From The New Yorker :
On Friday afternoon, James Baker, the former general counsel of the F.B.I., felt a tinge of optimism. Almost two years ago, he was ousted from his position as the Bureau’s top legal official, after President Trump fired the F.B.I.’s director, James Comey. Baker, a career Justice Department official and a longtime Comey ally, had approved the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia investigation and the monitoring of a former Trump campaign adviser’s communications. Trump welcomed the news of Baker’s removal in a tweet: “Wow, ‘FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned.’ ” In subsequent tweets and retweets, the President accused Baker of lying to Congress and being part of an “Unconstitutional Hoax” and an “attempted coup.”
Baker considered Trump’s claims about him to be completely false, but he said nothing publicly at the time. (The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the origins of the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia investigation and found no wrongdoing.) “I believed that, once I was out of the F.B.I., I could resume a normal life and avoid the spotlight,” he told me last week, in his office at the R Street Institute, a conservative and libertarian think tank, where he directs the national-security program. “But that was inaccurate, because the damage had already been done by the President’s tweets and stories about me on Fox News and other outlets.” Baker, once considered one of the government’s most trusted national-security officials, found that Trump’s attacks impacted his ability to find a job. “Certain corporations and law firms thought that I was too controversial and didn’t want to hire me,” Baker recalled. “It surprised me and was dispiriting.” Over time, he became convinced that Trump was improperly using his powers as President to maintain his hold on power. Baker decided to push back. “At a certain point, I became unafraid of Donald Trump,” he said. “I felt, O.K., I can speak out. And also, I have an obligation to speak out.” In May, Baker began publicly attacking what he called Trump’s “false narrative that there was a coup, and a conspiracy, and treason.”
On Friday, Baker lauded Marie Yovanovitch, a career foreign-service officer and the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who also decided to push back against Trump.
Baker told me that Trump’s failure so far to discredit the whistle-blower had weakened his power to silence current and former officials. “He tried to smash the whistle-blower, and it didn’t work,” Baker said. “One of the things that Donald Trump has trafficked in is fear. And, once people are no longer afraid of him, I think more people will come forward.”
Baker, though, believes that it is worth trying to counter Trump’s narrative. As part of his personal effort, he published an essay, in May, on the Lawfare Web site: “Why I Do Not Hate Donald Trump.” In it, he argues that deriding the President and his supporters is the wrong tactic. Instead, citing Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Baker suggests responding with grace, decency, and fact. He concedes that this approach may strike many as foolish or naïve. “All I know is that I have a small grain of sand that I can contribute to the effort, and I want to put it on the right side of the scale,” he told me. “If many people do that, then it can make a difference.” He commended Yovanovitch, saying, “She’s taking a risk and putting her grain of sand on the scale. It sounds like she is pursuing the truth with the goal of helping protect the American people and upholding the Constitution.”
- “The New Yorker”: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/public-servants-versus-donald-trump