Criminal Justice & the Rule of Law

Why I Do Not Hate Donald Trump

Jim Baker
Friday, May 10, 2019, 9:45 AM

Many people would probably believe me justified in hating Donald Trump.

Trylon of Freedom outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Matthew Kahn)

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Many people would probably believe me justified in hating Donald Trump.

While I was general counsel of the FBI, I watched the president fire my boss and friend, Jim Comey. I’ve read and heard the many false statements that the president and his supporters have made about him. I’ve also read many of the president’s harsh and erroneous statements about the FBI, the Department of Justice and the people who work at both of those places. The Mueller report describes troubling conduct by the president concerning the Justice Department. I fear the short- and long-term damage such statements and actions will have on those institutions to which I have dedicated most of my professional life; I fear the consequences for the rule of law itself in the United States.

On an even more personal level, I was removed from my job as FBI general counsel after serving under Director Chris Wray for a few months. The president has tweeted and spoken about me personally, uncharitably and by name, on several occasions. Some people who support the president also have said negative things about me publicly. All of that attention impacted me negatively in numerous ways—both personally and professionally—over the past few years.

But I do not and will not respond to Donald Trump with hatred. To the contrary, I have come to believe that the best approach for me regarding President Trump—the only approach—is love. I will try to love him.

I will try to love him as a human being. I will try to love his family. And most importantly, I will try to love his supporters—all of them. Loving Donald Trump and loving his supporters is the best way for me to love America and to honor those who sacrificed so much for my freedom.

I recognize that this view will strike some people as naive, even foolish. I know it may sound weak. But the love I am speaking of is not submission, acquiescence, obedience or deference. Love is strong, it is bold, and it can be defiant. Love resists evil, hatred, bigotry, and all other forces that dehumanize, oppress, victimize or degrade others. Love is the opposite of those values. It is the most powerful resistance to those forces. Loving someone does not mean that you approve of or condone his or her words and deeds.

I admit that loving Donald Trump is a challenge for me. But my journey over the past several years has convinced me that I must try.

Before saying more about that personal journey, I first want to address some of the public criticism of me and of the FBI itself, much of which has come in the context of the FBI’s investigation of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. I want to make clear that my argument for love in no sense represents an acknowledgment that the investigation is fundamentally defective. Indeed, the various charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his report show clearly that it is not.

Jim Baker is a contributing editor to Lawfare. He is a former Deputy General Counsel of Twitter, the former General Counsel of the FBI, and the former Counsel for Intelligence Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice. In that latter role, from 2001-2007, he was responsible for all matters presented to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of any current or former employer.

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