We’ve now seen that a growing list of top Trump administration officials are denying that they wrote the New York Times op-ed. There’s much less here than meets the eye. Let me explain.
There are some denials where the person in question says in their own voice: I am not the author of that editorial. I would say that unless this is the case, it really means next to nothing. A number of these denials come in statements from spokespersons. Or they’re softer, less precise denials. In some cases they’re softer and less precise denials from spokespeople. To my mind, those denials mean next to nothing.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that that someone definitively denies they’re the author but they’re simply lying. In some ways remaining secret almost requires lying. What did the person think was going to happen? Unless the author is a fool it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t have anticipated being forced to deny their role.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m at least a bit skeptical of the assumption that the author of the memo is within a pool of people that only includes cabinet secretaries and the highest ranking White House aides. So perhaps everyone who’s spoken up is telling the truth. But based on the wording of many of these denials, there’s no reason to think that’s the case.