Before an unidentified senior administration official published a brutal op-ed in The New York Times on Wednesday afternoon claiming to be a member of an internal "resistance" faction saving America from a dangerously erratic and amoral president, President Trump had already ordered "a real witch hunt in the West Wing and throughout his administration, asking loyal aides to help determine who cooperated with" Bob Woodward's new book, Fear, CNN reports. Trump is "directing the response strategy personally," and he wants names of both Woodward collaborators and the Times resistor.
"The hunt for the mole began as soon as The New York Times published" the op-ed, Politico reports. "One senior administration official described a White House in 'total meltdown' by Wednesday evening." Inside the West Wing, "top officials canceled afternoon meetings and huddled behind closed doors to strategize about how to expose the author," White House officials told The Wall Street Journal. "Some officials called reporters to chase down rumors about who was behind the op-ed, and whether it came from inside the White House or a Cabinet-level agency."
The scramble to "unmask the writer," The Associated Press suggested, is "a House of Cards-style plot twist in an already over-the-top administration," and some viewed Trump's "extraordinary" demand that the Times immediately unmask the writer as playing "into the very concerns about the president's impulses raised by the essay's author."
"Aides fear how Trump will react as more embarrassing bits are reported" from Woodward's as-yet-unpublished book, Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair. "More than any previous episode," though, Politico says, the Times "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." At the same time, an outside adviser tells Sherman, "Everybody on the inside knows it's true. It's just Fox News people who don't want to admit how crazy he is." Peter Weber