A Mutiny in Washington

On Wednesday, as you’ve probably heard, The New York Times published an anonymous opinion piece by “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”

The author of this piece, which a Times tweet identifies as a man, claims…

  • …that he is one of many “unsung heroes in and around the White House” who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.”
  • …that the “root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”
  • ...that Trump’s “impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”

  • …that there were “early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president.”

  • ...that he and his comrades “will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

Another senior administration official then told Axios: "…people seem so shocked that there is a resistance from the inside… A lot of us [were] wishing we’d been the writer.... I hope [Trump] knows … that there are dozens and dozens of us."

The debate rages.

Trump defenders: Donald Trump, not anonymous officials, won the election. This essay proves Trump is right to warn of a “deep state,” conspirators within government who are thwarting the will of the people as expressed by the 2016 election result. This is not how democracy should work.

Trump critics: This essay provides a first-person account of the threat President Trump poses to the republic. Yes, he won the election. But the public deserves to know just how dangerous he is.

A “cowardly coup?”: In addition, as David Frum asks in The Atlantic, if the problem identified by the author is that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office, won’t this essay make matters worse? “If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand.”

Other arguments: Should the Times have published this piece? Does the public’s right to hear this person’s voice justify anonymity, an extraordinarily rare privilege? Or should the Times simply have quoted this person as part of a news story rather than giving him this forum while allowing him to keep his anonymity?

My view: This person assures us there are “adults in the room,” that he and his comrades will “steer the administration in the right direction.”

If he wields that sort of power, we deserve to know his name. This is not just one more Republican backing Trump in public while trashing him in private. This man’s desire to keep his job doesn’t outweigh the right of Americans to know who “steers” their government.

Signal reader, what do you think?

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