Anonymous attack on Trump roils White House

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The White House was knocked on its heels for a second consecutive day on Wednesday after The New York Times published an op-ed from an anonymous senior administration official describing coordinated efforts among staff to push back against President Trump.

In extraordinary language, the op-ed blasted the president’s “amorality” and portrayed the administration as being inhabited by aides who had banded together to “thwart” Trump’s worst instincts.

It served as a double whammy of sorts for Trump coming a day after publication of excerpts from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book that similarly casts aides as being in rebellion against the president.

{mosads}“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,” wrote the author of the piece, titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

“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 author wrote.

The back-to-back blows come at a critical juncture for the White House, as it attempts to stave off a Democratic wave in November’s midterm elections and place focus on the likely confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump and the White House responded with fury and speed, labeling the author as a “coward” and discrediting the Times. In a one-word tweet apparently referencing the piece, Trump posed the question: “Treason?”

“We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times that’s talking about, he’s part of the resistance in the administration. This is what we have to deal with,” Trump said at a White House event, calling the editorial “gutless.”

Almost simultaneously, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement decrying the piece as “pathetic, reckless, and selfish.”

“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States,” she said. “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 president appeared prepared to address questions about the op-ed after greeting sheriffs at the White House. 

As reporters shouted questions, Trump pulled a printed article out of his jacket pocket and began rattling off a list of accomplishments from his time in office, citing tax cuts, deregulation and low unemployment.

“When you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who’s failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons, and The New York Times is failing,” Trump said at a White House event.

“If I weren’t here, I believe The New York Times probably wouldn’t exist,” he added, prompting applause from the sheriffs in the room. “When I’m not president — which hopefully will be in about six-and-a-half years from now — The New York Times, and CNN, and all of these phony media outlets will be out of business, folks.”

The New York Times editorial board noted at the top of the piece that it is aware of the author’s identity but agreed to publish the piece anonymously to avoid jeopardizing the individual’s job. It’s uncommon for the newspaper to publish an opinion piece without identifying the author, and the decision suggested the person behind the piece may be a high-ranking official.

The choice also sparked furious speculation over who the author may be and questions about whether the newspaper’s reporting staff will be bound by the condition of anonymity.

The author, described in a New York Times tweet as a “he,” distanced himself and his colleagues from the “resistance” movement championed by liberals.

In an interview with CNN, however, Times op-ed page editor Jim Dao refused to say the gender of the author.

The anonymous writer asserted that he is not a part of a “deep state” that conservatives often suggest is undermining Trump.

Instead, the author dubbed his efforts the work of “the steady state.”

“We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous,” he wrote.

The author praised the “unsung heroes” inside the administration, explaining that the group has “gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing.”

“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author wrote. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

The individual’s assertions that advisers and aides have defied the president on matters they deem necessary mirrors the environment described in Woodward’s book, which is set for a Tuesday release.

In “Fear: Trump in the White House,” the veteran reporter depicts a White House in which Trump and aides often bad-mouth each other, and senior advisers push back as the administration undergoes a “nervous breakdown.”

Former top economic adviser Gary Cohn is said to have snatched documents from Trump’s desk after he worried that the president signing them would have led to economic and national security disasters, according to excerpts published in The Washington Post.

Woodward described another example from April 2017 in which Trump urged Defense Secretary James Mattis that the U.S. should “f—ing kill” Syrian President Bashar Assad following a chemical attack in the country.

Mattis reportedly went along with the president’s demands during the phone call, but immediately told aides after hanging up that they would take a “much more measured” approach.

The book also includes quotes from Mattis characterizing Trump as acting like a “fifth- or sixth-grader,” as well as chief of staff John Kelly calling the president an “idiot” and “unhinged.”

Kelly issued a statement denying he called Trump an idiot, while Mattis put out a statement asserting he never said or heard anything attributed to him in Woodward’s book.

Trump has acknowledged the statements on multiple occasions since Tuesday night, sharing them on Twitter and offering praise for the loyalty his Cabinet members displayed.

“He didn’t have to write that statement,” Trump said of Mattis during a Wednesday meeting with GOP congressional leadership. “But I did appreciate it, and I appreciated the statement of John Kelly, and I appreciated the statement of many others.”



Tags Donald Trump Gary Cohn James Mattis John Kelly The New York Times

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