A parade of senior administration tripped over one another Thursday to stay in President Trump’s good graces, offering one statement after another asserting that they were not the anonymous author of an explosive op-ed criticizing him as impetuous and impulsive.
Amid frenzied speculation about who was hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, Vice President Pence was the first to assert that he had not penned the New York Times piece claiming to be part of a “resistance” within the Trump administration.
More than a dozen Cabinet officials followed suit, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — as well as many others whom no one would have expected.
While some officials offered taut one-word denials through a spokesperson, others used the occasion to stroke the president, voicing objections to his characterization in the Times piece as morally unmoored and often out of sync with his staff.
Several of the statements echoed one another, using the words “gutless” and “coward” to describe the anonymous author.
By midday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had taken to Twitter, chiding the media for what she called a “wild obsession” and urging citizens to call the Times opinion desk if they wanted to learn the identify of a “gutless loser.”