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palace intrigue
September 6, 2018

Loads of Trump administration officials have denied writing an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times that described an internal "resistance" in the White House.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for example, said that it is "laughable" to think he could be the author. Spoken like a possible suspect, right? In light of the White House "witch hunt" to determine who wrote the op-ed, a vintage Wall Street Journal headline resurfaced Thursday as readers remembered a similarly mysterious source: Deep Throat.

"If you drink scotch, smoke, and read, maybe you're 'Deep Throat,'" the Journal wrote. "Almost anyone can qualify as capital tries to guess Watergate story source." Deep Throat was the name of the source who offered key information to journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigated the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat ultimately turned out to be FBI Associate Director Mark Felt — but in June 1974, Felt denied that he was the source.

"Felt says he isn't now, nor has he ever been, Deep Throat," reads the article. "Of course, says the former acting associate director of the FBI, if he really were Deep Throat, you'd hardly expect him to admit it, now would you? Not that he is, Mr. Felt quickly adds."

The article points out that Felt, and others, aren't likely to "just blurt out" that they are responsible for bringing an administration "to its knees." So simply asking officials whether they authored the piece may not lead to the truth — and maybe Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had the right idea in taking more drastic measures. Summer Meza

September 5, 2018

After The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed written by a current "senior official in the Trump administration" on Wednesday, readers rushed to decipher and deduce who the mysterious author might be.

Who would be so bold as to write that they are part of an internal "resistance" working to thwart President Trump's agenda? Could it be White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tired of her relentless public defense of the president? Perhaps her husband, George Conway, a vocal critic of Trump's, wrote the op-ed and "fired it off from Kellyanne's email account," one communications official suggested.

A Twitter poll from Weekly Standard writer John McCormack had several officials in fierce competition — with 173 votes, 25 percent said first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump wrote it, while another 32 percent voted for U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Who would go so far as to call Trump "impetuous, adversarial, petty, and ineffective?" Washington Post reporter Ishaan Tharoor said the "growing consensus" was that National Security Adviser John Bolton penned the piece, which could explain why the Times characterized the author as a "he" and why the op-ed chose to highlight Trump's handling of his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Until Times investigators "unearth the identity of an author [their colleagues] have sworn to protect with anonymity," as reporter Jodi Kantor said, or until the unnamed official resigns and steps forward, read the op-ed for yourself at The New York Times to make your best guess. Summer Meza

April 8, 2018

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly increasingly struggles to wrangle President Trump and has verbally threatened to quit his job, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing accounts from 16 unnamed administration officials.

"I'm out of here, guys," Kelly reportedly said, though the Post's sources differed on whether the remark should be interpreted as "a resignation threat" or an announcement that he was "leaving work an hour or two early to head home." They agreed, however, that Kelly is frustrated with his position and resultant loss of credibility.

A separate story at Axios offered a similar account Saturday, reporting that "Kelly blew up at Trump in an Oval Office meeting" in late March, "and while walking back to his office muttered he was going to quit." Kelly's arrival in the West Wing was greeted as a shift toward order and normalcy, but Trump reportedly ignores his input on many issues.

Trump denied the Washington Post report on Twitter early Sunday, labeling it "just another hit job." Bonnie Kristian

March 10, 2018

The resignation of Hope Hicks leaves President Trump without his longtime confidante and — yet again — without a White House communications director. To fill the latter role, Trump is turning to Hicks herself for advice, Politico reported Friday night.

Hicks is the fourth person to officially serve as communications director in the Trump administration. She was preceded by Jason Miller, Michael Dubke, and Anthony Scaramucci, and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer also twice pulled double duty by working as acting communications director.

Trump favors hiring someone familiar to take Hicks' place, Politico reports. Among the current staff, director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp and assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department Tony Sayegh are seen as possible favorites. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could also shoulder the job.

Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly has other ideas, preferring to hire from outside the White House to move the communications department toward "a more traditional structure" — and perhaps a slower rate of turnover. At present, Trump is on pace to have 11 communications directors in his first four years in office. Bonnie Kristian

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