Trump slams 'staff resistance' article

President lashes out at unnamed official for gutless editorial in New York Times

By Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman in Washington
  • Published 7.09.18
President Trump at the White House. (AFP)

Washington: President Trump sought to assert command of his administration on Wednesday amid reports of a "quiet resistance" among some of his own advisers who have secretly and deliberately tried to thwart from the inside what one official called his "reckless decisions".

The surreal struggle between Trump and at least some members of his own team has characterised his tenure from the beginning, but it spilled into public view this week in a way that raised questions about the President's capacity to govern and the responsibilities and duties of the people who work for him.

An Op-Ed article by an unnamed Trump administration official published by The New York Times on Wednesday claimed that "unsung heroes" on his team were "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations". It came a day after reports about a new book, Fear, by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, revealed efforts by aides to surreptitiously block the President when they believe he may be acting dangerously.

The collective portrayal suggested that Trump may not be fully in charge of his own White House, surrounded by advisers who consider him so volatile that they swipe documents from his desk in hopes of stopping him from issuing rash orders.

While his rivals called such efforts heroic and patriotic, his supporters complained of a virtual coup at odds with the Constitution and the will of the people.

Trump erupted in anger after reading the Op-Ed article and John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, and other aides scurried in and out of the press office trying to figure out how to respond. Advisers told Trump that this was the same as leakers who talk with the news media every day, but a hunt for the author of the offending article was quickly initiated and scrutiny focused on a half-dozen names.

Aides said they assumed it was written by someone who worked in the administration but not the White House itself, although they could not be sure.

Trump angrily lashed out during public events and on Twitter. He assailed what he called the "gutless editorial" by the unnamed official and he dismissed Woodward's book as "a total piece of fiction" and "totally discredited".

He attributed the accounts to a news media that has sought to destroy his presidency.

"They don't like Donald Trump and I don't like them because they're very dishonest people," the President said during a meeting with sheriffs. Trump later posted a message on Twitter that said simply, "TREASON?" and then another saying that "If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"

The unnamed official, whose identity is known to the Times editorial page department but not to the reporters who cover the White House, described the President's leadership as "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" and cited "adults in the room" who strive to prevent disaster.

At one point, the official wrote, there was talk of the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unable to discharge his duties.

New York Times News Service