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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Long before pandemic, Donald Trump slimed people he'd been associated with

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March.

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March. Credit: AP/Vasha Hunt

Despite a worldwide crisis caused by the coronavirus, President Donald Trump fuels extraneous feuds. His most recent trashing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions stands out as an example.

The veteran Alabama Republican is seeking the GOP nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He was an early and close backer of Trump in 2016. As Trump's AG, Sessions enraged the president by following plain legal advice and recusing himself from the probe of campaign contacts with Russians. Now, Trump supports Sessions' opponent in the primary, which is in a runoff.

"He's not mentally qualified to be Attorney General," Trump said Sunday, although he had kept Sessions as attorney general for eight months. "He was the biggest problem. I mean, look Jeff Sessions put people in place that were a disaster." Sessions tweeted back: "Look, I know your anger, but recusal was required by law. I did my duty & you're damn fortunate I did."

The president also keeps spreading a discredited rumor linking MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough to the "murder" of a congressional aide in 2001.

Those who just tuned into this story might not guess that Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski fawned on Trump so blatantly in 2016 that the candidate told them at one point: "I watched your show this morning. You have me almost as a legendary figure, I like that.”

Trump's transactional relationships tend to blur business and governance with the personal. When he deems it in his interest to end and deny the association, he launches evidence-free personal attacks. This is his pattern — perfect for gossip and not much else.

Comic radio celebrity Howard Stern drew notice two weeks ago when he said of his longtime friend matter-of-factly on SiriusXM: “The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most love him the most. The people who are voting for Trump, for the most part … He wouldn’t even let them in a ... hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”

Donald Trump Jr. spewed abuse on behalf of his dad.

"It must kill Hollywood Howard to know that more people will see this tweet than listen to his show," Junior replied on Twitter. "That’s what happens when you turn your back on your working class fan base & bend your knee to the same MSM [mainstream media] you used to mock."

Stern shot back sarcastically: "What an accomplished young man … I would list all of Junior’s accomplishments right now but I only have a three-hour show."

At different times, Trump forged mutually beneficial links with the Clintons, FBI Director James Comey, porn actor Stormy Daniels and lawyer Michael Cohen. He ended up calling Hillary Clinton "crooked," Comey a "dirty cop," Daniels a "horse face" and Cohen a "rat." Who will be next to join Trump's list of the estranged? It should not take too long to find out.

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