Does this officially make the White House a hostile work environment? According to a new report from The New York Times on Saturday, White House counsel Donald McGahn reportedly calls Trump “King Kong” behind his back. The nickname started because McGahn is, as the Times described it, is "so exasperated" by the president's unpredictable behavior.
McGahn and Trump's strained relationship seems to stem from a series of voluntary interviews McGahn has done with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team over the past nine months. The Times suggested that McGahn's cooperation happened because he thought "Trump would ultimately blame him" for any illegal activity.
The White House counsel is not a personal lawyer for the president. According to a White House site explaining the make-up of the president's cabinet and presidential departments, "The Office of White House Counsel advises the President, the Executive Office of the President, and the White House staff on legal issues pertaining to the President and the White House."
McGahn's lawyer William Burck told the Times that his client answered the special counsel's questions honestly. "President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn's testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the special counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must," Burck told the newspaper.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to the newspaper that "the president and Don have a great relationship."
One of Trump's former attorneys for the Mueller probe, John Dowd, told USA Today that McGahn was a "strong witness for the president."
"He spent a lot time, because there was a lot to go through," Dowd told the newspaper.
McGahn isn't the only person to give the president a nickname. Last month, lawyer Michael Avenatti — who is representing clinics like adult actress Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — held an informal Twitter poll to gauge his followers thoughts on a Trump nickname. The choices? "Don the Con," or "Con Man Trump."
"Don the Con" won out in a landslide in the July 6 poll, with nearly 74,000 votes. Later on July 6, Avenatti quote-tweeted, "Don the Con's Motto - 'Tell people one thing and do another,'" in response to a Washington Post reporter's tweet about foreign workers at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club. But it does look like Avenatti is now using the nickname sparingly.
As far as Trump-approved nicknames, the tabloid press referred to Trump as "The Donald" for years. That nickname's origin comes from his relationship with his first wife, Ivana Trump.
"As most people know, English isn’t my first language, in fact it's my fourth," Ivana told The Washington Post via text message in September 2015. "When I came to live in New York, I really had to learn the language from the beginning almost. Some things come easily, some things don't."
Ivana said as she tried to speak faster and faster, she started using "The" before people's names, including Trump's. "Probably because I was going at my usual turbo speed, I started putting 'The' in front of most people's names. Yes, you know the outcome — 'The Donald' just slipped off the tongue, and now it seems to be making its ways to the political history books," she told the newspaper.