Speed Reads

You're fired?

Despite his famous catchphrase, Trump rarely fires anyone

With all the turnover in President Trump's six-month-old White House, you might get the impression that Trump is deploying his famous TV catchphrase, "You're fired," on a fairly regular basis. But other than FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Trump has "taken a passive-aggressive approach, preferring to demean, diminish, and demoralize subordinates" until they resign," The Washington Post concludes, pointing to outgoing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a prime example and, to some extent, senior press aide Michael Short, who resigned Tuesday after White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci confirmed to Politico that he was on tap to be fired.

And in the cases of Comey, Yates, and Bharara, Trump did not personally fire any of them, sending deputies to do the job. (Comey found out from the TV set during a speech in Los Angeles, Yates from an apologetic Trump political appointee sent by White House counsel Don McGahn, and Bharara from acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.) White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, considered a goner in the press months ago, weathered Trump's leaked displeasure by lowering his public profile. Now, Trump is heaping public abuse on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, apparently to get him to quit, and Sessions has few good options available.

Trump "can't seem to fire them, but he doesn't hesitate to abuse them publicly," presidential historian Robert Dallek tells the Post. "Presidents have people in their Cabinet they're less than enamored with, but they don't go out in public and demean them, denounce them," he added. "They do things with a certain decorum, and this man lacks presidential decorum. He is so vulgar in the way he proceeds and is so lacking in good taste."

Trump has played up his "You're fired" catchphrase, but according to Celebrity Apprentice alumnus Clay Aiken, it was NBC executives and producers, not Trump, who made the calls on which Apprentice contestants to fire. "He didn't make those decisions," Aiken told the Raleigh News & Observer. "He didn't fire those people."