White House official pens anonymous op-ed; West Wing in turmoil
KEVIN SERAAJ | 9/17/2018, 12:20 a.m.
On Sept. 5, The New York Times took the extremely rare step of publishing an anonymous op-ed from a White House insider claiming to be part of an internal “resistance movement.” The Times disclosed only that the writer is “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”
The article hit a raw nerve inside the White House – although now it is unclear who might be really upset, and who – as the op-ed claims – will be simply throwing off soundbites while they keep their jobs and work toward keeping the nation on track.
One intriguing comment in the article stated, “[W]e 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. That 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.”
What a bombshell.
Trump immediately went on the defensive, but it’s a little like the boy who cried wolf. Most people are tired of his relentless, tiresome and thoughtless rants that are always more self-serving than presidential. This one, despite the fact that he is now admittedly under attack from within, is just more of the same. The clear focus here for most of the nation is not on the president’s predictable disclaimers, but on what the insider is saying about the view senior administration officials have of the man at the helm.
According to the anonymous op-ed writer, administration officials even considered invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump.
One can only imagine the extent of paranoia that is running rampant throughout the West Wing right now. Surely the mystery writer anticipated the resulting witch-hunt. The internecine struggle that is sure to result might very well be kept out of the public view, but now that the existence of dissent has been made public, the cracks in the foundation are known to be real – and they are not going to go away. The actual impact of these revelations on the functioning of the Trump administration will become increasingly obvious, in my opinion, over the next few months. Trust just left the building.
Vanity Fair reporter Gabriel Sherman says Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner immediately pointed to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly – said to have worked through his deputy chief Zachary Fuentes – as the writer of the anonymous op-ed.
Sherman says Ivanka told the president: “[Kelly]’s destroying your presidency.”
Maybe the chickens have finally come home to roost. A great many on-lookers thought Trump was destroying his presidency all by himself.
If Sherman is right, the true impact of the op-ed is already being seen. Speculation will be rife in the days ahead, and finger-pointing will almost certainly escalate, but unless Ivanka – or anyone else with a bone to pick – has real information about the identity of the writer, accusations like hers will only foment distrust, deepen division and help instigate the internal war that will slowly bring the Trump administration to its knees.
Bad news for some. Great news for others.
Kevin Seraaj, J.D., M.Div., is the publisher and CEO of the Orlando Advocate, a cornerstone media group company in Orlando, Florida. He is a member of the NNPA and the vice president of Print Media and membership chair of the Central Florida Association of Black Journalists.