Another Trump Problem: His Own Appointees
The Trump Administration is no stranger to spectacle, nor to unprecedented events that impact the President or his inner circle. However, Wednesday, Sept. 5, brought exactly that to the White House: an unprecedented spectacle, when a senior official in the Administration wrote an Op-Ed essay anonymously, and the New York Times published it. “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the essay is titled.
What it proclaims is shocking and potentially destructive for Trump on a personal and public level.
According to the essay, “Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them. […] 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. This 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.”
The implications of this are deep. Trump’s manner is “detrimental”, and even his own administration, his own appointees, are apparently trying to play it safe until 2020, coasting until the man will be out of office and everyone can breathe again. According to the essay, the Administration is peppered with a quiet resistance that is thwarting Trump.
In fact, the most scathing part of the essay is pointed at the President’s leadership style, attacking his morality and the actions that carry it out. “The root of the problem,” it says, “is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles.” While the Op-Ed admits that there have been some bright spots during his time in the White House, including historic tax reform and a robust military, “these success have come despite–not because of–his leadership style.”
The reaction was swift. On Thursday, almost the entire cabinet and leadership team stepped forward to deny writing the essay. One by one, individuals such as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Dan Coates, the director of national intelligence, came forth to publicly claim that it wasn’t them.
Others have taken to Twitter to express their displeasure. “You are sabotaging the country,” said Melania Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White Houses’ press secretary, called the writer “an anonymous coward,” suggesting that anyone who wanted to know the identity should call the New York Times.
For now, it is a guessing game. The White House has embarked on a frantic search for the culprit, and Trump questioned whether the senior official who supposedly wrote the Op-Ed piece actually existed. If they are real, he has called for them to be turned over to the government right away, which is exemplary of his complete disregard for the first amendment.
President Trump has been plagued with all sorts of issues from the moment he was elected into office. Now, he faces a different sort of problem: he faces his own appointees, a team that he has reason to suspect is not entirely backing him. No matter who the anonymous writer is, it is public information now that there are some people supposedly behind Trump who are actually not behind him at all. The environment inside the White House can already be intense and toxic, and now things are more corrosive as fingers point and mouths accuse.
Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves isn’t whether the Op-Ed is true, or who exactly wrote it. It may not even matter whether the senior official who purportedly penned it exists in real life.
The real question is, can a President lead solidly and confidently after they find out that there could potentially be a quiet resistance against them, among their own people? If Trump’s leadership competence is already questioned, and he is being accused of amorality, where will things go from here? How does a leader lead, without the support of those he appointed to help?
Can a president be president, with so much against him?
Laura Myers is a lead contributor for The Daily Lead.