Analysis

Dumbo, Horseface, and Pencil-Neck: A Brief History of Trump Insults

In the president's view, several of his aides and foes have not been from "central casting."

Outgoing Secret Service director Randolph "Tex" Alles at a dedication ceremony at the Homeland Security headquarters Center Building at the old St. Elizabeths Hospital, Wednesday in Washington
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
April 14, 2019, 8 p.m.

Reports last week that Randolph Alles was pushed out of his post as director of the Secret Service in part because President Trump thought his ears were too big and he didn’t look right for the job are just the latest instances of the primacy the president gives personal appearances and his willingness to make fun of how people look. It is a Trumpian quirk that was highlighted as far back at the early debates in 2015. To the unhappiness of his Republican rivals then, but perhaps not surprisingly in an age of Twitter insults, he has paid no political price for this.

Before becoming president, he called some women “fat pigs,” disparaged the looks of Heidi Cruz, voiced horror at the face of candidate Carly Fiorina, labeled a beauty pageant winner “Miss Piggy” and dismissed the many women who accused him of misdeeds as not attractive enough to have drawn his attention.

Since becoming president, his focus on personal looks has been undiminished, though often kept out of public view. One constant has been his desire to name appointees who look like “central casting” matched them to their jobs. One was the distinguished-looking Rex Tillerson. Trump was so taken by his “central casting” looks that he never held a substantive discussion with him to see if their foreign policy views matched before naming him his first secretary of State. He was similarly motivated to name White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to head the Veterans Administration. “He’s like central casting, like a Hollywood star,” Trump told donors at one dinner, according to a recording obtained by CNN. Just last week, the president said Rep. Tom Emmer was perfect to head the National Republican Congressional Committee because he’s “central casting.” He added, “You couldn’t pick a better guy in Hollywood. There’s no actor that could do it better.”

Trump’s problems as president have often come with officials he didn’t think looked the part. Here are 10 officials that the president didn’t think came from central casting:

Randolph “Tex” Alles, director, Secret Service

Trump appointed Alles to head the Secret Service in 2017, impressed by his record as a Marine major general and the job he did at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But, according to multiple reports, he soon soured on him, in part because of the size of his ears. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that he started calling him “Dumbo”—after the Walt Disney character—behind his back.

Stormy Daniels, adult-film star and Trump accuser

Trump once was so attracted to Daniels that he had a sexual relationship with her, according to her. But when she went public with that relationship and took him to court, his attitude changed. When one judge ruled in his favor in October, Trump tweeted, “Great, now I can go after Horseface ...” Carly Fiorina was one of the first to call foul on that tweet, recalling how Trump criticized her face. “The habit of insulting one’s political enemies is unfortunately long standing in this country,” she said. “And he has brought it to a new low.”

Jeff Sessions, attorney general

The president frequently belittled Sessions publicly for his actions as attorney general. Privately, he was even more biting and personal according to several reports. The Washington Post reported that the criticisms often involved Sessions’ tendency to squint and his pronounced Southern accent. The Post contended Trump often called him “Mr. Magoo, a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic, and bumbling.” In another story, the Post wrote Trump complained that Sessions “talks like he has marbles in his mouth.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman, House Judiciary Committee

Nadler has lost a considerable amount of weight over the years. But Trump still refers to his fellow New Yorker as “Fat Jerry.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman, House Intelligence Committee

Trump doesn’t keep his insults of Schiff behind the scenes. Most recently, he used his political rally in Michigan last month to vent, calling Schiff a “little pencil-neck.” To cheers, he said, “He has the smallest, thinnest neck I have ever seen.”

Janet Yellen, chair, Federal Reserve Board, 2014 to 2018

Trump is deeply displeased with his choice of Jerome Powell to head the Fed and may well have been happy with the policies of Yellen, the chair he chose to replace with Powell. The Post quoted people close to Trump as saying he was impressed with Yellen and considering keeping her in the job. But, according to the Post, he “told aides on the National Economic Council that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank.”

Omarosa Manigault, assistant to the president, 2017 to 2018

When Omarosa left the White House and fired off her own “tell-all” book critical of him, Trump was displeased enough to call his former aide “a dog.”

Mika Brzezinski, co-host, Morning Joe on MSNBC

Fed up with what he viewed as unfair criticism on the morning show Brzezinski co-hosts, Trump took aim at her face. He insisted that when he saw her during a visit in Florida she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” This despite pictures from the encounter that showed nothing wrong with her face.

Bob Corker, chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 2015 to 2019

As hung up as Trump is by women’s faces, he is just as obsessed by men who don’t measure up to his 6 feet 3 inches. So when Corker criticized him, it was time to saddle the 5-foot-7-inch Tennessean with a nickname—“Liddle’ Bob Corker.”

Mike Bloomberg, billionaire and mayor of New York City, 2002 to 2013

Bloomberg is a full foot shorter than Trump, so the nickname Trump gave him was no surprise. But, unlike the way he tried to give a southern twist to “little” by making it “liddle’” for Corker, it was simply “Little Michael” for Bloomberg.

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