John Krull: Once and forever complainer-in-chief

Under the pressure of sitting as the accused in a criminal trial, former President Donald Trump reveals daily who he is.

A self-pitying whiner who never accepts responsibility for his actions.

The popular perception is that Trump is a tough guy, a strong man in waiting, a bully who never backs down from a fight.

What nonsense.

When others confront Trump about something he’s done, his first reaction always is to complain that he’s not being treated fairly.

When journalists ask him tough questions, he complains that they’re not being nice to him—as if that were their job. When his political opponents criticize him anywhere near as harshly as he does them, he complains that they’re not being fair. When tragic events—the pandemic, natural disasters, etc.—arise, he complains that no president or leader ever had it tougher than he does.

The unifying theme here is that he complains—with or without cause.




He’s on trial in New York right now, facing credible evidence that he paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep his 2016 presidential election campaign alive. That election, of course, was the one he won, but it’s clear now that even then a pattern was forming.

Even then, Trump tried to find all sorts of ways, several of them illegal, to tilt the vote his way. In 2020, he summoned a mob of insurrectionists to the nation’s capital to try to overturn the results of that presidential contest.

And now, in 2024, he threatens violence again if the balloting doesn’t go his way.

This, from a guy who constantly complains that others are “cheating” him.

No wonder, there’s a cliché making the rounds. It goes like this:

Half of what Donald Trump says about others is confession. The other half is projection.

And all of it is whining.

This trial has demonstrated Trump’s endless capacity for feeling sorry for himself. He has complained that, in imposing a gag order preventing Trump from attacking the prosecutors, the jury, the witnesses or the court itself, the judge has treated the former president with singular harshness.

The opposite is true.

If anyone else had said the things Trump has—if anyone else had racked up 10 (and counting) contempt of court rulings—he or she would have been inhabiting government housing far less plush than the White House.

Trump also complains that the gag order is both an assault on his First Amendment rights and what he calls “election interference.”


Was he planning to make paying $130,000 to a porn star just after his wife gave birth to their son the centerpiece of his campaign?

(And spare us the fatuous argument that Trump didn’t have a dalliance with Daniels. If you believe that, then you believe, as U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, suggested, that Trump had to pay a woman $130,000 not to have sex with him.)

If Trump wasn’t willing to make his adultery and his attempt to cover it up a main theme of his campaign, he hasn’t been silenced at all. The judge, after all, isn’t preventing him from calling President Joe Biden an idiot or stopping Trump from saying he’d love to be a dictator.

He’s just preventing him from trying to intimidate witnesses or the jury.

That distinction doubtless is lost on the former president, who is devout in his faith that he always is a victim.

That his life is so hard.

He’s even been whining—again and again and again—that the courtroom in which he’s being tried is too cold.

Poor baby.

He sees this, too, as evidence that he’s being persecuted.

In fact, courtrooms often are on the chilly side. The members of the jury and other players in the proceedings must stay aware and alert during long hours of often-tedious presentations of evidence.

Warm spaces tend to encourage people to nod off.

Keeping the thermostat low discourages dozing off—most of the time, that is. Trump, it seems, has struggled to stay awake while in court. His catnaps during the proceedings have been a godsend for late-night comics and editorial cartoonists everywhere.

At least, though, he hasn’t complained about suffering from insomnia.

Consider that a small victory.

John Krull is director of Franklin College‚Äôs Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College. Send comments to [email protected].