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Abramson writes: “Like most bullies, Donald Trump is really a coward. Although he spent a dozen seasons on 'The Apprentice' playing the boss who loved saying 'You’re fired,' he doesn’t have the guts to lower the boom as president."

Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions. (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions. (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Trump Is a Coward. At Least It Limits the Damage He Does

By Jill Abramson, Guardian UK

04 August 17

Despite all the bluster, insults and bullying, Donald Trump is too scared to fire Jeff Sessions, instead subjecting him to a dripfeed of humiliation

ike most bullies, Donald Trump is really a coward.

Although he spent a dozen seasons on “The Apprentice” playing the boss who loved saying “You’re fired,” he doesn’t have the guts to lower the boom as president.

When he did fire former FBI director James Comey, he hid behind the skirts of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. With his beleaguered press secretary Sean Spicer he waited until the poor man resigned after weeks of mean-spirited critiques behind Spicey’s back, of everything from his suits to his speaking style.

Then came his cowardly trashing of attorney general Jeff Sessions, at first through leaked rumors and then finally aired publicly, in his gabfest with the “failing” New York Times, the paper he pretends to hate but really loves and fears. On Tuesday, he once again pronounced himself “disappointed” with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and giving the president no advance warning before being appointed.

Cowards pick on the vulnerable. In his first interview with the Times, right after he was elected, Trump said he had no desire to investigate or prosecute Hillary Clinton, despite months of chanting “lock her up.” Playing the big man, he said the Clintons had already been through enough. It was time to put Hillary’s alleged crimes behind us. Now he cites Sessions’ failure to prosecute his vanquished opponent as one of the attorney general’s sins.

Cowards make empty threats. In three tweets on Monday night, he complained about #AmazonWashingtonPost and its “no-tax monopoly”, suggesting that he would try to force Amazon to pay sales tax on its enormous internet sales. First off, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s billionaire founder, bought the Post from his personal fortune, so it is not part of Amazon. Additionally, Amazon collects sales tax in every state where it is required and does not enjoy a “no-tax monopoly.” But during the campaign Trump repeated the canard, saying on Fox News that Bezos was worried about him because “he thinks I would go after him for antitrust, because he’s got a huge antitrust problem.”

Using the antitrust card against a media adversary is straight out of the Nixon playbook. In a fascinating cache of White House transcripts from 1971, President Nixon discussed using the threat of antitrust action to force the television networks to give more flattering coverage of his White House. “As far as screwing them is concerned,” Nixon said in a taped conversation with his aide, Charles Colson, “I’m very glad to do it.”

Nixon actually did file an antitrust suit against the networks, carrying out his threat. Trump’s groundless suggestions that he might go after the Post on either false sales tax claims or antitrust violations are surely empty threats. He has neither the guts nor the grounds.

The president is lucky that unlike the Republicans in Nixon’s day, his party and its congressional members are cowards, too. There is no Howard Baker, asking “What did the president know and when did he know it,” or a Barry Goldwater, who had the courage to tell Nixon that his support in the Congress had crumbed to dust because of his lawlessness.

The country is fortunate that some news organizations, including the Post and the New York Times, have only stiffened their spines as the Russia scandal has unfurled. In a tweet on Tuesday in which she responded to the question of why President Trump was letting Sessions twist in the wind instead of firing him, the Times’ Maggie Haberman, perhaps the most perceptive journalist on the Trump psyche, tweeted out a simple answer: “Because he can.”

Belittling the people who have been the most loyal to him is another sign of Trump’s weakness of character. So is his habit of denying his worst behavior when he is caught red-handed.

This was all evident in the 2016 election campaign. In a vile display, he imitated a Times reporter with a physical disability, then denied doing so. He insulted Carly Fiorina’s face, then denied trashing her appearance. This was his pattern.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative opinion writer for the Post, noted that this was “akin to a child ringing a neighbor’s doorbell and running away. He loves to taunt, insult, belittle and mock. What he cannot do is take ownership of his words and actions.” Classic cowardice.

Sessions is a rabid conservative whose backward positions on criminal justice and civil liberties made him a poor choice for attorney general. But having given up a secure Senate seat to serve the president and having been the first congressional GOP officeholder to endorse him, Sessions doesn’t deserve the slow drip of public humiliation.

Firing Sessions now would test whether Trump might ever try to get rid of the man he most fears, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia. That would be the real Nixon move. But it’s one that Trump the coward will talk about but never quite dare. your social media marketing partner
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