President Donald Trump on Sunday labeled one of his vice president’s top national security aides a “Never Trumper,” a day after it was disclosed that she had said the president’s July call with Ukraine was “unusual and inappropriate” in a deposition to Congress.
Trump tweeted that the aide, Jennifer Williams — “whoever that is,” he said — should read the transcripts of both his calls with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine: the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, as well as an initial April 21 call that the White House released a summary of Friday.

Trump’s remarks are stunning on three levels.

First, he has essentially declared war on one of Vice President Pence’s top aides, giving Pence one more opportunity to debase himself for the sake of his boss. (If Pence chooses instead to defend Williams, does anyone doubt that the Nikki Haley vice president speculation will heat up?)

Second, Williams does not need to read the rough transcript of the July 25 call; she listened in on the call. Does Trump not understand that, or does he think his low-information voters don’t? It is the quintessential example of insisting something is “perfect” and “everyone says so” when anyone not deluded by the cult leader can see Trump’s remarks were wholly inappropriate and very likely illegal and impeachable. Williams, Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and National Security Council member Tim Morrison all knew the call was bad news as soon as they heard it. When others read the transcript, including Ukraine envoy William B. Taylor Jr., they too knew it was anything but perfect.

The Post reports: “Morrison twice reached out to the National Security Council’s attorneys with apparent concerns about Trump’s conversations pertaining to Ukraine policy, according to various witnesses’ testimony. ... Morrison reported the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky — as another White House official, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, had done. In September, Morrison also alerted NSC lawyers about a separate conversation between Trump and [U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon] Sondland, according to Taylor’s testimony to Congress.”

Third, Trump has now taken to calling multiple political appointees in his own administration “NeverTrumpers.” While many of us would be delighted to have them in our company, Trump’s targets are literally serving in his administration — hardly the career path for a NeverTrumper. Trump will stick by fellow Republicans as long as they win, slavishly support him and ably defend him on television. And speaking of TV and other media, no outlet or poll that suggests he is less than a political colossus can avoid his wrath. He even attacked “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace after an interview with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

It is quite right to say that Trump is only loyal to Trump. There are those whose bad behavior, broken promises and disloyalty to him never seem to trigger Trump’s rage. He seems oddly and consistently docile and obsequious in the face of world dictators such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and most of all, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. They can break promises (as Kim did in resuming missile testing and Erdogan did in violating the phony truce), take advantage of his insatiable need for flattery and induce him to take ludicrous positions that provoke domestic outrage (e.g. exonerating the Saudi crown prince of responsibility for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, siding with Putin over the word of U.S. intelligence agencies on 2016 election interference). Meanwhile, Trump will betray his country, as he did when inviting Russian interference in 2016 and extorting Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 race.

Trump will turn against every aide, ally and member of Congress who proves to be unhelpful to him personally. For Trump, loyalty is a one-way street. People are means to an end, and their concerns and feelings are irrelevant to Trump. Since he cannot imagine anyone following conscience, principle or laws, there is no excuse for defying him. (Remember former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who had the temerity to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation?)

As Trump’s golden touch turns to a kiss of death (as happened in two recent gubernatorial elections in red states), Republicans might recognize that not only is their loyalty to him not reciprocated, but also their association with him drives opposition sky-high and endangers their political survival. (My Post colleague Philip Bump writes regarding the Louisiana gubernatorial race: “On Saturday, there were surges in turnout — but most heavily in strongly Democratic parishes. Turnout increased in parishes that voted for the winner, Democrat John Bel Edwards, by 97,000 votes since the October primary. In parishes that voted for [Republican Eddie] Rispone, turnout was up only 68,000 votes.”)

Republicans should consider treating Trump the way he treats them and everyone else. If Trump is not helpful and not entirely devoted to their well-being, then drop him, denigrate him and even deny they knew him all that well.

Read more: