In the aftermath of an anonymously published New York Times op-ed written by a top Trump administration official bashing the president, senior White House staff members are quickly denying any role in the scathing portrayal.
The op-ed described how members of the administration were working in “resistance” to minimize the damage of Trump’s “instability.” The account details the president’s “petty and ineffective” leadership style and his tendency toward erratic behavior.
“There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first,” the anonymous author wrote. “But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.”
Trump has accused The New York Times of using a “phony source” and questioned the actual existence of the “gutless anonymous person” behind the op-ed. The president went further, tweeting that if the writer did actually exist The Times “must,” for reasons of national security, “turn him/her over to the government at once!”
Mike Pence, Vice President
One of the White House officials to quickly deny writing the op-ed was Vice President Mike Pence. After much speculation on social media that he might be the culprit because the op-ed writer used the word “lodestar,” a word Pence has employed in speeches, Pence’s chief of staff Jarrod Agen was quick to tweet a denial.
“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,” Agen posted on Thursday morning.
Pence told reporters on Thursday that “anyone who would write an anonymous editorial smearing the president, who has provided extraordinary leadership to this country, should not be working in this administration.” He also added that the “honorable” thing for this writer to do would be to resign.
The vice president also said that the American people “see right through all of this” and that they “voted for this president because they wanted to see results.”
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also denied any role in the op-ed while speaking to reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
“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,” Pompeo told reporters. “And this person instead, according to The New York Times, chose not only to stay but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do.”
The secretary of state added that the op-ed was “sad more than anything else.”
Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats denied writing the op-ed in a press release on Thursday.
“Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not,” Coats wrote. “ 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.”
Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security Secretary
Another op-ed denial came from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. A spokesman for Nielsen said that she was “focused on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland—not writing anonymous and false opinion pieces for The New York Times.
The agency’s press secretary added that “these types of political attacks are beneath the Secretary and the Department’s mission.”
Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Ben Carson, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primaries, added his denial, through his spokesperson to The Guardian. Carson currently serves the Trump administration as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations
When asked by reporters if she wrote the anonymous op-ed, Nikki Haley responded “no.” The ambassador the the United Nations was walking into the Security Council chamber on Thursday when she said she did not write the article.
Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary
Tony Sayegh Jr., a spokesperson for the Department of the Treasury, wrote in a tweet on Thursday that Mnuchin is “honored to serve @POTUS & the American people. He feels it was irresponsible for @nytimes to print this anonymous piece. Now, dignified public servants are forced to deny being the source. It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary.”
Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
“No, Dir. Mulvaney is not the author,” a spokesperson for Mulvaney told NBC News.
Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
A spokesperson for Azar told Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian: “No, Secretary Azar did not write the op-ed.”
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
Wilbur Ross tweeted on Thursday afternoon: “I did not write and am thoroughly appalled by this op-ed. I couldn’t be prouder of our work at Commerce and of @POTUS.”
Don McGahn, White House Counsel
McGahn, who is leaving the White House this fall, told reporters “no” when asked if he wrote the New York Times op-ed.
Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education
“Secretary DeVos is not a Washington insider and does not play Washington insider games. She has the courage of her convictions and signs her opinions. She is not the author,” Department of Education spokeswoman Liz Hill said in a statement on Thursday.
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President
“Of course not,” Conway told NBC News when asked if she wrote the op-ed.
Gina Haspel, CIA Director
Haspel’s press secretary Tim Barrett said “no” when asked if the CIA director had written the anonymously published article.
James Mattis, Defense Secretary
“It was not his op-ed,” Dana White, a chief Pentagon spokesperson, said on Thursday.
Alex Acosta, Labor Secretary
A department spokesperson told NBC News that “the Secretary does not play these sophomoric Washington games. He is definitively not the author.”