‘Hell, yes’

J. Robert Lennon

  • Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
    Simon & Schuster, 338 pp, £20.00, February 2017, ISBN 978 0 85720 902 3

Soon after firing James Comey, Donald Trump baited the former FBI director. ‘Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ Trump tweeted. Comey replied a month later, while testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. ‘Lordy,’ he said, ‘I hope there are tapes.’ David Grann couldn’t have known, when he began work on his absorbing, infuriating book about the crimes that helped shape the FBI, how many Americans would be looking to the agency today for salvation from their country’s ongoing political catastrophe. Comey’s ‘Lordy’ speaks volumes about the culture J. Edgar Hoover brought to the FBI during his nearly five decades of eccentric service: a set of rules and customs that embrace consistency, meticulous evidence-gathering and record-keeping, and obsessive attention to detail. Trump may yet manage to escape the forces that oppose him, but his flighty and impulsive outbursts, Comey seemed to imply, are catnip to a career Bureau man.

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