Trump rages over article on ‘resistance’ in White House


US President Donald Trump vented his anger at the New York Times op-ed on Twitter yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis
US President Donald Trump vented his anger at the New York Times op-ed on Twitter yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis

Pushing back against explosive reports his own administration is conspiring against him, US President Donald Trump lashed out against the anonymous senior official who wrote a ‘New York Times’ opinion piece claiming to be part of a “resistance” working “from within” to thwart his most dangerous impulses.

Washington was consumed by a wild guessing game as to the identity of the author, and swift denials of involvement in the op-ed came yesterday from top administration officials, including from Vice President Mike Pence’s office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats, director of national intelligence.

Mr Trump was furious, tweeting yesterday morning that “The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do.”

On Wednesday night, Mr Trump tweeted a demand that if “the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called on the “coward” who wrote the piece to “do the right thing and resign”. White House officials did not immediately respond to a request to elaborate on Mr Trump’s call for the writer to be turned over to the government or the unsupported national security ground of his demand.

To some observers, the ultimatum appeared to play into the very concerns about the president’s impulses raised by the essay’s author.

Mr Trump has demanded that aides identify the leaker, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The op-ed also brought to light questions that have been whispered in Washington for more than a year: Is Trump truly in charge? And could a divided executive branch pose a danger to the country?

Former CIA director John Brennan, a fierce Trump critic, called the op-ed “active insubordination… born out of loyalty to the country”.

“This is not sustainable to have an executive branch where individuals are not following the orders of the chief executive,” Mr Brennan told NBC’s ‘Today’ show. “I do think things will get worse before they get better.

“I don’t know how Donald Trump is going to react to this. A wounded lion is a very dangerous animal, and I think Donald Trump is wounded.”

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The anonymous author, claiming to be part of the “resistance” to Mr Trump “working diligently from within” his administration, said: “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.”

“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author continued. “We fully recognise what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

The text of the op-ed was pulled apart for clues: The writer is identified as an “administration official”; does that mean a person who works outside the White House? The references to Russia and the late Senator John McCain – do they suggest someone working in national security?

Does the writing style sound like someone who worked at a think tank? In a tweet, the ‘Times’ used the pronoun “he” to refer to the writer; does that rule out all women?

The newspaper later said the tweet referring to “he” had been “drafted by someone who is not aware of the author’s identity, including the gender, so the use of ‘he’ was an error”.

Hotly debated on Twitter was the author’s use of the word “lodestar,” which pops up frequently in speeches by Pence. Could the anonymous figure be someone in Pence’s orbit?

Others argued that the word “lodestar” could have been included to throw people off.

Mr Pence’s communications director tweeted that: “The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed.”

Irish Independent

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