WASHINGTON: Four top White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, said on Thursday they did not write an anonymous column in the New York Times that described “a quiet resistance” to President Donald Trump within his own administration.
Amid intense speculation over who wrote the piece, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, previously Trump’s CIA director, said he was not the author and slammed the Times for publishing the piece.
“It’s not mine,” Pompeo told reporters on a trip to India, saying the Times should not have “put it in their newspaper”.
The Pentagon said Defence Secretary James Mattis did not write the piece. “It was not his op-ed,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
Op-ed piece says some officials are working from within to frustrate parts of president’s agenda
The Times published the column on Wednesday, saying it was by a senior official in the administration. The paper’s opinion section said it was taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous article because disclosing the author’s identity would jeopardise the person’s job.
The piece, which slammed Trump’s leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective”, said some senior officials had been working from within to frustrate parts of the president’s agenda and protect the country from his worst impulses.
The official wrote: “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.
“Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them.”
The article triggered a guessing game in Washington about whether the author worked in the White House or an agency. Some of the language in the article, including the use of the unusual word “lodestar”, was the subject of wide online speculation and language searches.
A spokesman for Pence criticised the Times and said the vice president did not write anonymous opinion columns. “The vice president puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts,” Pence’s spokesman Jarrod Agen said on Twitter.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement: “Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is patently false. We did not.”
A furious Trump called on Wednesday for the unmasking of the official who wrote the article. He asked if the unsigned op-ed could be considered treasonous, assailed the newspaper for the “gutless” piece and questioned whether the senior official it was attributed to actually existed.
“TREASON?” the president posted in response to the article entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”.
“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phoney 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!”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders separately called on the individual to resign.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018