Presidential historians say the anonymous Trump White House 'resistance' op-ed is truly unprecedented

Trump makes history with op-ed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It isn't just odd that an anonymous senior Trump administration official wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling President Trump amoral, unfit for office, and worthy of removal from office via the 25th Amendment. It's unprecedented, presidential historians say. "For somebody within the belly of the White House to be saying there are a group of us running a resistance, making sure the president of the United States doesn't do irrational and dangerous things, it is a mind-boggling moment," historian Douglas Brinkley told The Washington Post.

Brinkley said the closest modern precedent was from the final days of Richard Nixon's administration, when he would "bark crazy orders" to aides, and they would ignore them. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss agreed with the Nixon comparison and cited some examples, like Defense Secretary James Schlesinger telling people in the Pentagon to disregard any orders from Nixon to send in tanks or aircraft to keep him in office. But even then, "I've never seen anything like this in modern presidential history," he told NBC News' Chuck Todd. "We have never seen anything remotely like this."

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Brinkley had a less-modern precedent, though. "You'd have to go back to Hans Christian Andersen, 'The Emperor Has No Clothes,' to see this syndrome where the president's reality happens to be so different from his own senior advisers," he told the Post.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.