Anonymous Op-Ed Sets off Furious Guessing Game

The Story:

One of the latest uproars in social media involves the question, “who wrote the op ed?” — meaning, of course, the anonymous op ed piece in The New York Times on Thursday, September 6 that describes a “quiet resistance” to President Donald Trump within his own administration.

The Suspects: 

Intense speculation has focused on Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Times has described the author as “a senior official whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” If one accepts that language as factual, then one has to rule out Vice President Pence. The language suggests someone whom  Trump could fire. Mike Pence is a constitutional official himself, not an appointee.

The Thing to Know:

Regardless of who specifically wrote it, such a document from any such senior official is an extraordinary one, asserting that the president is amoral, and defining his amorality as the absence in him of “any discernible first principles that guide … decision making.” Its impact if any on the upcoming midterm elections is unpredictable.

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