Pence’s Office Says He Didn’t Write the Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed
(Bloomberg) -- Mike Pence’s office said the vice president wasn’t the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed claiming key administration officials were secretly working against President Donald Trump, calling the article false and "gutless," as Trump demanded the paper reveal the writer’s identity.
The denial by Pence came as other Republicans, notably Trump’s Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Senator Marco Rubio, came to the president’s defense and said the writer should have resigned before making the accusations.
"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds," Jarrod Agen, Pence’s communications director said on Twitter. "The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts."
In a Wednesday night tweet, Trump lashed out at the Times over the article’s publication, questioning whether the author even existed and citing national security as a reason for the newspaper to disclose the person’s name. The following day, he blamed the so-called deep state and his political opponents, saying they are "going crazy."
"If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!" Trump said on Twitter.
The writer, identified by the Times only as a senior administration official, said that he or she, and others in government, have vowed to thwart the president’s “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” the person wrote. “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”
Pompeo, speaking to reporters in New Delhi, said the op-ed was the work of a "deceptive bad-actor" and faulted the Times for running it. He said he believes the media is attempting to undermine Trump and he finds that "disturbing."
"I come from a place where if you’re not in a position to execute the commander’s intent, you have a singular option, that is to leave," Pompeo said.
Trump had condemned the op-ed almost as soon as it was published, in person and on Twitter. He called it "a disgrace” and the writer “gutless” during an event with sheriffs at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. The official is “probably here for all the wrong reasons,” Trump continued, and then vowed that he would win re-election in 2020.
"America has one duly elected president. Anybody serving at his pleasure should do so faithfully," Rubio said in a Twitter posting. "When they feel they no longer can, they should resign & speak in their own name so the country can evaluate their insights with a full understanding of where they are coming from."
On Wednesday evening, before demanding that the Times unmask the writer, Trump tweeted one word: “TREASON?”
"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don’t know what to do," he said in tweet early Thursday. "The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!"
The Times said in a note appended to the op-ed that it knew the author’s identity but that “publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.” The writer indicated that he or she is a political appointee, not a career civil servant -- a class of federal employees that some Trump allies have long derided as a “deep state” set on undermining him.
Late Wednesday night, Trump again took to Twitter to tell his followers, "I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!"
In the op-ed, the writer said that “ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left,” and cited “bright spots” of Trump’s tenure, including deregulation, tax reform and increased military spending.
“But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” the person wrote.
The reaction inside the White House on Wednesday afternoon ranged from shock to disbelief to frustration. The op-ed marked another setback for a West Wing already battered by a litany of recent controversies that have left some aides demoralized. But some also expressed a desire to pull together and counter those who want to exacerbate the sense of mistrust.
The op-ed appeared just a day after excerpts of journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book were published, portraying a West Wing in chaos and quoting senior officials disparaging Trump’s leadership and competence. Woodward’s book followed the funeral of Senator John McCain -- hailed as an American hero and Republican icon -- where the president was unwelcome. Meanwhile, the White House was still reeling from the guilty plea of Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer, and the conviction of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, on Aug. 21.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the author of the op-ed should step down.
“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States,” Sanders said. “He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.”
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.