No one who has to deal with President Donald Trump can long survive his wrath once he feels he’s been wronged. Rex Tillerson might still be secretary of state had press reports not revealed in October 2017 that he had privately called Trump a “moron.” Five months later, Tillerson was gone (having not jumped at Trump’s proposal that they square off in an IQ test). Jeff Sessions made the fatal error of recusing himself from the Russia investigation. After more than a year of emasculating the attorney general on Twitter, Trump booted Sessions right after the midterm elections.
Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, isn’t sticking around long enough to endure the humiliations Trump is only too happy to inflict. Coming off the leak of private cables he’d sent back to London describing Trump as someone who “radiates insecurity” and will never “look competent,” Darroch announced his resignation this morning. Darroch’s critique was precisely the variety Trump can’t stomach. It was personal and damning, desecrating the image Trump has painstakingly tried to construct.
For a day or so, Darroch looked like he might be able to weather the transatlantic crisis. Embassy officials were relieved to see supportive comments from British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who’s also a candidate to succeed Theresa May as prime minister. A Trump-administration official told me at the time of the leak that no efforts were under way to strip Darroch of his diplomatic credentials or insist that he return to London. Talks between British embassy officials and the White House continued even as Trump tweeted hostilities at Darroch. The president called him “the wacky ambassador” and “a very stupid guy.” Darroch was not “well liked,” Trump said, and “we will no longer deal with him.” All that was predictable; Trump won’t ignore a slight so long as it’s getting traction on cable news. “I think [Trump] believes if you turn the other cheek too far, you get it in the neck,” Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, told me recently. “His instincts are always going to be to fight back.”