I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

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"I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration"
Trump Anonymous Senior Official Op-Ed.png
The graphic published along with the essay
AuthorPublished anonymously (later revealed to be Miles Taylor)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Published inThe New York Times
Publication typeOp-ed
PublisherArthur Gregg Sulzberger
Media typeNewspaper
Publication dateSeptember 5, 2018

"I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" is an anonymous essay published by The New York Times on September 5, 2018. The author was described as a senior official working for the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump. About a week before the 2020 presidential election, Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, revealed himself as the author.

The op-ed criticizes Trump and states that many current members of the administration deliberately undermine his suggestions and orders for the good of the country. It also states that some cabinet members in the early days of the administration discussed using the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution as a way to remove the president from power.

The New York Times editorial board said that it knew the author's identity but granted the person anonymity to protect them from reprisal.[1][2] The publication of this editorial was unusual because few New York Times pieces have been anonymously written.[3] Trump expressed outrage and called for an investigation; the author's identity drew much speculation in the media, with over 30 senior administration officials denying their involvement. A Warning, a book also anonymously written by Taylor, was published on November 19, 2019.

Political environment[edit]

The essay was published on September 5, 2018. During the week that the article was published, the book Fear: Trump in the White House by political author Bob Woodward was being promoted in the media ahead of its September 11, 2018, release date. Woodward's book depicts the Trump administration as being engulfed in chaos and internal opposition to Trump's impulses.[4] The day before the essay's publication, the US Senate Judiciary Committee began public hearings on controversial US Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh. This timing was also two months prior to the 2018 US elections. The timing has been questioned as a possible calculated diversion, although The New York Times editorial board denied this.[1] The essay praised Senator John McCain, whose death occurred 11 days prior to the essay's publication.[5]

Contents[edit]

The author of the essay writes that they, and many of their colleagues, deliberately fail to follow some directives from the president when they feel the proposal would be bad for the country, "working diligently" to block his "worst inclinations".[6] The author writes, "The root of the problem is the president's amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making".[7] The author expresses support for a traditional Republican platform, and particularly the Trump tax policy, while disagreeing strongly with the Trump foreign policy, and taking pride in colleagues' efforts to shift that policy in regard to Russia. The paper's editorial page editor summarized the column's perspective as "that of a conservative explaining why they felt that even if working for the Trump administration meant compromising some principles, it ultimately served the country if they could achieve some of the president’s policy objectives while helping resist some of his worst impulses".[1] The author disavowed any resemblance to the so-called "deep state": "This isn't the work of the so-called deep state. It's the work of the steady state."

Identity of the author[edit]

There was much speculation about the identity of Anonymous. The New York Times said that they were working with a single author, not a group of officials and that the text was lightly edited by them, but not for the purpose of obscuring the author's identity. They said that the definition of "senior administration official" was used in regular practice by journalists to describe "positions in the upper echelon of an administration, such as the one held by this writer".[1]

The newspaper's editorial page editor, op-ed editor, and publisher knew the identity of the author. Patrick Healy, the newspaper's politics editor, said that no identifying information had been leaked to The New York Times's newsroom. The agreement between the newspaper's editorial department and the author did not prevent the newspaper's news department from investigating the identity of the author.[8]

According to James Dao, the paper's editorial page editor, the author was introduced to them by a trusted intermediary, and the author's identity was verified by background checking and direct communication. Dao said the use of a vaguely described anonymous identity was believed to be necessary to protect the author from reprisal, "and that concern has been borne out by the president's reaction to the essay".[1] In response to a reader's question about whether the paper might have to reveal the author's name, Dao replied "We intend to do everything in our power to protect the identity of the writer and have great confidence that the government cannot legally force us to reveal it."[1]

Several theories about who wrote the op-ed were offered. Some theories looked at which administration officials have a record of using certain words that appear in the essay. Specifically, the theories focused on the use of the words 'steady state', 'lodestar' and 'first principles'.[9] Some offshore bookmakers took bets on who the anonymous author was; Vice President Mike Pence was the favorite at one site, while then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions led the field at another.[10]

More than 30 senior administration officials, including the actual author, Miles Taylor, denied authoring the editorial:

U.S. senator Rand Paul suggested that the president force members of his administration to take polygraph examinations. Presidential advisers did consider polygraph exams as well as requiring officials to sign sworn affidavits. Reports surfaced that the administration came up with a list of about a dozen people who are suspected to have authored the editorial.[20] By September 7, Trump said that the Justice Department should open an investigation to determine who wrote the essay. However, the Justice Department would only be able to open an investigation if it is determined that the editorial publicized classified information.[21]

On October 28, 2020, Miles Taylor came forward as "Anonymous".[22]

Reaction[edit]

Trump responds to the news of the anonymous essay.

Trump reacted in private with what was described as "volcanic" anger.[23] Via Twitter, he stated that the author was "failing" and "probably here for all the wrong reasons".[2] He also questioned via Twitter whether the aide was another "phony source" invented by the "failing New York Times". 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!"[3][24] He later tweeted: "TREASON?"[6]

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the author a "coward" and said that they should resign.[3] Some Democrats, including Robby Mook and Peter Daou, criticized the author for not doing enough to stop Trump. Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) commended the author for speaking out against the president, but criticized the author for maintaining anonymity, saying, "This is the problem with a lot of Republicans, including in the House: they privately say he's wrong, but they don't do anything about it".[25] Former president Barack Obama warned that the op-ed should be viewed as a sign of "dangerous times" rather than as a source of comfort, criticizing the actions of the author as undemocratic.[26]

Georgetown University political scientist Elizabeth N. Saunders noted that while it is accurate that staff within administrations often push back on the sitting president's views and that staff leak things to the press, the extent to which senior advisers within the Trump administration push back against him is "essentially unprecedented".[27] Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez questioned the author's motives, believing that the editorial would make Trump "even more paranoid" and cause capable staffers to be succeeded by "loyalist nuts and/or Trump family members".[28]

Followup book[edit]

On October 22, 2019, The Washington Post revealed that the anonymous author wrote a book, again anonymously, about their experiences inside the White House; it was released on November 19.[29][30][31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "How the Anonymous Op-Ed Came to Be". The New York Times. September 8, 2018. Archived from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Rascoe, Ayesha (September 5, 2018). "White House Rejects NYT Column Attributed to Anonymous Official That Criticizes Trump". NPR. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Diamond, Jeremy; Sullivan, Kate (September 5, 2018). "Trump slams damning New York Times op-ed as 'gutless'". CNN. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  4. ^ Bacon, John. "Woodward book 'Fear' reflects chaos in White House, says Kelly called Trump an 'idiot'". USA TODAY.
  5. ^ Wingett Sanchez, Yvonne. "'Lodestar' John McCain quoted in anonymous 'New York Times' essay attacking Donald Trump". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on October 1, 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Segers, Grace (September 6, 2018). "Anonymous senior Trump official writes op-ed on "resistance" within administration". CBS News. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Wilkie, Christina (September 5, 2018). "'I am part of the resistance': Anonymous Trump official writes an extraordinary NYT op-ed". CNBC. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Wattles, Jackie. "Not even New York Times' top news editor knows who wrote anonymous op-ed". CNN/Money. Archived from the original on September 9, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (September 6, 2018). "All the Theories on Who Wrote the Anonymous Anti-Trump Op-Ed". New York. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Li, David K. (September 6, 2018). "Bookies place odds on identity of anonymous author of NY Times op-ed". Fox News. Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Mettler, Katie; Kirkpatrick, Nick (September 6, 2018). "These officials have denied writing the Trump 'resistance' op-ed". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c Stracqualursi, Veronica; Zeleny, Jeff; Acosta, Jim (September 6, 2018). "Here are the administration officials who deny they wrote The New York Times op-ed". CNN. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  13. ^ Sherman, Gabriel. "'He's Destroying Your Presidency': Javanka Blamed Kelly for the Times Op-Ed". The Hive. Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Christnot, Amelia Mavis. "Kevin Hassett Tells New York Times That If He Is 'Anonymous' That They Have His Permission to Reveal His Name". Archived from the original on September 9, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Trump Says Times Op-Ed 'Virtually' Treason: White House Update". Bloomberg. September 6, 2018. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  16. ^ Rooney, Kate (September 7, 2018). "Larry Kudlow rips the person who wrote the NYT op-ed, delivers impassioned defense of Trump". CNBC. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "'Haha nope': The many op-ed denials from Trump's inside circle". POLITICO. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  18. ^ "Anonymous Op-Ed Criticizes Trump, Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings". NPR. Archived from the original on September 9, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  19. ^ "See what Miles Taylor said when he was asked if he was 'anonymous' in August". CNN. October 28, 2020.
  20. ^ Baker, Peter; Haberman, Maggie; Sullivan, Eileen (September 6, 2018). "It Wasn't Me: Pence, Pompeo and a Parade of Administration Officials Deny Writing Op-Ed". Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  21. ^ Miller, Zeke; Lemire, Jonathan (September 7, 2018). "Pres. Trump calls for Justice Dept. investigation of op-ed write". Associated Press. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  22. ^ Shear, Michael D. (October 28, 2020). "Miles Taylor, a Former Homeland Security Official, Reveals He Was 'Anonymous'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  23. ^ "On the hunt for a betrayer, a 'volcanic' Trump lashes out". NBC News. September 5, 2018. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Hayes, Christal (September 5, 2018). "Whodunit? Social media users search for anonymous Trump official who penned scathing NYT essay". USA Today. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  25. ^ Sommerfeldt, Chris (September 5, 2018). "Democrats aren't buying anonymous Trump official's claim of an internal 'resistance': 'You're complicit'". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  26. ^ Merica, Dan (September 7, 2018). "'This is not normal': Obama slams anonymous author of New York Times op-ed and warns people against feeling comforted by it". Business Insider. Archived from the original on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  27. ^ "Analysis | Sure, Trump's advisers aren't the first to push back against a president. But what's happening now is completely unprecedented". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  28. ^ "In defense of the New York Times's anonymous Trump official". Vox. Archived from the original on September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  29. ^ "Anonymous Trump official who authored NYT op-ed to release book". Axios.
  30. ^ Rucker, Philip (October 22, 2019). "Anonymous author of Trump 'resistance' op-ed to publish a tell-all book". Washington Post.
  31. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. "Anonymous Times Op-Ed Author to Publish Tell-All About Trump Administration". WSJ.

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