On Sept. 5, The New York Times published an Op-Ed article by an anonymous author, who the Times verified as a senior official of the Trump administration and “whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure” in its prelude to the article. In an article titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the author detailed their dislike of President Donald Trump and his lack of “affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives,” despite being elected as a Republican. The author described these ideals as including “free minds, free markets and free people,” where Trump has “at best, invoked these ideals in scripted settings.” The article suggests several people work within the administration who also take part in the “resistance.”
Trump has since responded he desires Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States as of 2017, to investigate the identity of the senior official who submitted the article, since he considers the matter to be of “national security,” as reported by CNN on Sept. 7. Neither the White House nor CNN has identified a specific crime concerning the matter. Trump has yet to make any official claims of legal action against The New York Times, only stating that “we will see” when asked about further action the Justice Department plans to take. Since the department’s foundation under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the department has handled matters relevant to the enforcement of national law. Such enforcement of national law has included documents on the Russia investigation, which were turned over to Congress back in June 2018. Unless a specific crime is identified within the articles, it is unlikely the department will be able to pursue legal action against the press. Trump has claimed that he dislikes the anonymous criticism since he is unable to “fight back” against the article’s author.
While emphasizing the importance of free press, Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States, told the anonymous writer in an interview with CNN that they are “not protecting this country with your actions — you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions.”
Earlier in the interview, she claimed “if a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words.”
Jarrod Agen, Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff, denied author accusations in a tweet stating “our office is above such amateur acts” on Sept. 6. Pence himself, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have also denied writing the piece. As of Sept. 7, Treasury Secretary Steven Mncuchin, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Housing of Urban Development Ben Carson have also made public denials on Twitter about being the author.
Trump has expressed disdain for The New York Times in the past. During the 2016 election season, he claimed in a Twitter post that “the failing @nytimes is so totally wrong in transition.” In March of 2017, he claimed in another Twitter post “the failing @NYTimes would do much better if they were honest!” on both his personal and presidential accounts. On Sept. 5, he questioned whether the anonymous senior official was “another phony source” from “the Failing New York Times.”
Sam Walsh is a third-year student majoring in special education and English with a minor in autism studies. SW850037@wcupa.edu