An anonymous senior official within President Donald Trump’s administration has published an opinion piece in The New York Times denouncing the President and outlining how those high up in the administration work to thwart him. The author, who was identified by The New York Times only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” spoke of how they and other colleagues work behind the scenes in what they believe is in the best interest of the country.
“The dilemma—which [the President] does not fully grasp—is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the author said. “I would know. I am one of them.”
The author cited the President’s impulsive nature, along with his rash, often uninformed decision-making, as a key reason they feel the need to protect the country from his influence. According to the unnamed official, the President does not display loyalty to any particular principles, party, or position on important issues affecting our country. The issue that the author says those within the administration have is not with the President’s policies; rather, it is with his mercurial tendency to make “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”
The unidentified official noted that many within the White House want the Trump administration to succeed and make positive change in America. In fact, they identified positive changes that have already come to pass, including deregulation, tax reform, and strengthening the military.
But the author said that those successes came in spite of the President’s style, which they described as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” The official said that many within the administration express incredulity with the President and work to preserve their own agendas and work. They described the current situation as a “two-track presidency,” where Donald Trump rails on about one thing, while those who carry out actions on behalf of the White House work to maintain steady, effective policies.
“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” wrote the Trump admin official. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”
President Trump responded to the article and The New York Times’ publication of an anonymous op-ed by pointing out what his administration has done. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” he wrote on Twitter.
The Failing New York Times! pic.twitter.com/SHsXvYKpBf
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
The article was published concurrently with the release of Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, about the Trump White House. The President has said the book is full of misquotes and false information. Senior officials, including Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, have said they were misquoted in the book.
The New York Times rarely publishes opinion pieces anonymously. It is often crucial to readers to understand who is writing the article, what experience they have, and how it may influence their opinion. But the newspaper believes that this particular piece stands alone without identifying exactly who wrote it to the public. It also protects the author from potential retribution, allowing them to write freely and honestly.
“We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure,” The New York Times prefaced the article. “We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”
“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 New York Times anonymous author.
Letters have been published anonymously since the birth of our nation. Benjamin Franklin published letters under the pseudonym Silence Dogood. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote as Publius when they published their “Federalist Papers.” Writing anonymously, and thus more freely, as a public figure has a long and influential history in American politics.
Within the administration, there has been a lot of confusion and subsequent searches for the unnamed author. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he did not write the op-ed and is concerned about the author working to “undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do” as well as the media’s role.
Concerns also arise over the implications of those in positions of influence to work to undermine an elected official. What some see as patriotic, others, including Trump, see as treason. It does raise eyebrows that senior officials within the Trump admin may be making decisions that are counter to the guidance given by the elected President when they don’t agree with it.
Supporters champion the author and the other unidentified officials who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [President Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations” as heroes. They see these actions as necessary to preserving our American way of governing and garnering respect on the international stage.
President Trump has never handled criticism well. With Bob Woodward's book and an anonymous Op-Ed by a senior Trump official, this past week has proved especially challenging, notes the Editorial Board https://t.co/RLpCuFI4Va pic.twitter.com/4iLMI2kmVZ
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) September 7, 2018
While the reception to the piece has been mixed, it offers an interesting commentary on working within the Trump White House. “There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first,” the author concluded. “But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.”