Trump's mafioso talk is grounded in his actual worldview, Trump associates explain

Trump picked a fight with John Brennan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If President Trump calling people who testify against him "rats," heaping praise on those who don't "break," suggesting "flipping" be "outlawed," and demanding personal "loyalty" from law enforcement leaders sounds like mafia talk — and several people have noticed the similarities — well, it isn't just critics saying that.

Trump's comments reflect his fundamental belief "in an ethic of loyalty rather than a traditional conception of justice or the rule of law," one Trump White House alumnus tells Axios. Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan explain the talk about "flipping" as part of Trump's "long habit of declaring what he thinks laws and the legal system should be, and ignoring what they are," and they cite some examples. On CNN, Thursday night, Anderson Cooper had some examples, too.

Somewhere along the way, a source close to Trump tells Axios, Trump apparently conflated his personal ethos, which regulated his business decisions, and the office of the presidency, which is supposed to be different. "The expectation of unwavering loyalty is a core operating principle for Trump," the Trump ally said. "Specifically with regard to the Justice Department, he believes two things: 1. These people work for me. Why should I not expect personal loyalty from the people who work for me? And 2. This is how the world works, so everyone should quit pretending otherwise." As Cooper said, "Somewhere, former mob boss John Gotti, rotting in his grave, must be smiling."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.