Again and again, it is President Trump’s quiet, patient modesty that shines through. Especially compared to the suffocating loud-mouthed arrogance of his predecessor.
It was Mr. Trump’s own Department of Justice that determined that its own agents and lawyers had abused their power in persecuting retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and moved to drop all charges against him. After all, the foundation of the investigation into Flynn had turned out to be a fantastical conspiracy concocted by political enemies, DOJ had used highly duplicitous means to entrap Flynn, and the frontline agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe he had intentionally lied.
And of course, the only reason Flynn pleaded guilty is that two years and $5 million into this whole Kafka-esque nightmare, the retired Three Star agreed to plead guilty in exchange for assurances that the same power-drunk liars who destroyed him would not do the same to his son. Any devoted father would have done the same thing.
When the news broke that Flynn had been exonerated, Mr. Trump learned about it like the rest of us.
Certainly, there had been rumors and court filings beforehand that had sparked widespread commentary about Flynn’s case. And President Trump being President Trump, he had commented volubly on the topic.
“I think he’s a fine man,” Mr. Trump said many, many times. “I think it’s terrible what they did to him.”
Seeking to bait Mr. Trump into negative stories they were plotting, reporters asked the president whether he would bring Flynn back into the White House.
“It’s something that nobody’s asked me. You’re asking me for the first time,” he said. “I would certainly consider it. Yeah, I would.”
No top secret meetings. No huddling in the Oval Office behind closed doors to plot a miscarriage of justice. No confabs with the most powerful operatives in his government to conspire against his political enemies.
Just wide-open, off-the-cuff musings from a perilously-open mind. That is President Trump, leader of the free world.
Now, compare that to his predecessor, who weaponized the Justice Department like nothing we have seen in the better part of a half century. President Barack Obama’s first Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. famously described his role in the Department of Justice as Mr. Obama’s “wingman.”
Meaning, of course, that Mr. Holder used his position as America’s top law enforcement officer to shoot down and destroy Mr. Obama’s enemies. Say, for instance, a retired three star general that Mr. Obama fired as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency over his criticisms of Mr. Obama’s prosecution of the war on terror.
Now, certainly, Mr. Obama had every right to fire Flynn. That is any president’s prerogative.
But it was a wild abuse of power for Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice to hatch an elaborate conspiracy to entrap Flynn after he later became a political enemy.
Compare Mr. Trump’s hands-off approach to Flynn’s case to the intimately-involved approach of his predecessor.
In the weeks leading up to Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Mr. Obama stunned members of his own administration with his intimate knowledge of the Flynn case during a secret meeting with his top intelligence henchmen in the Oval Office.
Even in jubilant victory after the Flynn case got dropped, Mr. Trump kept the focus precisely where it belonged. Instead of just brooding over the treatment of one man, Mr. Trump was more concerned about the larger issue of unjust abuse of power at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.
“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States,” Mr. Trump said in a triumphant Twitter message.
A few minutes later, Mr. Trump added in all capital letters: “Dirty cop James Comey got caught!”
Obviously, such boisterous gloating over the ruination of fired and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey is not exactly quiet or modest. But, wisely, the president keeps the political squabbling in the political realm where it belongs. Mr. Trump does not allow his political fever to infect the judicial process as his predecessor did.
Mr. Trump’s extreme modesty allows his Attorney General William P. Barr to act with the same judicial modesty and reverence for the rule of law.
At a press conference Monday, Mr. Barr lamented the “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.” He vowed the practice would end under Mr. Trump, telling reporters that his department is not presently seeking criminal charges against either Mr. Obama or his vice president, Joe Biden.
“The legal tactic has been to gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories,” Mr. Barr fretted. “This is not a good development.”
• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @charleshurt on Twitter.