US President Donald Trump tore into a reporter who asked him about Democrat plans to scrutinize his personal finances on Wednesday, accusing them of “presidential harassment”.
After branding Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, which is running the investigation, a “political hack”, Trump went on to say: “No other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment. And it’s unfortunate. And it really does hurt our country.”
Seemingly unaware of the irony of the harassment he deals out daily to other politicians, Trump blustered on. By Thursday morning, the charge had escalated – and advanced to proper noun status – with a tweet from @realDonaldTrump accusing Schiff of “Unlimited Presidential Harassment”.
Little more than an hour later, swiftly following a tweet criticising Democratic leadership in Virginia, Trump adopted the phrase again – upping the letter case once again to provide an all-caps: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!”
Like most of his ideas, “presidential harassment” is not actually a Trump original.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, used it in October, telling the Associated Press: “This business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they [the Democrats] think it is.”
After that, Trump used the phrase several times, including a tweet in early January attacking Democrats over the government shutdown. But this latest flurry of usage suggests it could be on its way to the presidential canon to join regular favourites “WITCH HUNT!”, “fake news!” and “sad!”
Perhaps of all his slogans, this would be the easiest to repurpose, as a way to describe Trump’s own behaviour before and during his presidency: grabbing women by the pussy, calling Elizabeth Warren ”Pocahontas” or mocking Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at a rally all sound like fantastic examples of presidential harassment.
Indeed it was once difficult to find a catchall term to describe President Trump’s many different flavours of bullying behaviour and alleged sexual misconduct. But now he has provided us with one. Well, he was always good with a catchphrase.