WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four top White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, said on Thursday they did not write an anonymous column in the New York Times that described “a quiet resistance” to President Donald Trump within his own administration.
Amid intense speculation over who wrote the piece, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, previously Trump’s CIA director, said he was not the author and slammed the Times for publishing the piece.
“It’s not mine,” Pompeo told reporters on a trip to India, saying the Times should not have “put it in their newspaper.”
The Pentagon said Defense Secretary James Mattis did not write the piece. “It was not his op-ed,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
The Times published the column on Wednesday, saying it was by a senior official in the administration. The paper’s opinion section said it was taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous article because disclosing the author’s identity would jeopardize the person’s job.
The piece, which slammed Trump’s leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” said some senior officials have been working from within to frustrate parts of the president’s agenda and protect the country from his worst impulses.
The article triggered a guessing game in Washington about whether the author worked in the White House or an agency. Some of the language in the article, including the use of the unusual word “lodestar,” was the subject of wide online speculation and language searches.
A spokesman for Pence criticized the Times and said the vice president does not write anonymous opinion columns.
“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,” Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen said on Twitter.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement: “Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is patently false. We did not.”
Trump responded to the piece on Wednesday by calling the anonymous writer “gutless,” suggesting it was treasonous and saying the Times should identify the person to the government, for national security purposes.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders separately called on the individual to resign.
“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.
“I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!” he said earlier on Twitter.
Reporting by Phil Stewart and Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry