The New York Times on Wednesday published an op-ed online written by a senior Trump aide who claims several top officials within the administration are trying to “frustrate” parts of the president’s agenda and “worst inclinations.”
“I would know. I am one of them,” the official wrote in the piece, which was making waves throughout the nation after it was published.
The official wrote that although the group of officials wants “the administration to succeed,” they 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.”
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” the official wrote.
The author accused the president of rejecting ideals long embraced by Republicans, saying that recent conservative policy wins like tax reform “have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style.” (The writer went on to describe said style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”)
“Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the op-ed states. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”
The author also noted that there were “early whispers within the cabinet” of using the 25th Amendment to remove the president, but the notion was shot down: “So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”
The 25th Amendment is a procedure to remove presidents who are considered unfit to be in office. Cabinet members would first have to certify that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” and then two-thirds of Congress would have to concur.
President Trump railed against the op-ed during a meeting of dozens of sheriffs from across the country — including the controversial Thomas Hodgson of Massachusetts’ Bristol County — in which he said it was “really a disgrace” that an unsigned piece criticizing him was published.
Trump called the anonymous piece “gutless,” before turning his ire on the publication itself: ‘‘They don’t like Donald Trump, and I don’t like them.’’
“If I weren’t here, I believe The New York Times probably wouldn’t even exist,” he said, eliciting applause from the sheriffs gathered. Trump added that when he was no longer in office — “which hopefully will be in about six and a half years from now” — many mainstream media publications would likely go out of business because “there will be nothing to write, nothing of interest.”
Trump also tweeted about it Wednesday evening, questioning if the Times was using a “phony source.”
Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
He also tweeted “TREASON?” earlier Wednesday evening, but it was not immediately clear what he was specifically referring to.
TREASON?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders also said in a statement that the editorial “is just another example of the liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the president.”
Sanders identified the author as a “he” and said the writer of the op-ed should resign.
“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected president of the United States,” she wrote. “He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.”
The op-ed was published as the Trump administration deals with the fallout of “Fear,” a book penned by Bob Woodward that describes a dysfunctional White House. In the book, Woodward quotes top officials, including John Kelly and Jim Mattis, telling close associates that Trump was an “idiot,” acted like he was “unhinged,” and had the intellect of “a fifth- or sixth-grader.” Trump has dismissed the book as a “work of fiction.”
In the Times op-ed, the author said that across the whole Trump administration, “senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief” at the president’s comments and actions.
The author also praised the “unsung heroes” in the White House: “Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.”
The identity of the writer wasn’t immediately clear. A note from the editors at the top of the op-ed said that the official’s identity “is known to us” and that the article was published “at the request of the author.”
“We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers,” editors wrote, adding that publishing such an anonymous piece was a “rare step” for the newspaper.
Several people weighed in on the piece online, with some reacting to the piece — many of the people reacting started their thoughts with “Wow” — and some trying to guess the author’s identity.
People in the Trump Administration publishing anonymous @nytimes op-ed about invoking 25th amendment, all the damning quotes in Woodward's books, Mueller investigation, Cohen's plea deal. This is going to get wild, ugly and scary for Trump and the nation.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) September 5, 2018
This is pretty extraordinary.— Tara Setmayer (@TaraSetmayer) September 5, 2018
All I'm going to say is those of us like minded #NeverTrump Republicans KNEW Trump was dangerously unfit & we tried to warn voters. Between #BobWoodward and this @nytimes op/ed my worst fears are proving correct. 🤦♀️ https://t.co/w6J4JcRcoT
The NY Times piece is dumb. They're not "resisting" Trump they're literally working for him and advancing his agenda while normalizing the extremism he represents. If he's unfit to lead then have the cabinet invoke the 25th. Otherwise you're completely complicit— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) September 5, 2018
BREAKING!!!— JΛKΣ (@USMCLiberal) September 5, 2018
A rare anonymous OpEd in the @nytimes, from a member of the #Resistance working inside the #Trump White House.
And I’ll tell you, as a Marine who’s heard hundred of speeches from Marine commanders, this was written by #Mattis.#VetsAgainstTrumphttps://t.co/urRuNPPXb2
Read Trump’s full remarks in response to the op-ed, as provided by a White House pool report:
“Nobody has ever done in less than a two-year period what we’ve done. So when you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who’s failing, and who’s probably here for all the wrong reasons. No. And the New York Times is failing. If I weren’t here I believe the New York Times probably wouldn’t even exist. Someday, when I’m not president, which hopefully will be in about six and a half years, the New York Times, CNN and all of these phony media outlets will be out of business, folks, they’ll be out of business, because there’ll be nothing to write and there’ll be nothing of interest. So nobody has done what this administration has done. And I agree, it’s different from an agenda that’s much different from ours, and it’s certainly not [turning to the sheriffs] your agenda, that I can tell you. It’s about open borders, it’s about letting people flee into our country, it’s about disaster in crime for our country. So they don’t like Donald Trump and I don’t like them because they’re very dishonest people. Remember this also about the New York Times: When I won, they were forced to apologize to their subscribers. They wrote a letter of apology, it was the first time anybody’s ever done it, because they covered the election incorrectly. So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial. We’re doing a great job. The poll numbers are through the roof, our poll numbers are great, and guess what? Nobody’s going to come even close to beating me in 2020, because of what we’ve done. We’ve done more than anybody ever thought possible, in it’s not even two years. So thank you very much.”