That's a nice reputation you've got there, President Trump seemed to be saying to James Comey on Friday morning: It'd be a shame if something happened to it.
Facing a growing crisis over his White House's firing of the now-former FBI director, Trump seemed to issue a pair of not-so-veiled threats. He strongly suggested Comey shouldn't leak because there might be tapes of their conversations that would reflect poorly on him, and he said he might cancel White House news briefings after he and his top aides offered starkly contradictory explanations for Comey's firing — and got eviscerated for it.
The message in both cases was pretty obvious: Be careful running afoul of me.
This is part of a pattern for Trump. His tendency to issue veiled-but-also-not-so-veiled threats has been a mainstay of his campaign and now the early part of his presidency.
Just last week, he seemed to send a warning message to the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, whom he also fired and who was preparing to testify on Capitol Hill.
He has also suggested media coverage he doesn't like may lead him to try to change libel laws.
Perhaps the most infamous examples are from the 2016 campaign. In one of his least-veiled threats, Trump said he would “spill the beans” on Ted Cruz's wife if he wasn't “careful.” Spill the beans on what, it wasn't entirely clear. He never did.
And there's the time he seemed to suggested “Second Amendment people” might do something to stop Hillary Clinton from appointing anti-Second Amendment judges. Here's what he said:
“Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don't know. But I tell you what, that'll be a horrible day.”
He said this wasn't a threat, of course, and that he wasn't referring to an armed response. I was skeptical.
Before the 2016 conventions, Trump sure seemed to suggest his supporters would riot if the GOP establishment tried to deprive him of his rightful nomination:
“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short or if we’re 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically. I think it would be — I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people.”
He later clarified that this wasn't a threat, either. Of course, it wasn't hard to see it as him signaling that maybe, perhaps his supporters should raise hell if it came to that.
He has also suggested he might tax General Motors if it moves jobs overseas.
And he's offered a few threats to the conservative House Freedom Caucus to fall in line — before House Republicans addressed their concerns in the health-care bill.
Any one of these could be dismissed as a one-off. But today's threats are pretty crystal-clear, and the sum total paints a clear picture.