Donald Trump was “physically and emotionally abusive” toward former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and mocked her height during her time in the White House, a new book claims.
The book, from Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, claimed that Trump was dismissive toward the cabinet member and frequently made fun of her 5-foot-4-inch stature, claiming she was “not physically intimidating.” As Business Insider noted in a preview of the book, Nielsen was a frequent target of Trump’s ire, with the two clashing over how to approach border security and immigration.
Nielsen became a target for public criticism and even outrage after the Trump administration instituted a family separation policy that sent thousands of children to detainment camps. Trump ultimately asked for her resignation last year after Nielsen’s attempts to smooth over the tensions that had grown between the two fell short.
But even as Nielsen left on bad terms, she remained publicly supportive of Trump’s approach and in her resignation letter took a parting shot at Democrats and the judicial system for what she believed were constrictions on Trump’s border approach.
“I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside,” Nielsen wrote.
“I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”
Nielsen also did not reveal any of the verbal and emotional abuse she was said to have suffered at the hands of the president.
This is not the first time that Trump has been accused of mean-spirited mocking of one of his cabinet members. The president frequently took aim at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who despite being one of the earliest supporters of Trump’s candidacy, found himself a target for the president’s anger after recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Trump does an impression of Jeff Sessions: "I'm gonna recuse myself" pic.twitter.com/vJMKsovTsp
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) March 2, 2019
That included some public mockery from Trump, including a rally last year in which Trump used a mocking accent to deride Sessions for his recusal. Trump also characterized the decision as a personal affront to him.
“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said ‘thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,’ ” Trump said, via The Hill.
“It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”