“Here comes the bar mitzvah boy,” the New York Times’s Mark Leibovich exclaimed when Comey arrived at the Newseum’s seventh floor to celebrate his best-selling memoir, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”
It was, Comey said, his first and perhaps his last-ever book party. Like any intimate affair among friends, the evening began with a makeshift news conference.
“Can you confirm that Pat Fitzgerald is representing you in some way?” Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Comey, referring to news he had hired the former U.S. attorney as one of his lawyers.
“Yes, he’s been representing me since I was fired,” Comey said.
“Mr. Comey, do you expect to see more Democrats or Republicans at this party?” a New York Times reporter interjected.
“I have no idea!” Comey answered. “I didn’t do the invites.”
“How sensitive are you to when people say, ‘He’s a show pony,’ ” asked Jonathan Swan of Axios.
“I know myself,” Comey said.
Towering above the 100 or so guests who showed up, the 6-foot-8 Comey — fresh off interviews with “Fresh Air,” “Good Morning America,” “The Daily,” “The View” — was, yet again, easily accessible. Amid the cones of tuna tartare, pork belly buns and brisket tacos, D.C.’s chattering class chattered away (the grudging consensus: The book is actually a gripping read).
“Though I do wish he left some stuff out,” said a woman who used to know Comey from her days working at the White House. “We are all a bunch of prigs in Washington, after all.”
Okay, it is not entirely fair to imply Comey is the least popular man in America. Yes, the party featured more broadcasters than bosom buddies (CNBC’s John Harwood, CNN’s Ryan Lizza, not to mention a whole slew of Washington Post reporters), but not everyone represented the Fourth Estate.
Just look over there, standing by the bar considering whether she wants to order the “Deep State” signature cocktail: It is former DNC chair Donna Brazile!
“I got lots of shade for my book, and he got lots of shade,” Brazile said. “I wanted to come out to show him my support.”
She continued: “We had the same agent, and he did a fantastic job rolling out my book.”
Former director of national intelligence James Clapper was at the party, too, telling anyone who would listen that his tie — checked with little martini glasses — made a cameo on page 201 of Comey’s book.
“I’m a friend and admiring colleague of Jim’s, and I wanted to be here for him,” Clapper said.
He continued: “The real reason I came is because my book comes out next month, and I wanted to see how these things worked.”
For Comey, here is how it worked: The party might have been a sparsely attended and low-key affair (red wine was served in paper cups in homage to Comey’s drink aboard an airplane when he found out he was fired), but that does not mean he did not have anything to celebrate.
The book’s sales, his literary agents at Javelin announced to the crowd, would soon be at 750,000, moving at a pace far quicker than sales by other authors such as Michael Wolff and Clinton — proving once again that in This Town you do not have to be well-liked to be successful.