Administration

Trump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds

President Trump took aim once again this week at Rex Tillerson, panning his former secretary of State as "dumb as a rock" after the ex-Cabinet member said Trump was unprepared for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

 

Even while Tillerson was in the administration, he and Trump feuded, with the former energy executive reportedly describing Trump as a "moron."

 

When Trump fired Tillerson in 2018, their split was also acrimonious - though it wasn't unusual.

 

Here's a look at Trump's other bitter break-ups with former aides, associates and Cabinet members:

 

 

Rex Tillerson

Trump picked the former Exxon CEO to serve as secretary of State soon after being elected president, hailing Tillerson's "broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics" and describing him as a "world-class player."

"The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments," Trump said in a tweet.

But Tillerson endured a rocky tenure inside the administration, reportedly calling Trump a "moron" behind the scenes and prompting the president to challenge him to an IQ test.

Tillerson, who left his position in March 2018, strongly criticized Trump in December, saying he was undisciplined, unread and willing to break the law.

Trump shot back on Twitter that Tillerson didn't have the "mental capacity" needed for the secretary of state position.

"He was dumb as a rock and I couldn't get rid of him fast enough," Trump said. "He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!"

Jeff Sessions

Trump tapped Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general in November 2016, lauding the former Alabama GOP senator as a "world-class legal mind" and telling The Washington Post that Sessions was "a truly fine person."

But Trump changed his tone after Sessions recused himself from an investigation into Russian election interference. Trump repeatedly criticized the decision on Twitter, once calling the Justice Department under him a "total joke."

Sessions agreed to resign at Trump's request following the midterm elections. Trump thanked Sessions for his service at the time, but attacked him again months later, mocking the Alabama senator's southern accent.

"And the attorney general says 'I'm gonna recuse myself,'" Trump said, appearing to imitate Sessions's accent, at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

James Mattis

"Mad dog" Mattis, the retired Marine Corps general, was Trump's first defense secretary.

He called Mattis a "true general's general" before making the appointment, according to Reuters, and said Mattis was "doing a great job" during his 2018 State of the Union address.

But tensions escalated between the two over Trump's foreign policy, and Mattis resigned in December after Trump announced plans to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

His resignation was intended to go into effect in February, but Trump forced him out of the position early, saying that he was "essentially" fired.

"What's he done for me?" Trump asked following Mattis's exit. "How's he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not too happy with what he's done in Afghanistan, and I shouldn't be happy."

"I wish him well. I hope he does well," Trump added. "But as you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I."

Michael Cohen

President Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen - now a convicted felon - enjoyed the president's support during Trump's first year in the White House.

Trump tweeted in April 2018 that Cohen was a "fine person with a wonderful family" and that he didn't see him as someone that would cooperate with federal investigators.

But in August of that year, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of bank and tax fraud, as well violating campaign finance law when he made a nondisclosure payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with the president. He later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

Trump has since disparaged Cohen as a liar and "weak person."

For his part, Cohen called Trump a "conman" and a "racist" while testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February.

Steve Bannon

Trump announced in August 2016 that Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, would be joining his campaign. He said upon his hiring that Bannon was an "extremely capable, highly qualified" figure who loved to win.

He pegged Bannon to be the White House chief strategist following his election, and said in a news release that Bannon and Priebus would help "transform federal government."

But Bannon's relationship with Trump soured, and he was fired in August 2017 after contradicting the president on North Korea in an interview with the press, CNN reported.

Bannon's criticism of Trump in a book released in 2018 caused Trump to unleash on the former White House official.

"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency," Trump said. "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

Omarosa Manigault Newman

Trump hired Manigault Newman, a former "Apprentice" contestant, to serve as assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison during his transition.

He praised as her as a "wonderful woman" who helped his outreach with the African American community at a September 2016 campaign rally in Ohio, according to The Washington Post.

But after being dismissed from the White House, "Omarosa" published a tell-all memoir about her time in the administration that labeled Trump a racist and incompetent leader.

Trump responded by labeling Manigault Newman a "lowlife" who had begged for a job in his administration, He escalated his attacks a day later, calling her a "dog."

"Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will," he tweeted.

"While I know it's 'not presidential' to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!"

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