Resign, fire or stay? Rosenstein is the latest contestant in Trump’s favorite game. | News Sponsored by

Sep 26, 18
Resign, fire or stay? Rosenstein is the latest contestant in Trump’s favorite game. | News Sponsored by

When Rod J. Rosenstein reports to the Oval Office on Thursday to be fired, resign or continue tenuously in his post, the deputy attorney general will also be cementing his status as a player in one of President Trump’s favorite parlor games: White House Survivor. Though the outcomes often differ — fired by tweet (former secretary of state Rex Tillerson), permitted to faux-amicably resign (former national security adviser H.R. McMaster) or flayed but never quite offed (Attorney General Jeff Sessions) — one near-certainty for those navigating their departures from Trump’s orbit is a prolonged and capricious public humiliation. Trump’s penchant for allowing his underlings to dangle and stew in Washington’s fickle swamp often seems to be a form of psychological cruelty — and also the way he prefers to conduct business, according to the president’s advisers and associates. The onetime reality-television showman who made his name on declaring “You’re fired!” has an aversion to in-person conflict, friends and advisers said. Trump believes that by dragging out what ultimately will be a dismissal, he can best gauge the prevailing views in his circle, as well as public sentiment, they said. “I think it pleases him to sort of paw at a wounded mouse in front of him because it asserts his sense of control and authority, and he enjoys that to no end,” said Tim O’Brien, author of “TrumpNation,” a biography. “That’s classic bullying, where you’re sort of tough on the exterior and you enjoy making people miserable, but when push comes to shove, you can’t really do what it takes to be brave face-to-face.” Rosenstein’s saga has followed a familiar pattern. As the Justice Department official overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, Rosenstein has been a frequent target of Trump’s ire, although officials said relations between the two men have been relatively smooth recently. In this July 9, 2004, photo, Donald Trump, seeking contestants for “The Apprentice” television show, is interviewed at Universal Studios Hollywood. (Ric Francis/AP) But whatever detente existed between Trump and Rosenstein risked immediate rupture last Friday, when the New York Times reported that Rosenstein had suggested surreptitious

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