’s March — but it tries to think his pondering as precisely and plausibly as you would possibly well take into consideration. To that cease, the assortment, significantly “Night Two,” is extra dignified and compelling than many of the cable-TV motion photos and miniseries which possess tried to recap the political events of the day. It doesn’t possess an awfully interesting point of view on Comey, but it dramatizes his version of events with a scrupulousness that issues. If any individual at some point soon wonders, What was the take care of James Comey?, this miniseries would possibly well well perhaps be primer.

The 2d fragment also brings in Brendan Gleeson as Trump, and he’s exceptionally appropriate. Gleeson gets the bodily details appropriate — the hulking gait, the interesting intakes of breath earlier than talking, the system he moves to impose himself on others in a room — but he has also internalized Trump’s paranoia and narcissism as effectively because the ham-handed strongman tactics he uses to articulate his will. The scenes between Trump and Comey would possibly well well perhaps be silly if they weren’t so alarming: Comey the Boy Scout, so dedicated to protocol and the sparkling paintings of diplomacy, squaring off in opposition to a boor who barely notices the total norms he’s squishing on the bottom of his costume shoes. It’s love Bambi Meets Godzilla.

After a first half that specializes in Comey’s role within the Hillary Clinton email investigation and its seemingly close on the 2016 election, the 2d turns to the Russia investigation, which, pointless to articulate, was no longer so favorable to Trump. From the originate up, Trump doesn’t appreciate the role that Comey and the FBI possess to play in coping with Russia’s efforts to persuade the election. And it doesn’t subject how Comey or anybody else frames it: Trump is assured that that is a subject of nationwide security geared in direction of retaining democracy from assault by a foreign adversary. Trump insists on Comey making it remark to the nation that he, personally, is no longer a target of the investigation. Comey can by no diagram allay his considerations. No person would possibly well well perhaps.

Hence the title of Comey’s book, A Increased Loyalty. Of their now-rotten personal dinner (about which Comey wrote broad contemporaneous notes), that’s the quiz Trump has for him, with the tacit thought that his job as FBI director is at stake. It will nonetheless were known then — it’s positively known now — that Trump understands the many institutions of authorities as merely extensions of his energy and can because the chief executive. There’s no appreciate for the “sharp line” between the FBI and the Oval Situation of job, or between the Oval Situation of job and the Division of Justice and Attorney Unparalleled. Comey would learn that the laborious diagram, as would Jeff Classes, who punched his model after recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

The Comey Rule mourns the loss of life of the profession-long public servant below Trump. When Performing Attorney Unparalleled Sally Yates comes into her map of business the day after the election, she tells her individuals, “In the present day is a day to be conscious that that is a politically agnostic institution.” Even after she is fired, she tells her assistant, Justin — an utterly ridiculous advent, incidentally — that he would possibly well well perhaps without a doubt feel better if he steps out onto Pennsylvania Avenue and looks on the structures, which will nonetheless be standing long after they and all their colleagues are long past. (We sure about that, Sally?) Within the Oval Situation of job, Obama soberly talks about striking the brand new president on steady footing and the usage of sanctions to punish the Russians for his or her actions. He was a believer in obvious longstanding traditions of public service too, in conjunction with a unruffled switch of energy to a guy who spent months denying his general eligibility to be president.

One elementary lesson of the Trump presidency is that democratic and institutional norms require all events to participate in show to work, significantly the person on the tip. The firing of Comey was most attention-grabbing the vital of many stress assessments the authorities would fail in keeping Trump responsible. In “Night Two,” Comey is utterly convinced that he would possibly well well perhaps by no diagram be fired because of it’s a ways also evident to each person that Trump was obstructing justice within the Russia investigation. What he didn’t perceive was that his firing would carry out Trump’s motives evident, even with Rod Rosenstein doing his most attention-grabbing to finesse the language, but that nothing would happen to him. From there, he would possibly well well perhaps lawful region about ruining the lives of anybody who defied him or who gave the impression insufficiently genuine, in conjunction with the full FBI team in The Comey Rule and, years later, anybody who came forward within the impeachment hearings.

The annoyance of gazing all of this play out in The Comey Rule is that Comey need to nonetheless possess seen this coming. The Attorney Unparalleled is the very very most attention-grabbing-ranking law-enforcement official within the land, with the FBI director lawful one notch below within the hierarchy. So it was Comey’s job to snuff out rotten actors and know their modus operandi, yet he appears to be like utterly blinkered about the person he’s coping with, despite abundant proof — in his presence, no less — that Trump was extra than capable of firing him and making sure the total previously apolitical parts of the federal authorities would possibly well well perhaps help him personally.

Ray’s valorization of Comey is an irritation. So Comey gets to recede the FBI along with his integrity intact, vivid that his “better loyalty” to the company guided his actions in both the Clinton email affair and the Russia investigation. Honest for him! Meanwhile, his legacy in sharp phrases lies in serving to Trump gather elected and getting steamrolled for his anguish. That final fragment was presumably unavoidable — Trump would also dump Classes, the vital senator to make stronger his campaign and simply his most attention-grabbing Cabinet member, and later sabotage his effort to return to the chamber — but Comey’s feeling of lawful satisfaction is a cold comfort, even earlier than you gather to scenes of him comforting a crying agent or asking his driver about his kid’s recital.

Nonetheless, there’s worth in Ray’s sturdy technique to docudrama, which avoids moments of glib irony and by no diagram becomes one of those up to the moment political dramas whereby a title forged gathers for what appears to be like love a Saturday Night Are dwelling episode without jokes. For the total detrimental issues that would possibly well well perhaps merely moreover be acknowledged about Comey — about his self-esteem, his fecklessness, his self-aggrandizement, his naïveté — he doesn’t lack credibility, on the very least in his myth of what happens on this tumultuous duration for the FBI and the nation. In various phrases, the events in The Comey Rule ring appropriate. How we process those events is our industry.

• “We’re going to be ample. America will decide this out”: The Comey Rule would possibly well well perhaps very effectively be improved by Ron Howard’s narrator from Arrested Pattern (e.g., “It wouldn’t”).

• “Fully Comey can violate division norms, throw an election, and nonetheless gather an ‘attaboy’ from the outgoing president”: Rosenstein is painted as an opportunist within the assortment, but he’s no longer infamous here.

• Of the vital episode, I complained that Michael Flynn’s meeting with the Russians was handled somewhat clumsily — being suggested that Jill Stein would possibly well well perhaps be at his desk, to illustrate — but it can perchance’t be emphasized sufficient how tiring and self-damaging Flynn’s dealings with Russia earlier than Trump’s inauguration turned out to be. That comes by technique of effectively here.

• “The Handshake” conducted love the “And … scene” of the 2016 election, and Comey knew it.

• The hotel trysts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Web page without a doubt attain seem love scenes in accordance to a Trump tweet.

• “The FBI is ethical. The FBI is solid. And the FBI is and repeatedly will be self sufficient.” Paging Ron Howard yet again!

The Comey Rule Recap: The Colorful Line

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