The Times op-ed, anonymously authored and published on Wednesday, sparked a firestorm in Washington and a tweet storm from the president, who simultaneously accused the author of “treason” while questioning whether he even exists.
Trump went on a private hunt to discover the identity of the author, who characterized Trump as an amoral and temperamental threat to the nation surrounded by concerned senior staff and cabinet members diligently working in concert to check his worst impulses.
The extraordinary piece forced broadcast networks to interrupt their live coverage of the US Senate’s confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court. On Thursday, several of the president’s top advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, issued written statements denying any involvement in the op-ed.
“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,” the author wrote. “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 Times published the op-ed just as reviews of veteran Washington journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book, Fear: Trump Inside the White House, were released to the public this week. Excerpts of the book reveal that a resistance group within the White House, reaching its highest levels, have hidden papers from the president to avoid him seeing or signing them – an “administrative coup d’etat” with no historic precedent in American political life, Woodward writes.
The book also recounts several episodes in which the president barked dramatic orders on the fly, such as assassinating Syrian President Bashar Assad, only to back down after national security and defense staff simply refused to execute them.
On Twitter, Trump suggested he would use his powers to selectively declassify material damaging to his political enemies, after already stripping the security clearance of one critic and threatening to do the same to others.
“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy,” he wrote, and “they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”