Sunday, May 21, 2017

The New Yorker — What Kind Of Loyalty Does A President Need?

The New York Times reported, a week after Trump’s inauguration, then-FBI Director James Comey was “summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.” Comey said that during the dinner Trump asked him to pledge his loyalty. Comey responded by only promising the president that he could be honest, according to associates close to Comey.

In a Fox News interview, Tump denied asking Comey for loyalty. "No, no I didn't, but I don't think it would be a bad question to ask. I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important. You know, I mean it depends on how you define loyalty," Trump said.

There are not various definitions of loyalty, Mr. Trump. There are different ways of describing loyalty but there are not “alternatives.”

A way of describing loyalty was made by newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in an address at the FBI’s 100 Year Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony in July 2008.

In that speech, Mueller connects fidelity with integrity.

For most of us, fidelity (loyalty) is faithfulness to an obligation, trust, duty to country, justice, the law, the Constitution, and to equality and liberty. “It is the quality of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.

“For the men and women of the FBI, integrity is reflected in all that we say and we do—in honesty, in keeping promises, in fairness, in respect for others, and in compassion.”

It sets expectations for behavior. And it’s a way of life.

Loyalty is trust gained from earned respect and honesty, and honesty Donald Trump does not possess.

Our experience with Trump’s actions and behaviors are enough evidence for us to say, not only honesty but that he possesses none of the aforementioned qualities.

The Atlantic’s Mckay Coppins, in The Myth of Trump's Loyalty, writes, "Despite his boasts, the president built his success on his willingness to toss aside mentors, friends, and family members during moments of frustration and chaos."

Your loyalty, Mr. Trump, is the question we should be asking you.

Photograph By Wally Mcnamee / Corbis / Getty
What Kind Of Loyalty Does A President Need?

U.S. Presidents throughout history have long defined loyalty differently. Lyndon B. Johnson’s definition was extreme; Trump’s definition has so far proved disastrous.

By Jeff Shesol