This topic was automatically closed 15 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.
Anonymous author of Trump ‘resistance’ op-ed to publish a tell-all book
The author of an anonymous column in the New York Times in 2018, who was identified as a senior Trump administration official acting as part of the “resistance” inside the government, has written a tell-all book to be published next month.
The book, titled, “A WARNING,” is being promoted as “an unprecedented behind-the-scenes portrait of the Trump presidency” that expands upon the Times column, which ricocheted around the world and stoked the president’s rage because of its devastating portrayal of Trump in office.
The column described Trump’s leadership style as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” and noted that “his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”
The author of the column, which was titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” and was published Sept. 5, 2018, was known to the Times but identified by the Times only as a senior official in the Trump administration. The person has not been publicly identified.
Trump lashed out at the anonymous author after the column’s publication. The president questioned both whether the author existed and whether the author had committed treason. He also demanded on Twitter that the Times turn over “the GUTLESS anonymous person” to the government “at once.” The Times did not.
The forthcoming book will list the author as “Anonymous.” Although the person does not reveal their identity in the book, they will discuss the reasons for their anonymity, according to people involved in the project.
“Picking up from where those first words of warning left off, this explosive book offers a shocking, firsthand account of President Trump and his record,” reads a statement about the book’s release.
The book will be published on Nov. 19 by Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group. It comes at a treacherous period for Trump, as the House continues its fast-moving impeachment inquiry into the president’s alleged abuse of power.
The author is being represented by Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin, the same literary agents who represented fired FBI director James B. Comey and former White House aide Cliff Sims for their memoirs from their time in the Trump administration. The book was acquired by Sean Desmond, Twelve’s publisher.
A post was merged into an existing topic: Impeachment Inquiry into Trump 2019
More intrigue coming out because of the upcoming book release on “A Warning.”
As Government Officials Testify Against Trump, Critics Question Why an Author Stays Anonymous
The official whose critical article will now be a book knows how the president “likes to distract attention from a message,” says the author’s a
A senior Trump administration official published an opinion piece last year under the name “Anonymous” in The New York Times.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times
- Nov. 1, 2019
WASHINGTON — William B. Taylor, Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, had just testified in front of impeachment investigators when a more secretive figure in the Trump universe resurfaced.
On the same day that Mr. Taylor provided the most explicit account to date of Mr. Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to publicize an investigation of his political rivals, a publisher announced that the anonymous author of an Op-Ed published last year in The New York Times describing an active resistance to Mr. Trump’s agenda inside his own administration had written a tell-all book.
Administration officials like Mr. Taylor were going on the record and risking the wrath of a vengeful president, and running up large legal bills, to issue a warning about the state of the nation. And so some of Mr. Trump’s critics questioned why this particular “senior administration official” was only able to share his or her stories under the unsatisfying banner of “anonymous.”
“We’re way past the point of being coy,” said Joe Klein, who himself wrote an anonymous novel, “Primary Colors,” inspired by President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. “You have decorated military officers getting death threats.”
“We need to stand up and be counted,” he said. “This is probably not the time for anonymity.”
The White House was quick to use the same rationale to dismiss the writer, whose book, titled “A Warning,” is due out Nov. 19. “It takes a lot of conviction and bravery to write a whole book anonymously,” said the press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.
But in interviews this week, the book’s editor and agent defended the use of anonymity, arguing it was the best means for the author to achieve his or her ambition: persuading Mr. Trump’s supporters to desert him in the 2020 election.
**The author’s goal is to try to reach that small but electorally significant percentage of Trump voters who might be persuaded not to support him again,**said Matt Latimer of Javelin, the writer’s agent. “This author knows the president, and knows how he likes to distract attention from a message by targeting and raising questions and conspiracy theories about the messenger.”
Mr. Latimer and his partner, Keith Urbahn, did not know who wrote the Op-Ed describing the “adults in the room” who were “trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.” But they contacted everyone they knew in the administration and on Capitol Hill, trying to find the author.
The author wanted to stay anonymous, but was willing to go forward realizing being publicly outed was a risk.
“Our author is mindful that foreign intelligence agencies want to uncover their identity,” Mr. Urbahn said. “What better way for a foreign leader to curry favor than to offer up that long-elusive name in an Oval Office visit?”
“I’m very comfortable telling you that this person is a serious person and a good example of one of the adults in the room,” Mr. Desmond said in an interview. “If Anonymous were to be revealed or come out —- not that there’s a plan to do so — I have no worries whatsoever. I’m very proud to be publishing this person.”
Justice Dept. Asks for Identifying Details on Anonymous Op-Ed Author
The Justice Department is trying to unearth the identity of the Trump administration official who denounced the president in a New York Times Op-Ed last year under the byline Anonymous, according to a letter from a senior law enforcement official on Monday.
In the letter, Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt asked the publisher of a forthcoming book by the writer and the author’s book agents for proof that the official never signed a nondisclosure agreement and had no access to classified information or, absent that, for information about where the person worked in the government, and when.
“If the author is, in fact, a current or former ‘senior official’ in the Trump administration, publication of the book may violate that official’s legal obligations under one or more nondisclosure agreements,” Mr. Hunt wrote to Carol Ross of the Hachette Book Group, which is publishing Anonymous’s book, as well as to Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn, the agents for the former self-described senior official.
Mr. Trump, people close to him said, has long been troubled by the existence of Anonymous, whose Op-Ed condemned him as essentially unfit for office and described a “resistance” within the administration trying to keep the government on course, identifying as part of that group. Mr. Trump said last year that he wanted the Justice Department to investigate the essay, declaring its writing an act of treason. Prosecutors said at the time that such an inquiry would be inappropriate because it was likely that no laws were broken.
Exclusive: Book Claims Senior Officials Believed Pence Would Support Use Of 25th Amendment
The much-anticipated book “A Warning,” reportedly written by an unnamed senior White House official, claims that high-level White House aides were certain that Vice President Mike Pence would support the use of the 25th Amendment to have President Donald Trump removed from office because of mental incapacity.
According to the exposé, which is written by someone that The New York Times and the publisher of the book say is a current or former senior White House official, using the pen name “Anonymous,” highly placed White House officials did a back-of-the-envelope tally of which Cabinet members would be prepared to sign a letter invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that if the president is deemed unfit to discharge the duties of his office, the vice president would assume the role.
That letter would need to be signed by a majority of the Cabinet, delivered to Pence for his signature and then submitted to Congress.
While discussions of invoking the 25th Amendment were never formalized, the idea that the vice president could go along with a Cabinet-backed plan to remove the president was certain to raise the ire of Trump, who is intolerant of dissent or any hint of disloyalty.
Passages from “A Warning,” set to be published Nov. 19, were provided to HuffPost by a source who did so only on the condition that their anonymity be protected and that the passages from the book would not be quoted from directly.
HuffPost has not confirmed Pence’s position on the invocation of the 25th Amendment but is publishing details from “A Warning” because the book is highly newsworthy and the Department of Justice has gone so far as to warn the author that he or she may be subject to nondisclosure agreements as part of their work as an employee of the executive branch.
Book by ‘Anonymous’ describes Trump as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation
There’s a lot to unpack in this article, I recommend reading the whole thing. For those who are just curious about the contents of book read the passage below.
The book contains a handful of startling assertions that are not backed up with evidence, such as a claim that if a majority of the Cabinet were prepared to remove Trump from office under the 25th Amendment, Vice President Pence would have been supportive.
Pence denied this on Thursday, calling the book “appalling” and telling reporters, “I never heard anything in my time as vice president about the 25th Amendment. And why would I?”
One theme laced throughout the book is Trump’s indifference to the boundaries of the law. The author writes that Trump considered presidential pardons as “unlimited ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards on a Monopoly board,” referring to news reports that he had offered pardons to aides.
As he ranted about federal courts ruling against some of his policies, including the 2017 travel ban, the author writes, Trump once asked White House lawyers to draft a bill to send to Congress reducing the number of federal judges.
“Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the [expletive] judges,” the president said, according to the book. “There shouldn’t be any at all, really.”
The author portrays Trump as fearful of coups against him and suspicious of note-takers on his staff. According to the book, the president shouted at an aide who was scribbling in a notebook during a meeting, “What the [expletive] are you doing?” He added, “Are you [expletive] taking notes?” The aide apologized and closed the notebook.
The author also ruminates about Trump’s fitness for office, describing him as reckless and without full control of his faculties.
“I am not qualified to diagnose the president’s mental acuity,” the author writes. “All I can tell you is that normal people who spend any time with Donald Trump are uncomfortable by what they witness. He stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity. Those who would claim otherwise are lying to themselves or to the country.”
More speculation on who the Anonymous writer may be. The book A Warning covers a lot of meetings and situations…Here’s Vanity Fair’s take on it.
My guess is John Kelly. There may be some John McCain ‘maverick’ in him to do this…and Kelly as a gatekeeper was well documented to T’s disgust.
In a way, the guessing game is more fun. (Depending on the impressiveness of the author’s true identity, it could also be better for sales.) Perhaps the most obvious question is whether the author is still in the White House orbit. The jacket describes them as “A Senior Trump Administration Official.” Some reporters, however, are skeptical that they still work for the administration. At the very least, it now seems clear that the author is someone who has had significant face time with Trump, but lots of people have. Beyond that, we really don’t know anything more about the author than we did a year ago.
All sorts of theories have been tossed around, both publicly and in private conversations among Beltway insiders: It’s Mike Pence. It’s Kellyanne Conway. It’s Nikki Haley. It’s Jon Huntsman. A number of under-the-radar suspects have been suggested as well. As my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported last year, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are said to have theorized that the op-ed was written by John Kelly ’s deputy chief of staff, Zachary Fuentes. Others have floated names like Dan Coats, Jon Lerner, and Nick Ayers.
One of the most plausible theories may be the least satisfying of all—that Anonymous is an Alexander Vindman type, “a CIA analyst or National Security Council official who no one’s ever heard of,” but who nonetheless has legit proximity and credentials, said one of my White House correspondent sources. “In that case, it could be someone great…. Reporters who are actually well-sourced probably have the same view as me. I haven’t heard a serious reporter who thinks it’s a really high-profile member of the Trump administration.”
Anonymous has agreed to give a media interview as part of the book rollout, and the Javelin guys and the publisher are in the process of figuring out who the lucky news organization will be among the dozens worldwide that put in requests. The major networks have offered to film the author in shadow with his or her voice disguised, but a more likely option might be to go with a major newspaper, perhaps in collaboration with a broadcast outlet that would get an early look for its viewers. There’s already Hollywood interest too—Javelin and the publisher have received queries from various talent agents and producers over the past couple of weeks.
For journalists, all of that makes the case for scooping the author’s identity even more compelling. “They’re doing an interview and putting themselves out there, and given what we’re seeing on the Hill with people putting their names to testimony, I don’t think you could make some case that you’re endangering them,” said one of the White House correspondents I spoke with. “I’d report it in a heartbeat.”
Still wondering…who it might be?
Nick Ayers (Worked for Pence, and he refused the Chief of Staff job for T)
In the initial anonymous op-ed there are quite a few clues as to what type of person in the Trump White House wrote it.
The piece emphasizes that the author believes strongly in traditional Republican principles like “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military, and more.” Those are the parts of the Trump administration that are championed. In contrast, the author denounces Trump’s “amorality.”
The content of the Times op-ed has been thoroughly dissected and could point to a number of Republicans under Trump. Blind guesses from Times staffers (who didn’t actually have any identifying information besides their own intuition) at the time included Vice President Mike Pence, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn, and then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Of course, the two latter guesses are no longer at the White House, and Pence added his name, along with all of his staffers, to the list of official denials.
But what’s clear from the content of the op-ed is that whoever wrote it stands for the traditional Republican values iterated by the party’s top politicians in years past, which the author no longer believes stems from the Oval Office.
The author also name drops John McCain in the op-ed, and quotes Teddy Roosevelt and Cicero in “A Warning.”
In line with what the author touted as the accomplishments of Trump’s administration so far, the anonymous senior official also uses references that reflect someone who was a huge fan of Republican politicians prior to the Trump era, and is also someone who enjoys history and classics.
In the op-ed the author ends with a reference to Senator John McCain’s farewell letter, so McCain is clearly someone the author admires greatly.
“All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation,” the op-ed reads.
They also note their disagreement with Trump’s favor toward “autocrats and dictators” like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In “A Warning,” according to the review of the book by the Times, the author references quotes from historical and literary figures like Teddy Roosevelt and Cicero, the Roman statesman. They describe themself as a “student of history.”
And there’s another key mention of McCain in “A Warning” – the author says one of the last straws for their willingness to give Trump a chance was when he tried to raise the flag above half mast following McCain’s death.
Some of the vocabulary used in the author’s writing has given people an idea of who they may be.
Right after the op-ed’s publication in September 2018, a prominent theory of its authorship was that Vice President Mike Pence wrote it. Not only would Pence be one of the most dramatic reveals, but there was a word used in the op-ed that rang some alarms.
“Lodestar” was used at the end of the op-ed and made some sleuths think it had to be Pence, who has a history of using the clunky vocabulary term.
This may have been short-sighted, Vox wrote, because a lot of people use the word “lodestar.” Also, it’s possible that whoever wrote the op-ed specifically threw in vocabulary meant to cast suspicion elsewhere, to avoid being fired from their position in the White House.
Pence, for his part, has denied authorship, along with the author being anyone who works with him.
Omarosa Newman, Trump’s former confidante and White House adviser, hinted at the op-ed author’s identity in a Twitter poll.
In a Twitter poll, the former Trump adviser included four White House staffers who she said she believed were likely candidates for the piece’s authorship.
—Omarosa (@OMAROSA) September 7, 2018
Newman noted that her best guess would be the person “who is looking to exit the WH soon.” She also later said that the author had been quietly removed from the White House, but they still say they’re working there, so Newman’s poll isn’t necessarily reliable.
The list included Andrew Bremberg, the director of the Domestic Policy Council who was recently confirmed as US ambassador to the Office of the United Nations, and Nick Ayers, though he left the White House in January after serving as Pence’s Chief of Staff.
John DeStefano was also on the list, but the long-serving Trump aide left the White House in May 2019 to advise Juul in its dealing with the Food and Drug Administration. There was also Bill Stepien, who is still currently the White House political director, but multiple people told Politico that Stepien was loyal to Trump as of late 2017.
One line of sleuthing apart from Newman’s poll also pointed to Bremberg.
Bremberg doesn’t generate a lot of press for himself, but he has deep roots in the traditional Republican party, having worked for former President George W. Bush’s administration and under Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
As one of the Twitter users behind the blog “Our Bad Media” (which has exposed plagiarism by Fareed Zakaria and Malcolm Gladwell), @blippoblappo, explained on Twitter, Bremberg’s role as head of the Domestic Policy Council focuses largely on deregulation, the first thing that was emphasized as a success under Trump in the op-ed.
The Hill profiled Bremberg in February 2017 and described him as Trump’s “details guy.” It’s the most comprehensive media attention paid to Bremberg thus far. He isn’t a very buzzy figure in the Trump administration, and his Google search results and social media mentions are significantly less dense than the oft-suggested candidates for the anonymous authorship.
“Some White House aides know little about Bremberg,” The Hill reported. But behind the scenes, he wrote a harsh memorandum on immigration – the type of traditional Republican policy heralded by the op-ed writer.
The Hill also wrote that those who know Bremberg were “encouraged” by his presence in the administration to defend the party.
“'It was encouraging to a lot of people who were a little nervous about Trump,” one source told the Hill, adding that they thought he could “preserve the peace in the party.”
'They knew the traditional principles would be preserved," the source told the outlet.
The lack of mainstream attention could put Bremberg in a good position to keep publishing material about the “resistance” from within because the work itself is what’s getting the headlines and buzz, not him.
Of course, all of these reported suspicions are unconfirmed. But as Republicans slip out of the White House one by one, there aren’t too many staunch traditionalists left behind in Trump’s White House who ring the anonymous author alarm.
Note: Andrew Bremberg is now appointed as US Ambassador in Geneva, a move that would get him out of the WH. (as of Oct 2019)
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed anti-choice advocate Andrew Bremberg to serve as U.S. ambassador in Geneva.
And a poll by Omarosa
Or there’s this take on it…From The Washingtonian
Last month, 500,000 copies of A Warning —also known as the “Anonymous” book—landed on shelves. In a reprise of the incendiary 2018 New York Times op-ed that described an internal White House resistance against Trump, the book doubles down on its assertions, arguing that Trump is an uncontrollable threat while urging Trump voters to throw him out of office.
Unfortunately for Anonymous , reviews for A Warning have been mixed. Nevertheless, the book’s arrival has occasioned a new Washington parlor game: Who wrote it? And why?
The speculation has been varied, but with little to show. Some have read the text closely to discern writing patterns. Others homed in on the book’s dedication, which is penned to the author’s children. On Fox, Trump loyalist Katrina Pierson speculated that the author was an advisor close to Trump (a bold surmise, if only one ignores the book jacket that describes Anonymous as a “senior administration official”). Meanwhile, Anonymous apparently feels at ease enough to have held a live Internet chat last week on Reddit.
Who is well-placed, well-hidden, and bold enough to pull this off? We have no idea! But neither does anyone else among the chattering class. So, we figured, why not engage in the same amateur plumbing? What follows is our (highly uncorroborated) list of suspects based on seniority status, employment timing and key book details. The result is some familiar faces, as well as lesser-considered possibilities of Anonymous’ identity.
There are 1.2 million civilians in the executive branch. Though the person is a “senior” official in the administration, the Times and Hachette have been coy about what “senior” means, or whether the official still serves in the administration. Even if Anonymous worked inside the Trump White House, that would make the author one of more than 1,200 employees. As a senior official put it to Axios: “There are dozens and dozens of us.”
Luckily, the content of the the book fills in some useful blanks. Based on these tells, the author would likely have some or all of the following nine factors:
- The McCain Factor . Anonymous has great affinity for John McCain , writing that it was events surrounding the death of the late senator that prompted him to act out.
- The Cohn Factor. Anonymous excoriates Trump’s trade wars while praising tax reform and deregulation, putting the author in line with the establishmentarian economic views of Gary Cohn , Trump’s first director of the National Economic Council.
- The Foreign Policy Factor. Anonymous despairs over Trump’s treatment of foreign allies, particularly his unbending admiration for Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un .
- The Press Factor. The author also singled out Trump’s attacks on the press and plans to donate some of the book’s proceeds to the White House Correspondent’s Association.
- The West Wing Factor . Excerpts describe several insider accounts of sensitive West Wing meetings, which has led some observers to speculate that the official was regularly present on the White House complex.
- The Convenient Timing Factor. Several chronological clues are sprinkled throughout the book. Anonymous indicates they’ve been in the administration since its earliest days. The author also describes a White House staff meeting in which then-staffer Bill Shine boasted that he had just blocked CNN’s Jim Acosta from entering the White House grounds; that episode likely would have taken place November 7, 2018. Anonymous also speaks confidently about things that have changed in the administration since the initial op-ed was published, suggesting they remained in their position into 2019. It’s believed that Anonymous had submitted the book manuscript by this past summer.
- The Ethics Factor . Interestingly, Anonymous writes with unfeigned concern about White House efforts to block congressional oversight, and laments a bygone era in which “great deference was given to ethics officials.”
- The Scholar Factor . Anonymous fancies himself a “student of history,” quoting Jefferson, Madison, and Cicero’s De Officiis at length.
- The Suspicion Factor. Several White House officials have been publicly named as suspected leakers or the author of the Anonymous OpEd.
The candidates (in alphabetical order):
Alexander Angelson. A deputy who came to the White House from the RNC, where he worked under Reince Priebus, Angelson was Special Assistant to the president.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing. Worked in the Office of Legislative Affairs and left the White House late this year.
- Cohn Factor. Part of the team that liaised with Capitol Hill to pass Republicans’ tax cuts in 2017.
- Keep Dreaming: Angelson is only in his late twenties, and doesn’t check off any other motivating factors.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing. Joined the administration in the spring of 2018 and departed just before the announcement of the book.
- McCain Factor. Bolton was allies with McCain, even traveling to Arizona to campaign for the senator multiple times . “John McCain came to my defense in 2005 when my nomination to be U.N. ambassador was under criticism,” he said, adding, “I’ll be grateful forever…”
- Foreign Policy Factor . Bolton’s establishment credentials would have put him squarely at odds with Trump’s admiration for strongmen—a track record of tough talk on Russia so expansive he has criticized the Bush administration in the past.
- Scholar Factor. No doubt Bolton would view himself as “a student of history.” Like Anonymous, in several settings he has also quoted Theodore Roosevelt.
- Keep Dreaming: Bolton hardly has an affinity for the press. The biggest problem: Bolton wasn’t part of the transition team.
Brian Blase. A high-ranking economic advisor, Blase was instrumental in crafting the administration’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
- Convenient Timing. Blase worked in the White House from its first months, stayed through 2018 and left this past summer to start a consulting firm.
- The Cohn Factor / West Wing. Served under Cohn and then Larry Kudlow on the National Economic Council.
- The Press Factor. Wrote extensively for Forbes and National Review .
- Keep Dreaming : Blase has never had a finger pointed at him publicly. And it’s unlikely he’d have much affinity for John McCain, who single-thumbedly torpedoed Blase’s signature efforts to repeal Obamacare.
Virginia Boney. A special assistant to the president and Senate liaison, Boney came to the White House from Lindsey Graham’s office, where she was a longtime senior aide. She was briefly the subject of ire in the pro-Trump Twitter-sphere, where right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich claimed White House staffers suspected Boney as a leaker, though not in connection to Anonymous.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing. Boney has remained in the White House since its earliest days.
- McCain / Press / Suspicion Factors. According to Cernovich’s uncorroborated account, Boney was reportedly close with McCain—acquired gossip that should be treated with a considerable grain of salt. (Axios once considered whether Cernovich had “inside access” to White House sources, but went no further—and Cernovich’s post helped get him banned from Medium.)
- Keep Dreaming : Could someone still working in the West Wing—having been accused of leaks before—get away with clandestine publisher meetings and secret book manuscripts?
Andrew Bremberg. Now a permanent representative to the UN, Bremberg came to the White House after serving Mitch McConnell and Scott Walker. Both Omarosa Manigault-Newman and Paul Blest have speculated that Bremberg could be Anonymous.
- West Wing. Bremberg was Trump’s first director of the Domestic Policy Council, where his government pay scale reflected the highest seniority level.
- Cohn Factor. Bremberg was among a small group that waged war on Obama-era regulations.
- Convenient Timing. Three weeks after the OpEd, Bremberg was nominated to be permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, officially reporting there November 12, a few days after the Shine meeting described by Anonymous.
- Keep Dreaming: A post in Geneva doesn’t afford much of an inside look into the White House in the past year.
Johnny DeStefano. A former senior counselor to Trump, DeStefano is another occasionally named suspect—he appeared on speculative lists by Omarosa and the Daily Caller.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . DeStefano’s work in the White House encompassed a broad purview—the offices of Presidential Personnel, Political Affairs, Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. His appointment lasted from the inauguration until May of this year, approximately the time Anonymous could have begun working on a manuscript.
- Keep Dreaming: He has a reputation as Johnny “No Drama” and as a rising star in the Republican Party—and thus a lot to lose if, as Anonymous suggests, one day their identity will be revealed.
Jon Huntsman. The former ambassador to Russia, Huntsman is a favorite suspect often put forward by more liberal prognosticators—floated by Slate’s Will Saletan and deemed plausible by Politico’s Jack Shafer .
- Convenient Timing. Huntsman became ambassador to Russia in October 2017, serving two years before retiring last month to run for Governor of Utah.
- Keep Dreaming: Huntsman vociferously denied the charge. And because he’s not in the White House, the up-close details in A Warning would have to be relayed second-hand.
Shahira Knight . Initially an advisor to Trump on economic policy, Knight later oversaw the Office of Legislative Affairs.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . Knight worked in the White House from the inauguration to May of 2019.
- Cohn factor. Knight served on the National Economic Council under Cohn, and worked on the tax cut package passed by Congress. According to the Times, Republicans on the Hill fretted that Knight would “steer the president toward a more moderate agenda on a range of domestic issues”—approximately what Anonymous boasts of doing.
- Keep Dreaming : Knight’s is not a name you’ll find often in speculation about the author.
Don McGahn . The former White House Counsel was at the center of almost every Trump legal controversy through the first half of the administration—and the center of a few Anonymous guesses, including from New York Times employees and CNN’s Cillizza.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . Present from inauguration to October 2018, McGahn resigned weeks after the op-ed was published.
- Ethics factor. McGahn was captured in the Mueller Report rebuffing Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice on several occasions.
- Keep Dreaming: McGahn’s complete absence from the White House since 2018 makes it unlikely he had such a direct view into events in the year since the memo was written—including Anonymous’ complaints that Democratic oversight efforts are now routinely routed to lawyers.
Bill McGinley. A dark horse candidate, McGinley was the White House Cabinet Secretary and assistant to the president.
- West Wing. McGinley coordinated information and policy between the cabinet agencies, potentially putting him in a wide range of meetings. He is often referred to as a “senior administration official.”
- Convenient Timing . Worked in the White House since 2017 and departed this summer, then joined a lobbying firm in October.
- Ethics factor . At the NRSC, specialized in managing ethics complaints against members of Congress.
- X-factor. McGinley’s role as the Cabinet coordinator could give him a panoptic view of the executive branch, underscoring Anonymous’ written anecdotes involving officials from the State, Treasury and Commerce, as well as several accounts of cabinet meetings.
- Keep dreaming: McGinley has been with Team Trump since April 2016, when he was hired as a campaign advisor. His tenure from the White House received plaudits from Mick Mulvaney, Elaine Chao and others.
Joyce Meyer. Former Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . Joined the administration in its first month and departed in October 2018 for the private sector.
- X-factor . A top deputy to Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney before that, Meyer has sterling establishment credentials.
- Keep dreaming: Liaising with Congress might not give as much visibility into national security and foreign policy as Anonymous conveys, and departing in 2018 might be too soon to make pronouncements about the year since.
John Moran. Former associate counsel and DOJ senior official.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . Worked in the White House from the inauguration until October 2019, when he moved to the Department of Justice.
- Scholar factor . Studied classics at UVA before clerking for Antonin Scalia. Cicero quotes anyone?
- Keep dreaming : An associate counsel may not qualify as “senior official,” and it’s not clear how much Russia or economic policy would connect with Anonymous’ experience in the counsel’s office.
- Convenient Timing . Nielsen was an administration official since the inauguration until earlier this spring, when she resigned as DHS Secretary.
- X-factor : Tormented by Trump and already on a media rehabilitation tour, Nielsen would have nothing to lose with a book. And her views of Stephen Miller as “preachy” would certainly key.
- Keep Dreaming : Anonymous dedicates the book to their children; Nielsen has none. Plus, Nielsen denied the charges forcefully.
Bill Stepien. A Senior Political Advisor for the Trump reelection campaign, Stepien was first floated as a potential Anonymous suspect by Manigault-Newman.
- West Wing / Convenient Timing . Stepien is one of the longest-serving Trump officials, joining the Trump campaign in 2016 and serving as Political Director until December of last year.
- Keep Dreaming : Any chance of Stepien realistically being Anonymous went out the window when he became entrusted with Trump’s reelection—including a “mission critical” project of annihilating political opposition from the right. (That, or it’s extremely deep cover.)
Amy Swonger. Currently Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs.
- West Wing . The longtime lobbyist has worked in the White House office since March 2017.
- X-factors . A former Senate staffer for Trent Lott and McConnell, Swonger’s establishment credentials are spotless.
- Keep Dreaming : The West Wing snake pit is not exactly conducive for writing a book manuscript.
Close but no cigar
Guy Snodgrass. A New Republic article suggests that Snodgrass, an aide to Defense Secretary Mattis and recent author of his own tell-all book, is actually Anonymous. But even a top-level Pentagon official wouldn’t presumably have cause to deal with Commerce Department officials over wheat export treaties (just one of several granular-level conversations Anonymous recounts with executive branch officials). And why write two books?
James Mattis. The Defense Secretary who resigned in protest certainly saw enough to fill several books—and appeared on Anonymous lists by Cillizza, the Washington Post and at least one gambling site. But Mattis seems too honor-bound for an anonymous tell-all, and he has denied the charge.
Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney’s name has been floated in forums, such as the Daily Kos, and by NBC News, in seeking comment from Mulvaney’s staff. But for the embattled acting chief of staff, the real question isn’t motive, but means. How does the occupant of the most frenetic job in Trump’s White House find the time to write a book?
Jared Kushner . Sure, he’s a New York Democrat, and yes, he used to own a newspaper. And more than a few dropped Kushner’s name as a plausible source of the Anonymous writings: USA Today ‘s William Cummings, researchers at the Post, and Anne Coulter. But Washington’s most practiced sycophant wouldn’t risk sabotaging his own plum job (and the imminent promise of Middle East peace) for an anonymous book—with limited royalties, no less.
Mike Pence. From the get-go, Pence was one of the most widely suspected authors: Floated by Nancy Pelosi, the Boston Globe ‘s Martin Finucane, and Vox’s Julia Azari. Initially, several observers homed in on the word “lodestar” in the original OpEd—a favorite term of art of the Vice President’s. But Anonymous’s objective isn’t to replace Trump on the 2020 ticket but to expel Trump from office in 2020. It’s doubtful Pence would be eager to sink his own ship.
Kellyanne and George Conway. From the beginning, either half of the Conway couple was suggested as a plausible candidate for the Anonymous moniker, including by Esquire ‘s Charles Pierce and Joe Scarborough. But George Conway denied that the couple was involved in typical form: “I wish.”
A Trump favorite: It’s no one. Some of TrumpWorld’s staunchest denizens have suggested that Anonymous may have been merely a literary invention by the New York Times —hardly a leap for anyone who believes news reports are based on made-up sources. Almost immediately after the op-ed was written, Trump himself questioned whether the official really existed:
Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Since the publishing of the book, however, the White House has abandoned this view, with the President’s top aides condemning the author and calling on them to unmask themselves.