Ex-FBI boss James Comey has hit out at Donald Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that leadership doesn’t mean ‘faking it so people don’t freak out’.
Comey, who Trump controversially fired while the FBI was investigating his administration’s ties with Russia, said the American people will ‘get through this pandemic crisis’ in spite of the lack of ‘effective national leadership’ from the president.
The former FBI director and former deputy attorney general made a series of thinly-veiled digs at the president’s response to the US outbreak in a column he penned for the Washington Post, published on Saturday.
‘People crave leadership when they are afraid. But leading well during a crisis does not mean “faking it so people don’t freak out,”‘ he wrote.
Ex-FBI boss James Comey has hit out at Donald Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that leadership doesn’t mean ‘faking it so people don’t freak out’
‘It doesn’t mean promising people all will be fine or lecturing them for being frightened.’
At no point did he name Trump in the piece, but he made many allusions to the US facing a lack of leadership while it grapples to bring the deadly outbreak under control.
‘Like this horrible virus, fear and anxiety are contagious. People in crisis watch closely and over-interpret a leader’s every word, gesture and tone,’ he wrote.
‘They spot exaggeration or a lack of authenticity. Good leaders try to tell their people the truth always, but especially in crisis. They correct the inevitable misstatements during an emergency and they admit when they don’t know an answer. They are honest about the current crisis but clear-eyed about the path out of it.’
Comey pointed to Queen Elizabeth II and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt as examples of strong leaders steering their nations through times of crisis.
Comey and Trump in 2017 before the president controversially fired him while the FBI was investigating his administration’s ties with Russia
Comey made a series of thinly-veiled digs at the president’s response to the US outbreak in a column he penned for the Washington Post, published on Saturday
He said the Queen’s response to the crisis has been ‘calm’ and ‘dignified’ and ‘offered a master class in leadership’.
He wrote: ‘She was calm, dignified, and above all, candid about the present, yet optimistic about the future. These are very hard times, she said, but we have been through hard times together in the past, and we will be okay if we unite around the values that have long sustained us.’
Comey cited Roosevelt’s speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, in which he praised his ‘candor’ and ‘honesty’ that Americans “‘must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories”‘.
Comey pointed to Queen Elizabeth II as an example of a strong leader amid the crisis saying she has been ‘calm’ and ‘dignified’ and ‘offered a master class in leadership’
‘That kind of honesty about the present is what makes possible reassurance about the future. Because the indispensable part of crisis leadership is this: No matter how pessimistic the leader is feeling about the present, the leader relentlessly communicates that we will be okay in the long run,’ wrote Comey.
The ousted FBI boss carried on laying into Trump, by reeling off a number of good leadership qualities that he suggests the president lacks.
‘Ingredients’ of leadership include ‘authenticity, honesty and relentless, reasoned optimism’ and ‘candor — as opposed to sugarcoating the situation,’ he said.
This comes just days after Comey tweeted that he will run for president as an April Fool’s joke
Comey ended with a powerful speech telling readers the US will come out of the crisis and know what it means to have a good leader when it does.
‘Even without effective national leadership, we will get through this pandemic crisis. We will meet again and, when we do, the United States will be a better country, with a much deeper appreciation for what leadership requires,’ he wrote.
This comes just days after Comey tweeted that he will run for president.
On April 1, he posted a tweet suggesting he was joining the 2020 race for the White House saying: ‘I’m in. We need someone in the middle. #2020’.
While it was touted as an April Fool’s joke, Saturday’s column adds to the illusion that he has his sights set on a new job.
There’s been no love lost between Comey and Trump ever since the president controversially fired the FBI director.
Trump turfed out the head of the FBI in May 2017 while Comey was leading the investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign had colluded with Russia.
However the president claimed the move was over Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.
The shock firing made Trump only the second president in US history to fire his FBI director.