Coats, Pence, Pompeo deny authorship of anonymous New York Times op-ed on Trump
WASHINGTON - A spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence strongly denied Thursday that he was the author of a New York Times op-ed penned by someone claiming to be part of a "resistance" effort within the administration, as frenzied speculation continued about who wrote the piece.
"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds," Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen wrote 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."
Speculation about Pence has been rampant on social media because of the op-ed's use of "lodestar," an archaic word that the vice president has used in multiple speeches.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats also denied being the author on Thursday.
While traveling in India, Pompeo told reporters: "It's not mine."
"It is sad that you have someone who would make that choice," Pompeo said. "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 blamed the publication of the op-ed on a media that he said is trying to undermine Trump, a phenomenon he called "incredibly disturbing."
Coats, meanwhile, released a statement that said speculation that the op-ed was written by him or his principal deputy, Susan M. Gordon, is "patently false."
"From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire [intelligence community] remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best possible intelligence."
The op-ed, published online Wednesday afternoon, was written by a senior official in the Trump administration, according to the Times. It blasts Trump as morally unmoored, criticizes his "impetuous" leadership style and depicts a "two-track presidency" in which Trump acts according to his own whims while many of his top aides, in the author's words, work to thwart his "more misguided impulses until he is out of office."
In addition to painting a dire picture of Trump's decision-making process, the op-ed also states that some top administration officials discussed early in Trump's presidency whether to seek to remove him from office via the 25th Amendment.
"Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis," the op-ed says. "So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until - one way or another - it's over."
In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump suggested that the op-ed was born of frustration from his political adversaries because his administration is doing well. Among other things, he cited economic trends and what he expects to be the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to a seat on the Supreme Court.
"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don't know what to do," Trump wrote. "The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!"
Trump's use of the term "Declassification" appeared to be a reference to an ongoing battle between some Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department over disclosing documents related to the start of the Russia investigation. The lawmakers have contended that such documents would show wrongdoing on the part of FBI and Justice Department officials.
On Wednesday, shortly after the op-ed was published, Trump lashed out at its author, calling the piece "gutless" and demanding that the Times turn over the writer "for National Security purposes."
In a tweet Wednesday evening, Trump wrote a single word: "TREASON?"
This article was written by John Wagner, a reporter for The Washington Post. The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.