Donald Trump's obsession with loyalty is made crystal clear in the way he treats those who dare to publicly disagree with him — with a cold shoulder and implications that their job is in jeopardy.
Donald Trump’s fixation on the “loyalty” of his inner circle has been well-known for decades. Now in the White House, that obsession manifests itself most clearly in how he responds to anyone who dares to criticize or disagree with him in public.
And it also appears to be driven by the opinion of Steve Bannon, who continues to hold sway over Trump from outside the administration.
Anyone deemed insufficiently supportive of Trump’s — and by extension, Bannon’s — agenda is targeted for silent treatment, blatant snubs, and implications that their job is on the line.
Gary Cohn, Trump’s National Economic Council director, has long been a punching bag for the anti-Semites at Bannon’s Breitbart News. The outlet consistently brackets Cohn’s name with globe emojis to label him as a “globalist,” the less blatantly repugnant way of expressing hatred for Jewish people.
And after Cohn made a public and vehement statement condemning Trump’s responses to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, the rage against Cohn from the far right, particularly Breitbart and Bannon, soared.
Bannon said Cohn “should resign for breaking with the president over Charlottesville,” calling his statement “unacceptable.”
The Breitbart article gleefully cited a Reuters report which indicated that Trump’s “anger” at Cohn and the “fraying relationship” between the two men has put Cohn’s position into question.
After Cohn’s statement on Charlottesville, the report notes, “One source close to the White House said Trump wanted to fire Cohn. ‘Hates him. But that could be ephemeral,’ the source said.”
Ephemeral perhaps, but for the moment quite apparent. The New York Times reports that despite chief of staff John Kelly’s attempts to “shield” Cohn from Trump’s anger, the feeling is still palpable.
“Several aides said Mr. Trump is freezing out Mr. Cohn by employing a familiar tactic: refusing to make eye contact with Mr. Cohn when his adviser greets him,” the report notes.
And at a meeting on infrastructure, which Cohn was leading, a childish and petty Trump, “whose most cutting insult is to pretend someone does not exist or that he barely knows them, virtually ignored him” — surely to the delight of Bannon.
But Politico reports that Cohn himself insists that he is not going anywhere just yet, at least not until the administration enacts their tax reform plans.
“Cohn is very much aware of efforts by adversaries to trash him with whisper campaigns to the media and is frustrated by them, according to people familiar with his thinking,” Politico notes. “But as long as he can continue to focus on pushing tax reform through Congress, he is inclined to stay on the job.”
One could argue that being willing to endure despicable bigotry lobbed against him all in the name of tax reform that would benefit the wealthy and harm everyone else makes Cohn a perfect fit for the Trump White House.
But apparently, loyalty to that goal is not enough to soothe the hurt feelings of Trump, or to assuage the inflamed anti-Semitism of Trump’s outside buddies.
Trump has shown a disturbing willingness to kowtow to Bannon’s desires. By offering Cohn the silent treatment, he is speaking a thousand words about where his own loyalties lie.