Multiple top officials in the Trump administration have now denied writing the anonymous opinion piece published in the New York Times that described a "resistance" to Trump's "worst inclinations" by officials within the administration.
The denials started early Thursday morning with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then Vice President Mike Pence (through a spokesperson), and Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, all claiming not to be the writer of the piece.
By Thursday afternoon, denials had also come from the following:
- Jim Mattis, Sec. of Defense
- Jeff Sessions, Attorney General
- Steve Mnuchin, Sec. of the Treasury
- Kirstjen Nielsen, Sec. of Homeland Security
- Ben Carson, Sec. of Housing and Urban Development
- Alexander Acosta, Sec. of Labor
- Alex Azar, Sec. of Health and Human Services
- Paul Nakasone, Dir. of the National Security Agency
- Mick Mulvaney, Dir. of the Office of Management and Budget
- Rick Perry, Sec. of Energy
- Melania Trump, First Lady
- Wilbur Ross, Sec. of Commerce
- Sonny Perdue, Sec. of Agriculture
- Andrew Wheeler, Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Robert Wilkie, Sec. of Veterans of Affairs
- Jon Huntsman, US Ambassador to Russia
- Don McGahn, White House Counsel
- Gina Haspel, Dir. of the Central Intelligence Agency
- Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative
Pompeo, speaking in Delhi, called the piece "sad" and said the New York Times should not "have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive bad actor's word for anything and put it in their newspaper."
Pompeo's comments were followed by a tweet from Vice President Pence's communications director denying that Pence was the author of the piece, saying "The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds." He added that the author should be "ashamed."
Coats put out a statement on behalf of himself and his principal deputy, Sue Gordon, saying that neither of them had written the piece. The statement said they have insisted that the intelligence community "remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible."
The Opinion article published yesterday said that officials inside the Trump administration were working to thwart some elements of President Trump's agenda, and said "I would know. I'm one of them."
"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don’t know what to do," Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday night Trump questioned whether the writer, cited as a "senior administration official" really exists, and said in a tweet that if they did, The New York Times "must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"
Speaking on The Daily podcast, New York Times Opinion Editor James Dao said that he had been introduced to the official by a trusted intermediary, but later had "direct communication" with the author and was "totally confident that this was truly the official in the Trump administration that they claimed they were."
Pence's denial comes after rampant speculation on social media that he could have written — or at least been aware of — the op-ed. The speculation centered on the use of the word "lodestar," which Pence says a lot.
Dao told The Daily that "the 'lodestar' question is fascinating to me."
"It never occurred to me to change a word to help hide this person's identity. That's actually the antithesis of what we do."