In 2016, during the campaign for the US presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to communicate state and classified top secret content led the FBI to launch an investigation. The director of this federal agency would communicate, in May 2016, the decision not to initiate legal proceedings against Clinton, because there was no criminal intent in the act of the former “secretary of state”, a body similar to that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. .
But a few weeks before the election of the same year, the case was investigated again, when the FBI found on the iPad of Anthony Weiner (a politician then married to one of Clinton’s aides and charged with sex offense by minors) thousands of emails containing even more information that could not have been shared through a personal email account, as it was a violation of security rules.
If you don’t remember, “The Comey Rule” is the miniseries (it’s actually another three-and-a-half-hour movie, split into four parts), which premiered this week on HBO Portugal ( all four episodes are already available), it will remind you of a key moment in the Trump campaign. The title “Comey” refers to James Comey (played by Jeff Daniels), the director of the FBI who took office during Obama’s second term in 2013 and was fired by Donald Trump in 2017. “Comey’s Rule Is based on the book the former director of the federal agency wrote, Loyalty to All Evidence (Presence), in the original A Higher Loyalty.
Is this a campaign mini-series, as some American media have described it? In the past, there have been objects of this kind. In 2008, another election year, HBO released the TV movie “Recount”, about the 2000 election and the vote recount in Florida, a moment that brought victory to George W. Bush. Although “The Comey Rule” appears here on HBO Portugal, it was a Showtime production that was set to debut after the election. But writer and director Billy Ray complained, was overheard, and the premiere came at a more convenient time.
Coming back to the question: it may not be a “campaign” production, but “it has a campaign”, it is undeniable. Billy Ray strives to show both sides of the story at crucial points in the narrative. Rod Rosenstein (Scoot McNairy), the attorney general who signed the memorandum that led to Trump’s decision to fire James Comey (after an intense, troubled, and out of tune relationship), is an old man from Restelo in “The Comey Rule” and not miss an opportunity to demonize the former director of the FBI. At one point you are reminded that “the buildings over there” – in the streets of Washington DC – should remind you of respecting the laws and rules they founded and that exist in the United States.
Billy Ray has built a series around the figure of Comey, sure, but the main objective is to show that institutions stay, even if people go through them, with better or worse marks. The past four years have allowed us to work on a suspicious narrative that has since been turned into truth, like Michael Flynn’s involvement with the Russians. Michael Flynn (William Sadler) was the first of several national security advisers Donald Trump has had in his first term (six so far Obama has had three in two, George W. Bush two in two ). He held the post for 24 days, between January 20, 2017 and February 13, when it was discovered that he had lied about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
[o trailer de “The Comey Rule”:]
Flynn is a needle in a haystack in this story. A parallel episode that still occurs in the first moment of the story – before the election of Donald Trump – to create a link with a hypothesis of redemption of James Comey. The first two chapters revolve around the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails, how the reopening of the investigation – which was going nowhere – could have affected the election results. Decision that was taken reaching the ears of James Comey possible involvement of the Russians with the election campaign and, above all, with Donald Trump.
With Trump elected, the short relationship with James Comey begins. The president is played by Brendan Gleeson. Trump is a ubiquitous figure in the first part of “The Comey Rule”. He appears on his back, consuming the viewer in anticipation of what will happen. Gleeson is grotesque to interpret it, exploiting a Donald Trump that we are not used to seeing, the one behind the scenes, the one that exists when no camera is on. It’s the Donald Trump of James Comey’s notes, vile and ruthless. Devil in Gleeson’s shoes.
It’s a more caricatured description in a series that for the most part don’t go this route. But, on the other hand, in the narrative, it is a necessary caricature to make it visible that people – and their wills – cannot destroy American democracy. Or at least that’s what the screenwriter thinks. When Comey and Trump are together in the same room, a ring is simulated. A struggle for values in which Comey is just the figure fighting for the interests of the United States – and of the institutions, in this case the FBI. And perhaps here the political campaign side of the miniseries is revealed. Still, are you looking for a good reason to stay awake until the first presidential debate this Wednesday morning? Try “The Comey Rule” as an aperitif.