Trump denounces NYT for 'gutless editorial' by unnamed official describing resistance inside administration

Many senior officials in the Trump administration have been working from within to frustrate parts of the president's agenda to protect the US from his worst inclinations, an anonymous Trump official wrote in a New York Times column on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump turned to Twitter to continue his complaints and posted one message that said simply, "TREASON?"
US President Donald Trump turned to Twitter to continue his complaints and posted one message that said simply, "TREASON?"PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - US President Donald Trump denounced what he called a "gutless editorial" posted by The New York Times on Wednesday (Sept 5), an essay written by an unnamed administration official claiming that advisers to the President were deliberately trying to thwart his "reckless decisions" from the inside.

At an event at the White House, Mr Trump angrily assailed The Times for publishing the op-ed column, the second time in two days that news reports highlighted the way that some members of his team quietly act to undermine the President when they believe he may be acting dangerously.

"We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times talking about he's part of the resistance within the Trump administration," the President said. "This is what we have to deal with."

He went on: "So when you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who's failing, and who's probably here for all the wrong reasons. No. And The New York Times is failing."

He added: "So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial."

Not long afterward, Mr Trump turned to Twitter to continue his complaints and posted one message that said simply, "TREASON?"

The op-ed piece came just a day after reports on the coming book, Fear by Mr Bob Woodward, which depicts a White House often in disarray and filled with advisers struggling to prevent Mr Trump from actions they consider damaging to the country. Among other things, aides sneaked documents off the President's desk to prevent him from signing them, according to the book.

The book and the column collectively raise questions about Mr Trump's ability to govern and the struggle among his staff members between loyalty to the President they serve and a sense among some that they have a higher duty to keep him from going too far at the risk of the country's security and stability.

The author of the piece described being part of "a quiet resistance within the administration", but while the person's identity is known to the editors of the editorial pages, it was withheld because that person's job might be in jeopardy.

 
 

The official described the President's leadership as "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" and cited "unsung heroes" and "adults in the room" who tried to prevent disaster. At one point, the official wrote, there was talk of the Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Mr Trump unable to discharge his duties, but no one wanted a constitutional crisis.

"We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous," the official wrote. "But 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.

"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," he added.

The official's description of Mr Trump's management mirrors Mr Woodward's account as well as reporting by many news organisations and other authors during the last 20 months.

"Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back," the official wrote.

The op-ed pages of The Times are managed separately from the news department. The op-ed editors wrote that they took the rare step of publishing a column without naming the author because of the significance of the subject.

"We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers," they wrote.

Ms Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, issued a written statement criticising the anonymous official.

"The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected president of the United States," she said.

"He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign."

Ms Sanders said the newspaper acted irresponsibly. "We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless and selfish op-ed," she said.

"This is a new low for the so-called paper of record, and it should issue an apology, just as it did after the election for its disastrous coverage of the Trump campaign. This is just another example of the liberal media's concerted effort to discredit the President."

The Times never issued such an apology. The publisher and executive editor sent a letter to subscribers after the November 2016 election acknowledging questions about whether Mr Trump's surprise victory meant that the newspaper and other news outlets underestimated his support.

"As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it," the letter said, "we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism."