President Trump’s week ended with the sudden departure of a speechwriter who had been accused of brutally attacking his wife, the president’s defense of another staffer who allegedly assaulted two ex-wives
.. The president learned at a very early age that what humiliates, damages, even destroys others can actually strengthen his image and therefore his bottom line.
.. The White House lets it be known that Kelly is in the doghouse. Yet the president himself goes out of his way to speak publicly in defense of the ousted aide, without so much as a nod toward what the women have suffered.
1) Always double down on your position.
Trump has regularly argued in favor of men on his side who’ve been accused of bad behavior against women, whether that was
- Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama;
- Fox News figures Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly; last week’s case du jour,
- Rob Porter; or
- Trump himself. He weathered the “Access Hollywood” tape that many of his aides thought would sink his campaign, and he successfully batted away
- allegations from more than a dozen women that he was guilty of sexual misconduct toward them.
Saturday morning, the president tripled down. “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” he tweeted. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
2) The president must always be the focus of attention. Aides who get too big for their britches won’t be around for long.
.. Whether or not Kelly leaves, he has been knocked down several notches, especially in the public’s view. He’s been shown who’s boss, in case he had harbored any doubts.
Trump, contrary to the caricature he fostered on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” rarely excommunicates close aides forever. They almost all remain in his orbit even if he has publicly humiliated them or sent them off for a long vacation.
.. But they must always learn that those who attempt to grab some of the limelight will be dealt with.
.. When erstwhile chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon made the cover of Time — for Trump still a vital marker of making it big, even as the magazine’s influence has severely waned — he was done for, at least for now.
.. He learned in the 1970s from his mentor Roy Cohn that when you face criticism, justified or not, “you tell them to go to hell and fight the thing,” as Cohn said.
.. Trump instead leaned hard on the accelerator, ratcheting up his rhetoric, pressing for a convention lineup that doubled down on appealing to his base — Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” the chief of Ultimate Fighting Championship, music by Southern, white classic rock acts.
.. In the 1980s, Trump not only didn’t push back when tabloid newspapers turned the collapse of his first marriage into a daily soap opera; Trump actively participated in the scripting of the drama, calling gossip writers, dishing out salacious morsels almost by the hour.
.. “The show is Trump,” he said then, “and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”
.. Trump had discovered in painting oneself as the rich celebrity ordinary Americans aspire to be.
Obama called it “the unfounded optimism of the average American — ‘I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don’t make it, my children will.’ ”
.. he recognized that bad behavior and the notoriety it generated didn’t undermine that image. For many people, it actually enhanced it.
.. visionary business leaders succeed “because they are narcissists who devote their talent with unrelenting focus to achieving their dreams, even if it’s sometimes at the expense of those around them.”
In comments to reporters at the White House on Friday, Donald J. Trump stirred controversy by lavishing an alleged wife beater with praise that he historically has reserved for child molesters and Nazis.
Reporters who heard the President’s comments were taken aback since, in the past, the President had given no indication that he held wife beaters in the same high esteem in which he holds supporters of child abuse and white supremacy.
“We knew that President Trump considered child molesters and Nazis very fine people, but this was the first time he had put wife beaters up there, too,”
.. “Donald Trump has made it very clear that he can be the champion of wife beaters, child molesters, and Nazis at the same time,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t play favorites.”
.. his most biting remarks were directed at Mr. Kelly, whose about-face on the accusations against Mr. Porter capped a tumultuous week for the chief of staff.
.. Mr. Porter’s resignation marks a blow to Mr. Kelly. As the chief of staff seized control of the West Wing, Mr. Porter played an increasingly important role, and Mr. Kelly relied on him.
.. Mr. Porter predated his boss’s arrival in the White House—he was an acquaintance of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, when both attended college, and he was hired at the start of the administration by former staff chief Reince Priebus
.. The White House hired Mr. Porter for the job at the recommendation of Sen. Orrin Hatch
.. had an impressive resume and political pedigree. His father, Roger Porter, was an adviser to former President George H.W. Bush.
On Wednesday, we learned that during a 2017 background check for the former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, his two ex-wives both told the F.B.I. that he had abused them
- His first wife, Colbie Holderness, gave the F.B.I. a photo of her with a black eye, a result, she said, of Porter punching her in the face during a vacation in 2005.
- Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, shared a 2010 emergency protective order she’d received after he punched in the glass on her door while they were separated.
.. The White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly knew about these allegations, which are said to be the reason the F.B.I. never gave Porter a full security clearance,
.. Porter’s past was apparently not considered a problem inside the White House until it became public. This tells us quite a bit about how seriously this administration takes violence against women.
.. Kelly reportedly urged Porter not to resign
.. President Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from Porter calling his ex-wives’ accounts “simply false” and part of a “coordinated smear campaign.”
.. In what was perhaps a rare outbreak of candor by omission, she didn’t bother with a pro forma statement that the White House condemns domestic violence.
.. “I was exposed to a far wider array of classified and sensitive information in the White House job than as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency,”
.. It’s hard to see why Kelly, who was supposed to be the disciplined adult in this administration, would cover for Porter. Unless, that is, he genuinely couldn’t grasp that domestic violence is a big deal.
.. the abuse charges were the origin of Trump’s derisive nickname for Bannon: “Bam Bam.”
.. Andy Puzder, the former head of Carl’s Jr. and Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary.
.. Trump himself was accused of domestic assault by his first wife, Ivana Trump
.. Hurt wrote that Donald Trump became enraged after scalp reduction surgery left him in pain, and blamed his then-wife, who had recommended the doctor.
.. Hurt describes Trump pinning back Ivana’s arms and ripping out her hair by the handful “as if he is trying to make her feel the same kind of pain that he is feeling.” Then, she told friends, Trump raped her.
.. Willoughby described confiding in a Mormon official about her husband’s fits of rage. She was told to think about how Porter’s career might suffer if she spoke out. Powerful people in Washington seem to have been similarly worried, first and foremost, about protecting the ambitious and pedigreed young man.
.. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, and in The Daily Mail, the senator categorically dismissed the accusations and, whether he meant to or not, the women making them.
.. “Shame on any publication that would print this — and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name,” he said.
.. Later, after the black-eye photograph of Holderness was published, Hatch issued a statement saying that domestic violence is “abhorrent.” But after that, he gave an interview in which he said he hoped Porter would “keep a stiff upper lip” and not resign. “If I could find more people like him, I would hire them,” said Hatch
.. It’s not really a surprise that Hatch, who once said that Trump’s presidency could become the greatest ever, would treat serious allegations of abusing women as a personal foible unrelated to one’s professional capabilities. You basically have to see things that way to support Trump in the first place.