Trump underlings working to "frustrate" his agenda, anonymous official writes; president angered

Trump attacks anonymous essay by White House insider as "gutless"; White House calls on author to resign

By Nicole Karlis

Published September 5, 2018 5:45PM (EDT)

 (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster)

This article has been updated since its original publication.

An anonymous Trump administration official has apparently broken ranks for the sake of America’s democracy, and wants the country to know that an internal “resistance” is growing inside Donald Trump’s White House. This revelation comes by way of an unprecedented op-ed published in the New York Times on Wednesday.

The article titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” was written by someone identified only as “a senior official" in that administration, whose identity is known to the Times editors but (so far) not to anyone else. The anonymous official claims to have “vowed to thwart parts of [the president's] agenda and his worst inclinations.”

At a White House event later on Wednesday, Trump attacked what he invariably calls "the failing New York Times" and described the op-ed as "gutless." Although the president repeatedly described the article as an "editorial," it was not presented as the opinion of the paper's editorial board.

“We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times talking about he’s part of the resistance within the Trump administration,” Trump said. “This is what we have to deal with. So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the article's author "has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected president of the United States. ... This coward should do the right thing and resign.”

Those reactions are perhaps not surprising. Here is the author's assessment of the situation in the White House:

The dilemma — which [Trump] 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. I would know. I am one of them.

When using the word “resistance” the author makes clear that he or she does not mean the left-wing, anti-Trump "resistance" as such. The author evidently identifies as a conservative, and claims to want the administration to achieve its goals, largely by working around the chief executive.

We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But 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.

That is why 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.

The author continues to explain that Trump’s biggest problem is “amorality,” and the principles that guide his decision-making. He says that while Trump identifies as a Republican, he displays no understanding of traditional Republican ideals such as “free minds, free markets and free people.”

READ MORE: The Year of the Woman in electoral politics? Maybe so — but not for Republicans

Not all is doom and gloom within the Trump administration, according to the official. There have been "bright spots" ignored by the "near-ceaseless negative coverage," including deregulation, tax reform and an increase in military spending.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. 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. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with Trump, as has widely been reported, “veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back,” the author explains.

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

The nameless official concludes that the intra-Trump resistance “will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

This op-ed has led some on Twitter to call for the 25th Amendment -- which allows for the Cabinet to remove an unfit president -- to be deployed, using the hashtag #25thAmendmentNow.

Today's hottest topics

Check out the latest stories and most recent guests on SalonTV.


Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

MORE FROM Nicole Karlis