Pence, Pompeo each deny authoring anonymous NY Times op-ed trashing Trump
Two top administration officials — Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — denied Thursday that they were behind a damning anonymous opinion article published in The New York Times a day earlier.
Pence's office told NBC News it "definitively denies" that the vice president authored the op-ed article — in which a senior administration official said the cause of the president's problems was his "amorality" and that officials were working to thwart some of his initiative that they believed could put the country at risk.
Pence's communications director also tweeted a denial, along with criticism of The Times' decision to publish an anonymous opinion piece.
"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," wrote Jarrod Agen, who also serves as Pence's deputy chief of staff. "Our office is above such amateur acts."
Online speculation about the author's identity quickly centered on Pence Wednesday night, due to the author's use in the article of the word "lodestar" — a word that Pence has used numerous times in public speeches.
Meanwhile, Pompeo also denied he was behind it.
"It's not mine," Pompeo told reporters in India.
"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the New York Times, a liberal newspaper that has attacked this administration relentlessly, chose to print such a piece and if that piece is true, if it's accurate," Pompeo said. "They should not well have chosen to take a disgruntled deceptive bad actor's word for anything and put it in their newspaper."
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The author of the article, which The Times identified only as a senior official in the Trump administration, wrote that "many of the senior officials in his own administration" are working against Trump from within "to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."
The administration official also confirmed reports that there were once internal Cabinet discussions about removing Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment, but said in The Times that now "we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it's over."
The Times explained in a note to readers why it published an anonymous op-ed article, saying it had "done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure."
On Thursday morning, former CIA Director John Brennan, a regular and fierce critic of Trump, warned that the publication of the op-ed article would add to the president's frustrations and likely create more conflict.
"I do think things will get worse before they get better," he said. "A wounded lion is a very dangerous animal."