Donald Trump, the US President, has faced strong criticism from an anonymous senior member of his own administration, who published an opinion-editorial in the New York Times describing the President as “amoral,” with his decisions being “impulsive, ill-informed and occasionally reckless.”
The anonymous author described how they are part of the “resistance” working to “frustrate parts of his [Mr Trump’s] agenda,” and gave a damning insight into the inner workings of the Oval Office, with officials in “daily disbelief” at the erratic nature of Mr Trump. The article also criticises Trump’s softer stance on Russia, a view in stark contrast to many in the national security establishment.
Most troubling for the President is the author’s claims of “whisperings of the 25th Amendment,” a system whereby the President can be suspended by the Vice-President and a majority of the Cabinet.
Senior officials within the administration were quick to publicly deny authorship. These included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Theories as to the identity of the author have been circulating in the press, with Vice-President Mike Pence coming under suspicion. He has publicly denied responsibility, but analysis of the op-ed by linguistics experts gave two conclusions putting Mr Pence in the spotlight. The short sentence style and the use of the word “lodestar” allegedly reflect Pence’s writing style.
However, other members of the administration are not above suspicion. Ms Haley was a critic of Mr Trump during his Republican nomination, and Trump has on multiple occasions publicly berated Mr Sessions due to the Attorney General’s refusal to interfere into the enquiry into Russian collusion with Trump’s election campaign. Republican Senator Rand Paul, an ally of Trump, has said senior officials should undergo a polygraph test.
Mr Trump responded furiously to the op-ed describing it as “gutless,” and called for Mr Sessions to investigate the identity of the author. The Justice Department would not confirm nor deny whether an enquiry has been opened. Trump is also considering legal action against the New York Times, who responded in a statement to call any action “a blatant abuse of government power.”
Given Mr Trump’s record for firing his top officials, it seems unlikely that the author will reveal their identity. Until this happens, the article will continue to add hostility and suspicion into an already tense American Presidency.