WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today took a guess that Vice President Mike Pence authored the anonymous New York Times op-ed against his boss, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he has no intention of deploying Congress to help the White House sniff out the author.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), meanwhile, advised President Trump to start giving lie detector tests throughout the administration.
“Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the author wrote in the Wednesday piece.
The anonymous author said that similar-minded officials within the administration are “trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t,” like making sure a reticent president implemented mandatory sanctions on Russia for an assassination attempt with the Novichok nerve agent on British soil that killed one woman.
“This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state,” the author states. “It’s the work of the steady state.”
The NYT only refers to the writer as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” but a tweet from the NYT referred to the writer as “he.”
“The tweet was drafted by someone who is not aware of the author’s identity, including the gender, so the use of ‘he’ was an error,” Danielle Rhoades Ha said afterward.
Because the op-ed uses the word “lodestar,” speculation turned to Pence as he uses the word often in speeches.
Pence’s deputy chief of staff and communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted Thursday: “The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The (New York Times) should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts.”
Trump is angry about the piece, and one by one today cabinet officials stated on the record, either personally or through spokespeople, that they were not the writer of the op-ed.
Pelosi was asked about the op-ed at her weekly news conference today, and said that “Republicans in Congress have enabled so much of the mayhem that exists in the White House to occur without any comment.”
“The president has to know that when a president speaks, his words weigh a ton. So if some in the White House think correcting this behind the scenes is a consolation, I don’t think it’s good enough,” she said. “The interesting — because I’ve never known the New York Times — perhaps you have — to go without a source. So this is interesting, what the president’s saying is treason is again a manifestation of his instability.”
Pelosi mused about “who wrote it, who has denied it already.”
“The vice president — that was my first thought,” she said. “Then Coats, Pompeo, they denied that they had written it. I guess by process of elimination, it’ll come down to the butler.”
At his own press conference, Ryan acknowledged “there’s a lot of intrigue you all want to ask me about,” but he wanted to focus on the House agenda.
Asked if there was any role for Congress to play in rooting out the op-ed author, Ryan replied, “Not that I know of.”
“A person who works in the administration serves at the pleasure of the president. It’s a person who obviously is living in dishonesty. That doesn’t help the president,” he added. “So if you’re not interested in helping the president, you shouldn’t work for the president, as far as I’m concerned.”
Some Democrats were also upset about the anonymous op-ed. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told CNN this morning that he wasn’t cheering the author “because I’m not sure how it actually solves the problem that this person is identifying.”
“Frankly, if you’re concerned about the stability of the president and the stability of the nation, I’m not sure why you would prick him in the side, make him even more paranoid, and end up perhaps having a purge inside the White House of anyone that he suspects to be connected with mainstream Republican causes,” Murphy said. “This seems more like someone who is trying to protect the job interests of those inside the administration who want to work in Washington after this disaster is over.”
“It’s not terribly surprising,” the senator added. “I mean, we have plenty of other reporting that tells us that this president is paranoid, that he’s unstable, that he has to be managed on a daily basis by his advisors around him. And so I’m not sure that this adds a lot of new information. It probably just makes the situation inside the White House even worse.”