Trump Officials Deny Writing Anonymous Op-Ed Critical of the Administration

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SEPTEMBER 6, 2018

President Donald Trump speaks as Vice President Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, listen during a meeting at the White House on May 17, 2018. – Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A day after a senior administration official described President Trump as amoral, impetuous, petty and ineffective in an anonymous essay, the denials from the upper echelon of the administration started to roll in.

The mystery writer is not Vice President Mike Pence, a spokesman said Thursday. “Our office is above such amateur acts,” the vice president’s spokesman, Jarrod Agen, said in a morning Twitter post, referring to the Op-Ed published on Wednesday in The New York Times.

“It is not mine,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said.

“Patently false,” said Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, responding to rumors that he or his principal deputy wrote the piece. “We did not.”

The author, whose identity is known to The Times editorial page department but was not shared with the reporters who cover the White House, describes him or herself as one of many senior officials in the Trump administration who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Since the piece was published, there has been a scramble to identify the anonymous official, prompting text analysis and speculation about motive. Mr. Trump demanded that The Times “turn him/her over to government at once,” citing national security concerns.

And what was to be an important week in Washington marked with nomination hearings for a new Supreme Court justice and Republican efforts to maintain their majority in the House with the midterm elections just weeks away, instead evolved into a week of denials.

First, Mr. Trump and his aides pushed back against allegations in a new book about his presidency by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post. And now similar denials arrived from senior administration officials who want to assure the president that they are not the “gutless” anonymous person whom Mr. Trump suggested might even be treasonous.

Mr. Trump and his aides are placing blame on a favorite scapegoat, the news media, for the startling details about some of the president’s closest aides doing end-runs around him to stave off what they considered dangerous policy decisions.

The president spent much of Wednesday afternoon and evening fuming at the media. And on Thursday morning, he resumed his venting, and thanked the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for continuing to have faith in him.

The anonymous official also wrote that the president “shows a preference for autocrats and dictators,” and mentioned Mr. Kim.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy — & they don’t know what to do,” Mr. Trump said in another tweet on Thursday.

With the denials came a renewal of vows of sorts.

Traveling in India, Mr. Pompeo said if he felt he was not able to “execute the commander’s intent,” he would resign.

“And this person instead, according to The New York Times, chose not only to stay, but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do,” he said. “I have to tell you, I find the media’s efforts in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing.”

Mr. Coats said, “From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire IC remain focused on our mission to provide the president and policymakers with the best intelligence possible,” using an acronym to refer to the intelligence community.


Courtesy/Source: NY Times

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