First Lady Melania Trump released a statement about the anonymous New York Times op-ed piece in which she accused the unidentified writer of being “cowardly” and “sabotaging” the country.
The office of Mike Pence – speaking through a spokesman – and Mike Pompeo earlier denied that Pence or Pompeo authored the anonymous op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, criticizing President Donald Trump.
You can read the First Lady’s full statement here:
In the statement, she also defends free speech but says the anonymous writer should “stand by their words,” adding that “people have the right to be able to defend themselves.” Melania concluded by saying, “To the writer of the oped, you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions.”
Since it was released, the op-ed has sparked a parlor guessing game about its author’s identity that perhaps hasn’t been seen in Washington D.C. since Joe Klein wrote Primary Colors. Since the New York Times op-ed appeared, Pence, in particular, has been a favorite possibility of many online because both he and the anonymous writer have used the unusual word “lodestar” in the past. Some people online also made jokes about or theorized about whether Melania Trump herself could possibly be the anonymous writer, although there is no evidence of that.
The article had referred to the anonymous author as only a senior administration official. It’s not clear whether the writer holds a cabinet-level position.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pence’s Spokesman Earlier Called the Op-Ed Writer a ‘Gutless’ Person
Melania was not the only person close to President Trump to release a statement on the op-ed. The vice president did so too.
On the morning of September 6, 2018, with speculation about Mike Pence still swirling, his spokesman took to Twitter to issue a denial, although it never directly says “he didn’t write it.”
“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,” wrote Jarrod Agen, spokesman for Mike Pence.
Pompeo Criticized The New York Times for Publishing the Anonymous Op-Ed
Mike Pompeo, speaking from Delhi, addressed the matter directly. According to Buzzfeed, Pompeo said the anonymous op-ed was “sad” and said The New York Times should not “have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper.”
Buzzfeed News reported that Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, had denied writing the piece.
President Trump Has Decried the Op-Ed as Treason
Trump has been very upset and vocal about the article.
The anonymous op-ed basically painted Trump as an unhinged president whose will is being subverted by top administration officials in order to protect the country from his worst instincts and some of his policy moves. That led the president to declare the op-ed amounted to treason.
He also attributed the op-ed to the “deep state,” writing on Twitter, “The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”
Other possibilities for the op-ed author in the political guessing game include everyone from James Mattis to John Kelly and even Ivanka or Melania Trump. However, other people speculate that the actual name of the person who wrote the op-ed might prove to be less known and less interesting if it ever comes out. The op-ed writer also expresses positive feelings about conservative views and John McCain.
You can read the op-ed here. It declares that the author is part of the “resistance” inside the Trump administration. The New York Times took the unusual step of running the piece anonymously, although editorial board honchos say they know who the person is (a name they’ve kept from the news side from the Times’ operation.)
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