The latest example came on Wednesday morning. Former national security adviser John Bolton, who served Trump from April 2018 until September of last year, has written a book that apparently alleges that Trump specifically tied aid to Ukraine to investigations Trump sought on a political opponent, a quid pro quo that’s at the center of the impeachment trial Trump now faces.
This could not stand.
Trump was pleased with Bolton at the point of his hiring …
I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
… and continued to praise the job he was doing, as when he said in June 2018 that “Mike Pompeo has been fantastic. John Bolton, working together with Mike, has been fantastic,” or a year later, when Trump declared that “John Bolton is doing a very good job.”
Less than five months later, Bolton left the White House — one day before the aid to Ukraine was released.
I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2019
Shortly afterward, Trump began accusing Bolton of impeding his administration.
Now that Bolton has indirectly aligned against Trump in the impeachment fight? The gloves are off.
....many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2020
From a 10,000-foot view, what’s remarkable about this shift is how familiar it now seems. We’ve seen the same pattern, over and over, with Trump attacking those he once praised — at times even attacking them before they leave the administration.
Some examples, listed in alphabetical order.
Stephen K. Bannon
Served as chief strategist from January 2017 to August 2017.
When Bannon left the administration:
I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton - it was great! Thanks S— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
When Bannon was then cited as a source for a book critical of Trump:
Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad! https://t.co/mEeUhk5ZV9— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
Served as National Economic Council director from January 2017 to April 2018.
Shortly after Cohn took the job, Trump praised him during a meeting.
“My staff has been amazing. Gary, as you know — you all know Gary from Goldman, Gary Cohn,” Trump said in February 2017. “And we’re really happy — just paid $200 million in tax in order to take this job, by the way.”
Then Cohn, too, was a source in a book critical of Trump.
“You know, Gary Cohn — and I could tell stories about him like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends” in October 2018.
Omarosa Manigault Newman
Served as director of communications for a White House office from January 2017 to January 2018.
During the 2016 campaign, Manigault Newman was an advocate for Trump’s candidacy.
“Omarosa, who’s actually a very nice person, but I don’t want to say that because I’ll destroy her image by saying that,” Trump said of her in September 2016. “But she’s actually a very, very fine person and a pastor.”
When Manigault Newman left the administration, Trump offered her kind words.
Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
After she — you guessed it — wrote a book critical of the president, Trump’s tune changed.
Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
Served as defense secretary from January 2017 to January 2019.
Trump was effusive about Mattis (whom he enjoyed calling “Mad Dog”) before nominating him to serve in the Department of Defense.
General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General's General!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
When it was first revealed that Mattis would leave the administration, Trump was complimentary.
General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Then Mattis’s resignation letter emerged publicly, in which he offered subtle criticisms of the president. Trump ousted Mattis early and undermined him publicly, even before he left his position.
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
That included unusual criticisms of Mattis’s judgment.
....We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Served as communications director for less than two weeks in July 2017.
Scaramucci’s brief tenure at the White House was a whirlwind. Trump at first defended Scaramucci by claiming that his new staffer had favored his 2016 candidacy.
In all fairness to Anthony Scaramucci, he wanted to endorse me 1st, before the Republican Primaries started, but didn't think I was running!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
After leaving the White House, Scaramucci became a vocal critic of Trump’s, often in personal terms.
.....other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2019
He kept noticing for a while.
....got fired. Wrote a very nice book about me just recently. Now the book is a lie? Said his wife was driving him crazy, “something big” was happening with her. Getting divorced. He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2019
Served as attorney general from February 2017 to November 2018.
Sessions is perhaps the most famous example of how Trump turns on allies. He was an early endorser of Trump’s as a sitting senator. Trump rewarded him with one of the highest positions in his Cabinet.
When Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation on the advice of Justice Department attorneys, Trump at first defended him.
Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
Over time, though, Sessions’s failure to engage in defending the president and launching investigations Trump sought earned him negative attention from his boss.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Shortly after the 2018 elections, Sessions was booted, with a now-familiar note of thanks.
....We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
That changed, as the Russia investigation continued to linger over Trump.
....a persecution of the President.” Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal. Thank you, people are starting to see and understand what this Witch Hunt is all about. Jeff Sessions should be ashamed of himself for allowing this total HOAX to get started in the first place!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2018
Sessions would even get pulled into other fights.
Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2019
Yet Sessions, now seeking reelection to the Senate, has consistently defended his former boss (who remains popular in Alabama).
Served as secretary of state from February 2017 to March 2018.
Trump approached the process of staffing his Cabinet as though he was casting the most important reality show of all time. Tillerson, then the chief executive of ExxonMobil, was the sort of pick who came straight out of central casting, as Trump liked to say about his team. Getting Tillerson to join was a coup that Trump bragged about regularly.
I have chosen one of the truly great business leaders of the world, Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to be Secretary of State.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
He expected big things.
Congratulations to Rex Tillerson on being sworn in as our new Secretary of State. He will be a star!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
But Tillerson wasn’t the type to sit quietly and simply acquiesce to Trump’s demands. He, like Sessions, was a target of Trump even while he still held his position.
I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
By the time he left the administration, his relationship with Trump was tense. His replacement, Mike Pompeo, has proved to be much more savvy about staying in his boss’s good graces — earning Tillerson some criticism as an aside.
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
As with so many others, public criticism of Trump has yielded a public response.
Rex Tillerson, a man who is “dumb as a rock” and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2019
Bolton’s book about Trump is due out in March. Look for tweets along the lines of the one above when it’s released.