An anonymous senior Trump administration official assailed President Donald Trump’s “amorality” and reckless decision-making in a New York Times op-ed published on September 5th and said he or she is part of a “resistance” working to thwart Trump’s worst impulses.
“The dilemma — which (Trump) does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the Times piece reads. “I would know. I am one of them.”
The Times said disclosing the name of the official, who is known to the publication, would jeopardize the official’s job, and that publishing the piece anonymously was the only way to deliver an important perspective to readers. Major newspapers almost never publish unnamed op-ed pieces. At The New York Times, it is very rare, but not entirely unprecedented.
The op-ed amplified the sense of paranoia inside the West Wing and resurrected the feeling that the White House is under assault from within, as per reports. Trump administration officials, struggling to mount a defense to Woodward’s tell-all book, were stunned when the op-ed was published Wednesday afternoon, left guessing and quietly pointing fingers at other officials as they tried to figure out who wrote it, even texting reporters possible guesses.
Speculation rose that it could be someone in the vice president’s office given the op-ed’s inclusion of the word “lodestar” and several speeches Mike Pence gave using the unusual term.
Pence’s deputy chief of staff and communications director Jarrod Agen denied that Pence or anyone from their office authored the New York Times op-ed.
The op-ed came on the heels of reports based on a damning book about Trump’s presidency by veteran journalist Bob Woodward and amplified the sense that top advisers to the President have serious concerns about his conduct in office and leadership abilities. And it is likely to compound Trump’s sense of paranoia that he is surrounded by advisers who may be duplicitous and untrustworthy.
Trump quickly lashed out, dismissing the op-ed as “really a disgrace” and “gutless” and assailing the author and The New York Times for publishing the anonymous opinion piece. “We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times that’s talking about he’s part of the resistance inside the Trump administration,” Trump said. “This is what we have to deal with. And you know the dishonest media … But it’s really a disgrace.”
He then pivoted to his accomplishments, claiming that “nobody has done what this administration has done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through.”
Trump later tweeted a pointed and unsubstantiated attack on the Times, questioning if the author of the op-ed exists. If the author does exist, the organization should publicly identify the individual, Trump said.
“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?” Trump tweeted. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”
The op-ed offers a firsthand account that corroborates key themes of Woodward’s book: that some of the President’s top advisers have a dim view of the commander in chief and are quietly working to thwart Trump’s most reckless and impulsive decisions from becoming a reality.
The author writes the resistance inside the Trump administration is not the same “resistance” of the left against the President and said they and like-minded colleagues working to thwart some of Trump’s actions “want the administration to succeed … But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”
“That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
The result, the official writes, has been a “two-track presidency” in which Trump’s own worldview — uttered both in public and private — diverges from some key actions taken by the administration, like those involving additional sanctions against Russia.
A dramatic alternative to the quiet effort to thwart some of Trump’s more concerning actions was, however, considered, the official said: invoking the 25th Amendment.
The official alleges there were “early whispers within” Trump’s Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would require a majority of Cabinet officials to declare to Congress they believe the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Explaining the “resistance” effort, the senior administration official offers a damning portrait of Trump’s character and leadership ability.
The author argues the “root of the problem is the President’s amorality” and assails Trump’s “reckless decisions,” “erratic behavior” and what the official describes as the President’s “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” leadership style.
“The root of the problem is the President’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making,” the official writes. “Although he was elected as a Republican, the President shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people.” Trump officials react
It’s impossible to know in the moment when a presidency begins to dissolve. But after a devastating 48 hours, it’s already clear that Donald Trump’s will never be the same. These statements and those behind this “resistance movement” warn that the President of the United States is not only unfit to be the most powerful man in the world, but is a venal mix of ignorance and ego, pettiness, malignancy and recklessness that is putting the republic and the world itself at risk.