Politics

Trump Calls Anonymous Official Who Penned Critical Op-Ed ‘Gutless’

New York Times essay: Senior officials considered 25th Amendment removal of president

President Donald Trump lashed out at a senior administration official who sharply criticized him in an anonymous New York Times op-ed. His top spokeswoman called it a case of the “liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the president.” (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump slammed an anonymous critical New York Times op-ed penned by a senior administration official as “gutless.”

The piece alleges that a cadre of White House aides and senior officials within every federal department and agency are working to stifle Trump’s worst instincts and policy whims. It even alleges there were whispers early in his presidency about invoking the 25th Amendment, under which a vice president and 13 of the 24 Cabinet officials can depose a chief executive, to remove Trump from office.

“Can you believe it, anonymous? That means gutless,” the president said during an event with sheriffs at the White House.

The New York Times is withholding the name of the author to prevent Trump from firing that person. But the president labeled the author someone “probably who’s failing, and probably who’s here for all the wrong reasons.”

[Trump Attacks Bob Woodward, Warns Syria’s Assad]

“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,” the op-ed reads, “I would know. I am one of them.”

Despite objecting to Trump’s bombastic and unorthodox style, the author stated a desire for his “administration to succeed” and expressed agreement with Trump’s self-described accomplishments like the GOP tax overhaul bill and nixing federal regulations.

[Kavanaugh Dodges Question on Pre-Existing Condition Provision]

“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,” the anonymous author wrote. “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.”

What has developed is a “two-track presidency,” with Trump doing and saying one thing and much of his government doing another.

But not to Trump, who, as he often does, ticked off a list of things he says his administration has done better and faster than any of its predecessors.

“No one,” he declared, “is going to come close to beating me in 2020.”

Shortly after Trump spoke, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement via twitter also slamming the op-ed.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed. This is a new low for the so-called ‘paper of record,’ and it should issue an apology,” she wrote. “This is just another example of the liberal media’s concerted effort to discredit the president.”

The author included the word “lodestar,” setting social media ablaze because Vice President Mike Pence has used the word in multiple speeches.

Fourteen minutes after the White House signaled the president’s official day was mostly over by dismissing the day’s press pool, he appeared still fired up about the op-ed when he fired off this tweet: “TREASON?”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.