James Comey

George Washington’s lesson for Ukraine

[Getty Images]

The Australian morning TV host called me darlin’. We’d never met, but she opened with: ‘Good to have you on, darlin’. Be with you in a moment.’ Then the picture went black. When the live show returned to my Zoom screen, I was just another viewer, watching the three hosts seated on a couch half a world away chatting about the charity walk one of them had done over the weekend and the toll this had taken on his feet, which led – in a surprise twist – to a brief discussion of the strange internet hunger for images of feet. Somehow, the fetish conversation segued into a video montage with images of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and me from FBI days. Then I was live from my Virginia home, smiling in my fiction-writer sweater and wondering if they wanted to talk about the montage. Happily, they did not.

Two days later, our annual 4 July family reading of the Declaration of Independence was in person, for the second year now. It’s almost hard to remember when we did it by Zoom. The pandemic seems to slide down the memory hole without being pushed. For many years, my wife Patrice and I, along with the five kids (and spouses), have gathered on Independence Day to recite the long train of abuses and usurpations that impelled us to separation from our colonial overlords. My job is to assign the parts of the Declaration, which is organised in literal parts: long ago, some of our members printed out the text and then cut it into pieces and soaked them in coffee and lemon juice. It lent an authentic feel, they said, although it was never clear why they burnt the edges.

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