WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a ‘‘midnight self-massacre’’ to sound a public alarm about President Donald Trump’s conduct, but rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize an already teetering government, according to a new book by an unnamed author.
In ‘‘A Warning’’ by Anonymous, obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release, a writer described only as ‘‘a senior official in the Trump administration’’ paints a chilling portrait of the president as cruel, inept, and a danger to the nation he was elected to lead.
The author, who first captured attention in 2018 as the unidentified author of a New York Times opinion column, describes Trump careening from one self-inflicted crisis to the next, ‘‘like a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.’’
The book is an unsparing character study of Trump, from his morality to his intellectual depth, which the author writes is based on his or her observations and experiences. The author claims many other current and former administration officials share his or her views.
The 259-page book, which goes on sale Nov. 19, does not re-create many specific episodes in vivid detail, which the author writes was intentional to protect his or her identity.
At a moment when a stream of political appointees and career public servants have testified before Congress about Trump’s conduct as part of the House impeachment inquiry, the book’s author defends his or her decision to remain anonymous.
‘‘I have decided to publish this anonymously because this debate is not about me,’’ the author writes. ‘‘It is about us. It is about how we want the presidency to reflect our country, and that is where the discussion should center. Some will call this ‘cowardice.’ My feelings are not hurt by the accusation. Nor am I unprepared to attach my name to criticism of President Trump. I may do so, in due course.’’
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham derided the book as a ‘‘work of fiction’’ and its anonymous author as a ‘‘coward.’’
‘‘The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,’’ Grisham wrote in an e-mail. ‘‘Real authors reach out to their subjects to get things fact checked — but this person is in hiding, making that very basic part of being a real writer impossible. Reporters who choose to write about this farce should have the journalistic integrity to cover the book as what it is — a work of fiction.’’
Earlier this week, the Justice Department warned the publisher and the author’s agents, Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin, that the official may be violating a nondisclosure agreement. Javelin responded by accusing the administration of seeking to unmask the author.
The author’s Sept. 5, 2018, op-ed in the Times, headlined ‘‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,’’ depicted some senior officials as a bulwark protecting the country from the president’s reckless impulses. Trump denounced it at the time as treasonous.