For people outside the U.S., the seventh FBI Director James Comey, who served from September 2014 to May 2017, is just another of the officials somehow involved in the scandals surrounding the 2016 presidential election. For Americans, however, it is Comey who is one of the main reasons why Hillary Clinton was defeated and Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States.
James Comey is hated by Democrats, because it was he who initiated an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the election campaign while she was Secretary of State. Not only that, but then, just before the vote, Comey came out in favor of reopening the investigation he had already closed. James Comey is also hated by Republicans, because it was he who started the investigation into the influence of Russians on the election campaign in the United States and the alleged connection of President-elect Trump with the Russian government. After all, Comey was one of the first top U.S. officials fired by Trump and slung mud by his administration and himself.
James Comey, who was genuinely loved by the FBI and considered a professional in his field, was fired from his position on May 9, 2017. Remotely and without prior warning – just at that time the director was on a working visit to the Los Angeles office of the agency (the episode with the TV actually corresponds to reality). Literally immediately after that, Comey began working on his biography, paying attention to the events that caused this dismissal, favor, at the insistence of colleagues, he kept records of all conversations with President Trump and his entourage. On April 17, 2018, less than a year after the scandalous dismissal, Comey’s biography A Higher Loyalty was released by Macmillan Publishers and sold an impressive 600,000 copies. The title of the book refers to the episode in which Donald Trump demands personal loyalty from James Comey, which is not only ethically wrong, but also directly contradicts the principles of separation of powers in the United States.
CBS Television Studios (Showtime is their channel) has taken on the book adaptation, and the writer and director is Billy Ray, known for his screenplays for films such as The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips (Oscar nomination), Gemini Man and Richard Jewell. Interestingly, Alex Kurtzman, who is now responsible for the development of the Star Trek universe, is among the producers of the film.
The authors of The Comey Rule managed to assemble a good cast, the stars of which are Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom, The Looming Tower, Godless) and Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm, Mr. Mercedes, In Bruges), who played James Comey and Donald Trump, respectively. The performance of both actors, as well as the entire secondary cast of the series, deserves respect, but there is one serious problem here – almost none of the performers resemble their prototypes. And if not everyone remembers what James Comey looks like, then in the case of President Trump, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Sergey Lavrov and other familiar characters, these differences are striking. By and large, only two actors in the movie resemble the people they play, they are Holly Hunter, playing the role of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates under Attorney Loretta Lynch, and Scoot McNairy as Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General under Jeff Sessions. I’m afraid few of our readers know these statesmen, who nonetheless played a crucial role in the firing of James Comey.
The Comey Rule miniseries covers events from Comey’s appointment as FBI director in September 2013 to his appearance before the Senate committee investigating why he was so hastily fired in June 2017. By and large, it’s a nearly three-hour whitewash of James Comey and an attempt to explain what guided the FBI director in making certain decisions that are believed to have affected the election results. In brief, James Comey, who always focused on the good of the state and followed strict moral principles, tried by all means to minimize the damage that FBI investigations could cause to the credibility of U.S. government institutions. Unfortunately, his well-intentioned decisions, which were in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law, only exacerbated an already difficult situation. Comey had no good choice at that point.
The Comey Rule is interesting not only as an attempt to understand the events of four years ago, which still influence the political situation all over the planet, including our country (Ukraine is mentioned in the series only once, but in a very negative way), but also as a kind of manual on the structure of the different branches of government in the United States, their relationships and unwritten rules governing contacts between the branches. Although the huge number of minor characters involved in the series can make some confusion in understanding what is happening on the screen. And if for Americans most of these people, even despite their visual dissimilarity, are well known, viewers outside the U.S., who are not so familiar with minor political figures, will have a more difficult time.
Undoubtedly, the release of The Comey Rule on the eve of the presidential election is a well-thought-out political move by the Democratic establishment, many of whose representatives are among the movie and television makers. To miss such an excellent chance to remind voters about Trump’s ignorance, about his decision-making being guided by malice, malice and only malice, about Kremlin prostitutes and golden rain, about Trump’s narcissism and disregard for elementary rules of behavior in society, about his disregard for the rule of law, etc., would be simply foolish. Not only that, to be reminded by Trump’s own mouth, as it were, because most of the negativity towards Trump in the show comes from Trump himself, magnificently played by Brendan Gleeson. It is Trump who is obsessed with the prostitutes and golden rain story and reminds Comey of it many times.
Yes, the example of other countries (I am not implying anyone) has shown that TV shows work even better than serious election campaigning. Except that such use of James Comey’s book somewhat contradicts the principles of Comey himself, put in the title of the series. The former FBI director himself did everything not to cause additional damage to the US state institutions by his actions or inactions. Well, elections are a dirty thing, and sometimes you have to compromise your principles.
In any case, even despite the obvious political subtext, I would recommend this series to everyone who is interested in politics, and not only American. But you should watch it without hurry, analyzing the actions and words of each of the characters. Well and at the same time enjoying very good acting.
An interesting series that shows some details of political life in the United States that are not obvious to non-Americans
The series reveals some not-so-well-known details of the inner kitchen of the FBI and American politician; a visual demonstration of how different branches of government in the United States should and should not work; an explanation of the reasons and factors that influenced certain actions of officials during the 2016 election; good acting
Large number of minor characters, in which it is easy to get confused; some heroization of James Comey; most of the actors do not resemble their prototypes; obvious use of the series for political purposes
The Comey Rule.
Genre politics, biography
Creator Billy Ray
Starring Jeff Daniels (James Comey), Brendan Gleeson (Donald Trump), Michael Kelly (Andrew McCabe), Jennifer Elle (Patricia Comey), Holly Hunter (Sally Yates), Oona Chaplin (Lisa Page), Scoot McNairy (Rod Rosenstein), William Sadler (Michael Flynn), Theodore Raymond Knight (Reince Priebus), Kingsley Ben-Adir (Barack Obama), and others.
Year of release 2020