The New York Times on Wednesday took the unusual step of publishing an op-ed written by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration claiming to be one of a number of officials working to thwart the president's "worst inclinations."
In the piece, titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," the author said that "many of the senior officials" in Trump's administration "are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."
"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 author said.
The Times identified the author of the piece only as a "senior official in the Trump administration," adding that the paper knows the person's identity but is not revealing it because doing so would jeopardize their job.
"The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure," said an editor's note at the top to the piece.
Responding to the piece Wednesday afternoon, Trump criticized the "failing New York Times" and its "gutless editorial." He added that the source of the piece is likely "failing" at his job, and "probably here for all the wrong reasons."
"Some day when I'm not president, which hopefully will be in about six and a half years from now," Trump continued, "the New York Times and CNN and all of these phony media outlets will be out of business, folks. They'll be out of business because there will be nothing to write and nothing of interest."
Shortly after Trump's comments, the White House issued a statement, describing the Times piece as "a new low for the so-called 'paper of record'" and calling for an apology.
Trump continued his attacks on Twitter, saying that if the author of the piece is real they should be turned over to the government for "national security purposes."
"Nearly 62 million people voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2016, earning him 306 Electoral College votes – versus 232 for his opponent," the White House statement said. "None of them voted for a gutless, anonymous source to the failing New York Times."
Trump, in fact, won 304 Electoral College votes in 2016.
Reached for comment about the piece, a spokesperson for the New York Times referred BuzzFeed News to the editor's note. Dean Baquet, the Times' executive editor of news — which operates separately from the paper's Opinion section — told BuzzFeed News in an email, "I think it was a compelling piece of journalism."
But some reporters inside the Times newsroom expressed concern about the unconventional use of granting anonymity to an opinion writer.
"It’s hard to see how this does anything but add more fuel to Trump’s rage against the Times in particular and the media more broadly, which is already at potentially dangerous levels," one New York Times reporter told BuzzFeed News.
"So basically: Times reporters now must try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity?" tweeted reporter Jodi Kantor. Kantor later told BuzzFeed News she “was just marveling at the head-exploding drama of it all.”
In the piece, the author speaks at length about problems within the administration and states that officials have speculated about removing him from office.
"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," the author wrote. "But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over."
Though the author of the piece did say that there have been "bright spots" such as tax reform, those victories have happened despite Trump's leadership style, "which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective."
The author also claimed that Trump is “not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making,” and that he has little affinity for conservative ideals. Moreover, Trump’s impulses are “generally anti-trade and anti-democratic,” the author states.
The result, the author claimed, has been a “two-track presidency” in which Trump behaves erratically and praises autocrats like Vladimir Putin, while administration staffers engage with allies and call out enemies.
“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author said. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”
The author concluded by stating, "There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first."