WASHINGTON — A day after a senior administration official described President Donald Trump as amoral, impetuous, petty and ineffective in an anonymous essay, the denials from the upper echelon of the administration started to roll in.
The mystery writer is not Vice President Mike Pence, a spokesman said Thursday. “Our office is above such amateur acts,” the vice president’s spokesman, Jarrod Agen, said in a morning Twitter post, referring to the op-ed published Wednesday in The New York Times.
“It is not mine,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said.
“Patently false,” said Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, responding to rumors that he or his principal deputy wrote the piece. “We did not.”
The author, whose identity is known to The Times editorial page department but was not shared with the newsroom, describes him or herself as one of many senior officials in the Trump administration who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
Since the piece was published, there has been a scramble to identify the anonymous official, prompting text analysis and speculation about motive. Trump demanded that The Times “turn him/her over to government at once,” citing national security concerns.
And what was to be an important week in Washington instead evolved into a week of denials.
First, Trump and his aides pushed back against allegations in a new book about his presidency by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post. And now similar denials arrived from senior administration officials who want to assure the president that they are not the “gutless” anonymous person whom Trump suggested might even be treasonous.
Trump and his aides are placing blame on a favorite scapegoat, the news media, for the startling details about some of the president’s closest aides doing end-runs around him to stave off what they considered dangerous policy decisions.
The president spent much of Wednesday afternoon and evening fuming at the media. And on Thursday morning, he resumed his venting, and thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for continuing to have faith in him.
Traveling in India, Pompeo said if he felt he was not able to “execute the commander’s intent,” he would resign.