But the short gestation period — less than five months — between Bolton’s September exit from the administration to his damning book manuscript underscores an uncomfortable truth for Trump: For a president who demands absolute loyalty, he inspires strikingly little of the same, with former aides, advisers and associates turning on him with thrumming regularity.
They are, en masse, all the president’s disloyal men and women — an unofficial club that includes Rex Tillerson, Trump’s former secretary of state, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House senior adviser, and Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney and fixer now serving three years in federal prison for crimes committed while working for Trump.
The culture, of course, is set from the top, with an Oval Office occupant who requires abject fealty but rarely returns it. Trump is known for his petty cruelty, for berating aides publicly and privately and for presiding over an intentionally gladiatorial West Wing, where advisers seem to expect to be betrayed at some point — and behave accordingly.
“There is irony in the fact he constantly talks about loyalty, but doesn’t understand how it works,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist. “In order to work, loyalty is a two-way street. The president defines it as something he gets, not something he gives — and therefore he doesn’t get it.”