All presidents expect loyalty from those who work for them, but the way President Trump does it is just … different, according to a story in Politico.
“All leaders want loyalty,” wrote reporter Michael Kruse in a story headlined, “‘I Need Loyalty:’ To hear him talk, it’s Trump’s favorite quality in other humans. But it’s unclear what that word means to him.”
“All politicians. All presidents. But in the 241-year history of the United States of America, there’s never been a commander in chief who has thought about loyalty and attempted to use it and enforce it quite like Trump.”
Kruse wrote that many of the events of Trump’s first year could be explained by his “fixation” on loyalty, “the pledging of it, the proof of it, the failure to receive it or provide it.”
There was James Comey’s “extraordinary dismissal,” which Kruse attributes to his failure to be sufficiently loyal but that Trump said was a result of the FBI director having compromised the Hillary Clinton investigation.
There were what Kruse called “’the Dear Leader’ cabinet meetings convened for aides to bestow slavish praise; public humiliations of his attorney general and secretary of state; the banishment and subsequent contrition of top adviser Steve Bannon; speculation that Robert Mueller won’t last long as special counsel and the parade of lockstep minions whose forced exits from the campaign or the administration have not squelched their public displays of devotion.”
The claim Trump speculated Mueller would not last long as special counsel links to a story in Wired that says no such thing. The story is about reports earlier this winter that six months prior Trump had allegedly discussed firing Mueller – an account not supported publicly by any of the people involved.
The Politico story then refers to Trump as “congenitally untrusting” and “shaped and schooled by some of the most committed, effective and objectionable practitioners of quid pro quo …” and later as “transactional to the point of ephemeral.”
It then makes the case that, congenitally, Trump should have been extremely trusting. His father had the same secretary for 59 years and had lunch with her every day. Trump himself has had four employees – his executive assistant, who died in 2013, his secretary, chief financial officer and chief operating officer – since 1986.
“I have stayed with the Trump organization because Mr. Trump appreciates hard work and loyalty – and I would never want to disappoint him,” Matt Calamari, the COO, said in 2016.
Trump is loyal “to a very wide range of people, and I suspect he learned it from his father,” Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and a Trump ally, said.
So it’s not so much transactional loyalty as there are too many people who have remained loyal to Trump for decades. It’s more like patronage, Kruse suggested.
He said Comey thought Trump’s having Comey to dinner early in his term was Trump’s “effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”
Trump learned this from his father and his former attorney, the late Roy Cohn, according to Kruse.
“What Fred Trump and Roy Cohn had in common was their deep immersion in patronage politics – old school, clubhouse-style favor-trading, used to grasp private gain under the guise of public good.
“Fred Trump for decades made shrewd connections and large, dutiful donations in exchange for preference in properties, pricing and zoning. And Cohn? Cohn was a virtuoso in ‘the trade of human calculus,’ his biographer wrote, ‘of deal-making, swapping, maneuver and manipulation.’”
So Fred Trump got Donald in the door with then-New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, who reportedly said, “Whatever Donald and Fred want, they have my complete backing,” and Cohn “got Trump his tax breaks for Trump Tower. He greased skids and filed suits.”