In response to the shocking anonymous op-ed from a senior member of the Trump administration in the New York Times yesterday, the president failed miserably to keep his story straight. Not only that, other media outlets have confirmed the existence of a network of resisters inside the White House.
Given Trump's response and the emergence of other officials who have confessed to the internal resistance, it appears the White House is now collapsing in real time.
Trump botches his response
Was the New York Times piece fake or treasonous? Trump couldn't decide, so he called it both.
The author of the op-ed claimed there was a coordinated, "quiet resistance" to the president within the White House, working to save the country from the whims of an "amoral" madman who was "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective". So Trump decided to respond by, you know, acting like an impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective madman. Telling reporters that it was a "dishonest" and "gutless" piece, Trump botched his story by admitting the piece was true.
Here was the interaction he had with a reporter at a media availability with U.S. sheriffs yesterday:
Here is the transcript:
REPORTER: Mr. President, the anonymous op-ed, sir? Do you have a reaction?
TRUMP: I don't understand.
REPORTER: There's anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that says, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration." Just posted. Your reaction?
TRUMP: Hey, I'll ask the sheriffs: Can you imagine? We have somebody in what I call the "failing New York Times" that's talking about he's part of the resistance within the Trump administration.
REPORTER: This person works for the administration, they said.
TRUMP: This is what we have to deal with. And, you know, the dishonest media -- because you people deal with it as well as I do -- but it's really a disgrace...
So when you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who's failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons. Now -- and the New York Times is failing. If I weren't here, I believe the New York Times probably wouldn't even exist. (Applause.) And some day -- let me just tell you -- and some day, when I'm not President, which hopefully will be in about six and a half years from now, the New York Times and CNN, and all of these phony media outlets, will be out of business, folks. They'll be out of the business. Because there will be nothing to write, and there will be nothing of interest....
So they don't like Donald Trump, and I don't like them, because they're very dishonest people. Remember this also, about the New York Times: When I won, they were forced to apologize to their subscribers. They wrote a letter of apology -- it was the first time anybody has ever done it -- because they covered the election incorrectly. So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial -- can you believe it? "Anonymous" -- meaning gutless. A gutless editorial.
If you read this objectively, you'll notice it makes no sense whatsoever. According to Trump, the New York Times is "failing", "phony", and "dishonest," implying the story is made up to help boost sales. He then goes on to say that it is "gutless" because it is anonymous, implying that the story is real, but the paper is too cowardly to admit who wrote it. Trump then took to Twitter to declare treason:
The piece cannot, of course, be fake and treasonous at the same time. If it is fake, then there is no leaker. If it is "treason," then there is a leaker.
(Furthermore, the New York Times did not ever write "a letter of apology" to Trump after the 2016 election because they covered it "incorrectly" -- he is just making this up for reasons best known to himself.)
The White House is collapsing
All credible reports indicate that in the wake of the Times piece and the excerpts from Bob Woodward's book "Fear" the White House is now in freefall. The Trump administration is cracking, and multiple senior staff members have confessed to other media outlets that the internal resistance really is legitimate. Reported Axios today:
The big picture: He should be paranoid. In the hours after the New York Times published the anonymous Op-Ed from "a senior official in the Trump administration" trashing the president ("I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration"), two senior administration officials reached out to Axios to say the author stole the words right out of their mouths.
"I find the reaction to the NYT op-ed fascinating — that people seem so shocked that there is a resistance from the inside," one senior official said. "A lot of us [were] wishing we’d been the writer, I suspect ... I hope he [Trump] knows — maybe he does? — that there are dozens and dozens of us."
Why it matters: Several senior White House officials have described their roles to us as saving America and the world from this president.
Politico describes a "West Wing meltdown," citing more officials within the White House revealing the chaos of the past few days and declaring it "open season" on the president:
One senior administration official described a White House in “total meltdown” by Wednesday evening, after the president went on television to directly attack the author and the Times, an assessment corroborated in interviews with more than a dozen current and former White House officials and outside advisers....
More than any previous episode, the op-ed seemed to signal a shift from now-routine internal chaos and infighting to a gathering, and sustained, revolt against the commander in chief by those closest to him. One former White House official declared it “open season on the president.”
The Washington Post reported on texts circulating among aides to the president with the phrase "The sleeper cells have awoken," and spoke with a friend of Trump's who says the president now only trusts his children:
“It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” said one former White House official in close contact with former co-workers.
The stark and anonymous warning was a breathtaking event without precedent in modern presidential history....
The president was already feeling especially vulnerable — and a deep “sense of paranoia,” in the words of one confidant — after his devastating portrayal in Woodward’s book. He was upset that so many in his orbit seemed to have spoken with the veteran Washington Post investigative journalist, and he had begun peppering staffers with questions about who Woodward’s sources were.
Trump already felt that he had a dwindling circle of people whom he could trust, a senior administration official said. According to one Trump friend, he fretted after Wednesday’s op-ed that he could trust only his children.
The end is nigh
It is hard to see how Trump fights his way back from this. He must understand intuitively that he has no one in his own administration he can trust and that the writing is on the wall. Those closest to him are now testifying against him in the Mueller probe, and his staff is now openly confessing to actively working to save the country from his insanity. It is an untenable situation that is spiraling out of control rapidly.
Trump is incapable of leading the country or anyone around him, so now it isn't a matter of whether he will quit or not, but when.