By Michael Hernandez
A growing number of senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, denied Thursday authoring an anonymous New York Times op-ed that has provoked their boss’s furor.
Following the Times’ publication of the scathing opinion piece by a senior Trump administration official Wednesday, Pence’s office said “The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds.”
“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,” spokesman Jarrod Agen wrote on Twitter.
The unknown official behind the editorial acknowledges that he or she is part of a group “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” referring to President Donald Trump. The comments appear to corroborate parts of a forthcoming book the administration has sought to dismiss as “fiction,” frustrating its efforts to do so.
“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 official 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.”
The Times kept the official’s identity anonymous but said it knows who he or she is.
Speculation had mounted that the official is Pence due to the author’s use of the word “lodestar,” a term the vice president has used numerous times in the past.
The U.S.’s top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, also denied being behind the story, telling reporters in India, “It’s not mine.”
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that The New York Times, a liberal newspaper that has attacked this administration relentlessly, chose to print such a piece. And if that piece is true, if it’s accurate, if it’s actually – I think they described it as a senior administration official – they should not well have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper,” Pompeo said.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also issued a statement denying responsibility.
Trump fumed Wednesday about the “gutless” story in remarks to reporters before issuing a relatively cryptic tweet in which he asked: “TREASON?”
“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? 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 in another tweet.