An oft-used strategy of Donald Trump’s in dealing with people and other countries, as President, is pretty simple: Threaten them.
Whether he follows through is something else entirely (tariffs, yes, import tax no), but from the large policy dispute to threats of war and everything in between, the President is not afraid to put people on notice.
His latest target: South Korea. Here’s the CNN headline today: Trump apparently threatens to withdraw US troops from South Korea over trade.
South Korea’s response: “No comment.”
We could go on about Trump’s threats. He’s threatened people like former FBI Director James Comey (with releasing tapes that didn’t exist). He’s threatened groups of business leaders (with an import tax), the media at large (with revoking broadcast licenses), to shut down the government (unless there’s a border wall), to starve Obamacare (unless there was a replacement), UN member countries (over putting the US Embassy in Jerusalem), European Union member countries (with tariffs), NATO member countries (with leaving NATO), Japan, China, the NFL (with ending its tax cuts), Canada and Mexico (with tariffs). The list goes on.
In fact, here’s a full accounting of CNN headlines during the Trump administration in which he threatened someone or something.
- Trump threatens to tax European cars
- Trump threatens to cut off aid to countries that allow drugs into the US
- US cuts funding for Palestinians after Trump Twitter threat
- Trump again threatens to cut off aid to Palestinians
- Trump threatens to sue Bannon over Wolff book
- Trump threatens aid to Palestinians, appears to contradict himself on Jerusalem
- Trump says Iran violating nuclear agreement, threatens to pull out of deal
- Trump continues NBC threats, says ‘licenses must be challenged’ (CNNMoney reported this threat is “essentially toothless”)
- Donald Trump just issued a direct threat to the media
- Trump threatens media for critical coverage
- Trump threatens North Korea (This is actually a live blog from when Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” unless that country stopped threatening the US)
- Trump calls Venezuela’s Maduro a ‘bad leader’; threatens tougher sanctions
- Trump threatens shutdown over border wall
- As Trump threatens NAFTA, Mexico looks to Latin America for trade
- Trump threatens anger if health care bill fails
- Trump threatens Comey in Twitter outburst
- Trump threatens to stop insurance payments so that Democrats will negotiate on Obamacare
- Trump threatens business leaders with border tax
- Trump threatens to roll back US-Cuba relations
- Trump threatens to reverse diplomatic relations with Cuba
Those are the “Trump threat” headlines during his time as President. As a special bonus, here’s a video: 11 times Trump threatened Clinton with prison.
There are plenty of other threats for which our writers might not have used the word “threat.”
CNBC, for instance, wrote “Trump threatens to end NFL’s ‘massive tax breaks.’ ” CNN’s headline avoided that word in that case.
It is hackneyed at this point to say that Trump is approaching the job unlike any president before him, but presidential threats, heretofore, have been more reserved and used more sparingly.
They would mean something dire since – the full weight of the US was behind them.
But for Trump, they’re de rigueur, and as likely to be forgotten as followed through on: Another piece of evidence that he is working on changing the presidency more than the presidency seems to be changing him.