STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Neil Gorsuch just joined a long list of people not loyal enough to Donald Trump

President Donald Trump tends to operate without a set strategy. He is driven, most often, by personal pique. Those te...

Posted: Dec 20, 2017 6:31 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2017 6:31 AM

President Donald Trump tends to operate without a set strategy. He is driven, most often, by personal pique. Those tendencies are managed, at times, by his staff, but are never totally eliminated. His personality -- volcanic, unpredictable, bullying -- was the single most important factor in Trump getting elected to the White House. It's also been the biggest impediment to him succeeding as he would have liked in his 1st year in the office.

Take Tuesday's report in the Washington Post about Trump's frustration with his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Here's the key bit:

"Earlier this year, Trump talked about rescinding Gorsuch's nomination, venting angrily to advisers after his Supreme Court pick was critical of the president's escalating attacks on the federal judiciary in private meetings with legislators....

....The president worried that Gorsuch would not be 'loyal,' one of the people said, and told aides that he was tempted to pull Gorsuch's nomination - and that he knew plenty of other judges who would want the job."

At issue, according to the Post report, was that Gorsuch had called Trump's criticism of the federal judiciary "disheartening" and "demoralizing" in a get-to-know-you interview with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat.

Trump, for his part -- in a tweet on Tuesday -- called the report, wait for it, "FAKE NEWS" and insisted he "never even wavered" when it came to his decision to select Gorsuch.

It's worth noting here that the Post story is based on 11(!) sources "familiar" with Trump's outburst regarding Gorsuch. So, while I think it's worth noting the President's denial, his past casual relationship with the truth and the deep sourcing on the Post story suggest -- at least to me -- that the reporting is accurate.

There's also the fact that this sort of behavior is entirely consistent with what we know about how Trump has operated as President. Off the top of my head, here are a list of people he has fumed at for alleged disloyalty or for causing him undue problems or bad press:

Jeff Sessions Rex Tillerson Reince Priebus Sean Spicer Mitch McConnell Jeff Flake Bob Corker John McCain Jared Kushner, Rod Rosenstein, James Comey Bob Mueller

(And that's far from a complete list.)

This is who this President is. He has a short fuse. He is not someone willing to take the blame for either his own errors or those of the people around him. When things go wrong, he lashes out. And, perhaps most importantly, he expects total and complete fealty from not only the people who work for him but anyone with an "R" after their name. When he doesn't get the loyalty he expects, he gets very angry.

Which brings us back to Gorsuch and what he was doing in that chat with Blumenthal. It seems fairly clear that some smart aide told Gorsuch that if he got a chance in his round-robin interview with Senators to show his willingness to break with Trump, he should take it. So, he did.

All judicial nominees -- especially for the nation's highest court -- face doubts that they are willing and able to be independent from the President who nominated them to this lifetime post. Getting confirmed by the Senate -- as Gorsuch did with 54 votes -- almost necessitates this sort of judicial Sister Souljah moment.

Gorsuch's comments to Blumenthal were a strategy -- and a good one. (That's not to say Gorsuch doesn't believe what he said about Trump's comments on the judiciary. Just that his willingness to acknowledge those feelings in an interview with a Democratic Senator was not an accident.)

That Trump either didn't see what Gorsuch was doing or didn't understand the strategy is indicative of how short-term his thinking tends to be when it comes to politics and how people treat him.

Here's a quick look at how Trump thought about Gorsuch: I nominated. --- He owes me big time! --- He said what about me? -- I've got 100 guys would be thrilled to take his place! --- Who knows if this guy is even the right guy?

Trump, this time, kept his unhappiness with Gorsuch private and was apparently mollified by the fact that a letter from Gorsuch praising Trump was found and shown to the President. (No, that is not a joke.)

The broader point here: Trump is -- now and always -- motivated by personal rivalries and perceived slights. That is what sits at the heart of many of the moves he makes -- and those he doesn't make.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2506247

Reported Deaths: 55965
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings33129910834
Queens31382710273
Suffolk2383183590
Nassau2136033286
Bronx2067916745
New York1674924632
Westchester1433882338
Erie1054771938
Richmond882931930
Monroe835191180
Orange57192909
Rockland52859779
Onondaga51456755
Dutchess35411497
Albany30510386
Oneida28347582
Broome24121403
Niagara23795397
Saratoga20034197
Ulster17179277
Schenectady16525227
Rensselaer14618167
Putnam1242096
Chautauqua12281172
Oswego11449112
Chemung10740153
St. Lawrence10354124
Steuben9972173
Ontario9244110
Jefferson867574
Cayuga8582107
Sullivan839483
Wayne801884
Cattaraugus7586112
Genesee6904132
Herkimer6671125
Clinton663138
Tompkins646359
Fulton6228102
Madison6092102
Montgomery5865138
Livingston564971
Warren537181
Cortland528479
Tioga501271
Columbia4966111
Chenango463586
Allegany454296
Washington453367
Otsego452654
Greene434286
Wyoming433657
Orleans428087
Franklin417920
Lewis355038
Delaware350747
Seneca271663
Schoharie227221
Essex224531
Yates158827
Schuyler151317
Hamilton4343
Unassigned14424
Out of NY0310
Utica
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 47°
Oneonta
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 38°
Herkimer
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 47°
Old Forge
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
NEW Game Day Deals each week
Chapter Aesthetic October Giveaway
Cool To Be Kind 2021
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve