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Trump officials race to deny they authored ‘resistance’ op-ed

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both denied writing the editorial from “a senior official in the Trump administration” and accuses the president of acting “in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.” | Evan Vucci/AP Photo


Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are publicly denying that they are the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed detailing a “resistance” movement inside the Trump administration, in an extraordinary demonstration of how the editorial has rattled the highest levels of government.

The editorial — which was published on Wednesday from “a senior official in the Trump administration” and accuses the president of acting “in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic” — has kicked off a wild guessing game inside the White House and out about the author’s identity.

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In the hours after the remarkable rebuke of the president by one of his own, parts of the internet, searching for any clues as to who could have written the piece, latched on to the use of one word in particular: lodestar.

Some pointed out that Pence had used the fairly uncommon word in at least two speeches he delivered in 2017. But in a tweet condemning the column as “gutless,” Pence’s office denied that he wrote it, charging that “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”, communications director Jarrod Agen wrote. “Our office is above such amateur acts.”

The New York Times building

Secretary Mike Pompeo, on foreign travel in India, also issued a rebuke of the editorial, criticizing the Times for publishing it to begin with and calling for the official’s resignation.

“If it’s accurate, they should not have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper,” Pompeo said Thursday, adding: “I come from a place where if you’re not in a position to execute the commander’s intent, you have a singular option, that is to leave.”

“It’s not mine,” he said.

Coats on Thursday also denied writing the editorial, calling any speculation that he or his deputy were responsible “patently false.”

“From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire IC remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible,” he said in a statement, referencing the intelligence community.

The intel chief has broken ranks with the president before, especially when it comes to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this summer, his disbelieving response at a cybersecurity forum to learning the president had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington went viral.

The president has ripped into the editorial, slamming it at a White House event with sheriffs on Wednesday shortly after the piece went up, later musing whether the author was actually an administration official and whether the editorial amounted to “treason.”

He demanded that the Times, “for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once.”

The seeming revelation of a group of administration officials working to thwart Trump has fueled conservatives’ “deep state” conspiracy theory, and Trump referred to that theory in a tweet on Wednesday, calling the “Fake News Media” a vehicle of the deep state.

The president’s first campaign manager echoed that call on CNN Wednesday morning. “If there is a movement which this individual claims there is — and I haven’t seen it — that is what the deep state is,” Corey Lewandowski said.

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