Saturday 20 October 2018

'Secret resistance' - Trump demands New York Times reveal explosive op-ed author's identity

  • White House staff secretly 'resisting' and undermining Trump - anonymous official claims in New York Times
  • 'Senior US government officials working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda'
  • 'Whispers' of 25th Amendment, which could be used to remove the US president if his cabinet agrees
  • Trump slammed 'gutless' New York Times op-ed and has called for source to be identified
President Donald Trump called it was a “gutless editorial” (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Donald Trump called it was a “gutless editorial” (Susan Walsh/AP)

Clark Mindock

Senior government officials, from the White House to various executive branch departments and agencies, are “working to insulate their operations from” President Donald Trump’s whims, according to an anonymous op-ed published in The New York Times.

The article says that the president will “veer off topic and off the rails, [that] he engages in repetitive rants, and [that] his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back”.

In order to balance that behaviour, the author says “senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his own worst inclinations” — and that there have been "whispers" of the 25th Amendment, which could be used to remove the president if his cabinet agrees that is the best course of action.

The article is consistent with recent reports from the forthcoming book written by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, which indicates that senior officials removed documents from the president’s desk in order to keep him from signing them.

A copy of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president to take over if the commander in chief is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” (National Archives via AP)
A copy of the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president to take over if the commander in chief is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” (National Archives via AP)

“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 anonymous author wrote.

The official goes on to say that the president was elected as a Republican, but has little interest in those ideas. They then describe a widespread effort to undermine Mr Trump by his staff.

“From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions,” they write. “Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims”.

Mr Trump, speaking in the White House shortly after the publication of the letter, said that the op-ed was “really a disgrace”, and attacked the credibility of The New York Times and CNN — two news organisations that he regularly spars with.

He later questioned whether the claims amounted to treason in a Twitter post, before calling for the "gutless" anonymous official  to be turned over to authorities, citing "national security purposes".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded by bashing both The New York Times and the anonymous source.

President Donald Trump lashed out at the New York Times for publishing the op-ed (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Donald Trump lashed out at the New York Times for publishing the op-ed (Susan Walsh/AP)

“Nearly 62 million people voted for Donald J Trump in 2016, earning him 306 Electoral College votes — versus 232 for his opponent. None of them voted for a gutless, anonymous source to the failing New York Times,” Ms Sanders wrote in a statement.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed. This is a new low for the so-called ‘paper of record’, and it should issue an apology, just as it did after the election for its disastrous coverage of the Trump campaign. This is just another example of the liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the President."

The shocking report in The New York Times — titled “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump Administration” — has sent shock waves through Washington, and led some onlookers to note that the circumstances described could amount to a non-violent overthrow of the United States government.

For instance, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace noted the admission could be defined in grave terms: “In other countries, they sometimes call this a coup”.

Wallace was joined by the likes of David Rothkopf, a national security expert and former deputy under secretary of commerce for international trade policy and development during the Clinton administration.

“They swore an oath to the Constitution and to the US, anonymous complaints and assuming responsibilities to undermine the president does not honor either of those promises.  It is confessing to a kind of ‘patriotic coup’, Mr Rothkopf wrote on Twitter. “This is not how our government of laws should serve us”.

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