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All the ways Trump’s closest confidants insult his intelligence

Reuters/Carlos Barria
“He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.”
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

John Kelly may not have joined the elite club of former White House chiefs of staff yet, but this week he joined another exclusive group: Donald Trump’s close confidantes who reportedly insult him behind his back.

Trump’s known for his insults—on Twitter alone, the president had insulted 446 people, places, and things as of April 30—but he gets his share, too. Not just from political adversaries, but from employees, friends, and allies, if news reports detailing discontent in Trump’s inner circle are to be believed. Quartz took a look at the most prominent examples:

  • “A supreme sexist.”—Barbara Res, former executive vice-president of Trump Organization, who also said “he thinks he’s God.”
  • “Like an 11-year-old child”— Steve Bannon. The now estranged advisor also allegedly complained that he was “sick of being a wet nurse to a 71-year-old man.”
  • Working with Trump is “like trying to figure out what a child wants”—White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh
  • “The White House has become an adult day care center”—Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee
  • “Morally unfit to be president,” “unethical” and “untethered to truth”—former FBI director James Comey, who also compared the US president to a mafia boss.
  • “Less a person than a collection of terrible traits”—Trump’s former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
  • Someone who “sucks up and shits down”—former Fox News chief and confidant Roger Ailes.

But Trump’s intelligence has been far and away the most popular target for his sometime allies.

Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
a fucking moron
Pentagon meeting
Gary Cohn
Economic advisor
dumb as shit
Email circulating within the White House
H R McMaster
National security advisor
a dope
Private dinner
Tom Barrack
Friend and supporter
not only crazy, […] stupid
Conversation with friend
Gary Cohn
Economic advisor
less a person than a collection of terrible traits
Email circulating within the White House
Gary Cohn
Economic advisor
an idiot surrounded by clowns
Email circulating within the White House
H R McMaster
National security advisor
“An idiot [with the intelligence of] a kindergartener”
Private dinner
John Kelly
Chief of staff
an idiot
Conversation with Trump
Sam Nunberg
Adviser
he’s an idiot
Live TV
Sam Nunberg
Adviser
this idiot
Campaign conversation
Steve Mnuchin
Secretary of Treasury
an idiot
Unspecified
Reince Preibus
Chief of staff
an idiot
Unspecified

On the upside for Trump, his antagonist of the hour James Comey has said that the president strikes him as “a person of above average intelligence.”

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