After withdrawing his tariff threat against Mexico, Mr. Trump expressed displeasure at some of the “reviews” — his word — of the drama. “While the reviews and reporting on our Border Immigration Agreement with Mexico have been very good, there has nevertheless been much false reporting (surprise!) by the Fake and Corrupt News Media, such as Comcast/NBC, CNN, @nytimes & @washingtonpost,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Mr. Trump’s penchant for threats has been characteristic of his administration from the beginning. In the first days of his presidency, he threatened to impose a high import tax on all goods coming into the country, only to retreat amid a storm of protests by business and its allies.
He makes lots of threats he never follows through on. He regularly threatens to sue adversaries and rewrite libel laws to punish news media organizations. He threatened to take away a license from NBC, to eliminate a tax break for the National Football League and to withdraw American troops from South Korea over a trade dispute.
He threatened repeatedly to lock up Hillary Clinton (while bristling when Nancy Pelosi threatened to do the same to him). He threatened to release tapes of his conversations with James B. Comey when he was F.B.I. director, only to later admit there were no such recordings. He threatened to punish General Motors for closing a plant.
Some threats are more apocalyptic. He threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea and “the official end of Iran” if either endangered the United States. His bellicose rhetoric about North Korea led to unprecedented talks with its leader, Kim Jong-un, although a nuclear agreement remains elusive. Iran brought two ships with missiles back to port and unloaded them. His threat to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement yielded negotiations with Mexico and Canada that produced a revised pact.
But threats, idle or otherwise, get him in trouble too. His repeated threats to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, amounted to obstruction of justice, according to his critics. His defense is that they were just threats and he did not actually follow through — or his staff refused to carry out his wishes.
And some targets no longer shrink in the face of threats as they once did. After Mr. Trump last week threatened an economic boycott against AT&T to influence the news coverage of its subsidiary, CNN, it was largely ignored. Not only did investors not flee, but AT&T’s stock is up 5.7 percent since he issued the threat.
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