I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
|"I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration"|
The graphic published along with the essay
|Author||An anonymous senior Trump administration official whose identity is being withheld by the New York Times editorial board|
|Published in||The New York Times|
|Publisher||Arthur Gregg Sulzberger|
|Publication date||September 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 is described as a senior official working for the administration of Donald Trump.
The op-ed criticizes Trump and says that many current members of the administration deliberately disobey or ignore his suggestions and orders for the good of the country. It also says 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 knows the author's identity but granted the person anonymity to protect them from reprisal. The publication of this editorial was unusual because few New York Times pieces have been anonymously written.
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 release date. Woodward's book depicts the Trump administration as being engulfed in chaos and internal opposition to Trump's impulses. 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. The essay praised Sen. John McCain, whose death occurred 11 days prior to the essay's publication.
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". 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". 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." 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."
The New York Times has said 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 the definition of "senior administration official" was that used in regular practice by journalists to describe "positions in the upper echelon of an administration, such as the one held by this writer".
The newspaper's editorial page editor, op-ed editor, and publisher know the identity of the author. Patrick Healy, the newspaper's politics editor, said that no identifying information has been leaked to The New York Times's newsroom. The agreement between the newspaper's editorial department and the author does not prevent the newspaper's news department from investigating the identity of the author.
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. He said the use of an anonymous, vaguely described 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". 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."
Several theories about who wrote the op-ed have been 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'. 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.
More than 30 senior administration officials have denied authoring the editorial:
- Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor
- Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
- John R. Bolton, National Security Advisor
- Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
- Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation
- Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence
- Kellyanne Conway, Presidential Counselor
- Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education
- Zachary Fuentes, Deputy Chief of Staff
- Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations
- Gina Haspel, Director of the CIA
- Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary
- Jon Huntsman Jr., Ambassador to Russia
- Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council
- Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative
- Jim Mattis, Secretary of Defense
- Don McGahn, White House Counsel
- Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration
- Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury
- Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security
- Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
- Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States
- Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture
- Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy
- Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
- Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
- Jeff Sessions, Attorney General
- Raj Shah, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary
- Joseph Simons Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission
- Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States
- Andrew R. Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- Christopher A. Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
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. 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.
Trump reacted in private with what was described as "volcanic" anger. Via Twitter he said the author was "failing" and "probably here for all the wrong reasons". 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!" He later tweeted: "TREASON?"
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the author a "coward" and said they should resign. Some Democrats, including Robby Mook and Peter Daou, criticized the author for not doing enough to stop Trump. Rep. 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". 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.
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". Cato Institute scholar Julian Sanchez questioned the author's motives: "Because I can pretty much guarantee that this: (1) Triggers an epic tantrum and makes Trump even more paranoid than he already is, & (2) Sets off a mole-hunt that results in suspiciously competent persons being purged & replaced with loyalist nuts and/or Trump family members."
- Deep Throat (Watergate)
- List of anonymously published works
- Primary Colors, a political novel originally published anonymously
- The New York Times anonymous publications
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