The Trump White House isn't the most pleasant atmosphere to work in, with the president frequently throwing snipes and backhanded compliments at his aides. As reports have shown, though, these things go both ways, and many
Trump aides and allies have also insulted or spoken badly about him behind his back.
This includes people in his orbit at the White House or in his cabinet, various senators, and the
mysterious people who kept leaking huge stories, at least until General John Kelly shut the leaking down after stepping up as Trump's second White House chief of staff. We're only nine months into Trump's presidency, but he's racked up an impressive number of insults from members of his party and erstwhile allies — a phenomenon that simply didn't exist during Obama's time in office, although Obama did throw several jibes at Trump, too.
Now, some of the aides who were reported to have insulted the president in one way or another have denied those reports and kept their jobs. On the other hand, some of the people who were most loyal to Trump —
former White House communications director Sean Spicer and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus come to mind — stayed unflinchingly loyal to the president, even as he lobbed insults at them. Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's relationship with Trump reportedly hit a few bumps in the road over the summer, especially after one fraught Pentagon meeting and
Trump's bizarre speech to the Boy Scouts. After that speech, Tillerson reportedly called Trump a "moron," with some outlets reporting that the former Exxon-Mobil head used a slightly more colorful turn of phrase.
In a press conference following the report,
Tillerson did not explicitly deny calling Trump a "moron," although he did deny the claim that he had threatened to resign at the same time. He also stressed that the president was "smart." Trump, for his part, was reportedly furious that Tillerson didn't deny calling him names. Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images Keith Lane/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Of all of the senators who have spoken out against Trump, both Republican and Democrat, Tennessee Sen.
Bob Corker might have had the most scathing insults for the president. To be clear, Corker has been publicly vocal about his disdain for the president. After Trump insulted him on Twitter in October, Corker tweeted back, saying "Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff."
He later said that he regretting supporting Trump, and that he believed that "the debasement of our nation will be what [Trump will] be remembered most for." While Trump raged about this on Twitter, Corker topped it off by saying that "he's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president." These cutting comments directed at the president, however, came only after
Corker announced his retirement from the Senate in 2018. Corker had previously established himself as one of the president's Republican critics in Congress, but never in such an abjectly insulting manner. Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Jeff Flake took the same approach as Corker when he lobbed insults at the president in his retirement announcement. While he didn't mention Trump's name in his speech, there was never any question of who he was talking about. Among other things, Flake referred to "the indecency of our discourse," "the coarseness of our leadership," and to "reckless provocations" made "for the pettiest and most personal reasons."
Like Corker, Flake also began speaking out publicly against the president before announcing his retirement. He wrote an
op-ed in saying that his own party had "all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump." While such public statements are certainly not insults behind Trump's back, it's always notable when a member of the president's own party takes such a strong stance against him. Politico Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images Trump famously insulted McCain during the campaign, saying that McCain wasn't a war hero because Trump "[like] people that weren’t captured" — which McCain was, before remaining imprisoned in Vietnam for over five years. Over a year later, McCain shot back at Trump's war record, or rather the lack thereof, indirectly criticizing him for perceived draft dodging. McCain later claimed that the comments weren't meant as an insult to Trump, and that he simply disapproved of a system in which wealthier Americans were able to avoid the draft while less fortunate men weren't. Eric Thayer/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Trump Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch didn't hold back on some pointed criticism of the president even before he had been confirmed for a spot on the nation's highest court. After
Trump had attacked the federal judiciary when his immigration bans weren't getting through, Gorsuch called Trump's actions "disheartening" and "demoralizing" in a conversation with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Trump denied that Gorsuch had make those remarks, but a spokesperson for Gorsuch said that they were accurate. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images Paul Morigi/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Only months into Trump's administration,
Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski claimed that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that she needed a shower after defending Trump on television. “She would get off the air, the camera would be turned off, the microphone would be taken off, and she would say ‘Blech, I need to take a shower,’ because she disliked her candidate so much,” Brzezinski said, referring to Conway. Conway had started out the campaign working for Ted Cruz and then switched over to Trump only later. Scarborough claimed that Conway said she was only working for Trump as a source of income. Conway strongly denied Brzezinski and Scarborough's claims, saying that "It is a privilege to assist President Trump in the White House, just as it was during the campaign. I know him, I respect him, I believe in him, and I am confident in his capacity to be a transformative and successful President." Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
White House saw leak after leak beginning very early on, and they told us everything from Trump's embarrassing calls with the Mexican and Australian heads of state to his anger at Jeff Sessions after Sessions recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation. While these aren't direct insults, they certainly didn't make Trump happy — and now Gen. Kelly apparently has them slightly more under control, because they haven't been coming out at the rate they were earlier in the year.
Only one year into Trump's presidency and the tension in the White House is clear. These insults have been surprising enough; who knows what the rest of his time in office will bring?