‘Total Meltdown’: In Hunt For Op-Ed Author, Trump Frets He Can Only Trust His Children

on September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump waits for the arrival of Emir of Kuwait, SheikhJaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, for a meeting at the White House, on September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump waits for the arrival of Emir of Kuwait, SheikhJaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, for a meeting at the White House, on September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The President known for his fear of being poisoned has found new episode to fuel his paranoia: The administration has a “resistance” mole.

According to reports from The Washington Post, The New York Times and Politico, the hours following the publication of the Times op-ed, penned anonymously by a senior official who self-identified as a thwarter of President Trump’s most “misguided impulses,” catapulted the already tumultuous White House into a state of “total meltdown.”

Trump’s “volcanic” anger and “absolutely livid”  (in the Post’s words) reaction to the op-ed sent top aides, like chief of staff John Kelly, scuttling to sniff out the renegade, according to the Times, which reported that aides have already produced a list of at least six possible culprits. Some believe the defector works in the administration, but not the actual White House, while two people familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump is convinced the turncoat is involved in national security or a member of the Justice Department.

“It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” one former White House official who remains in contact with ex-colleagues told the Post. 

The publication of the anonymous note of dissension has only added to Trump’s increased “sense of paranoia,” according to the Post, and has pushed the President — who was already feeling vulnerable following reports on Bob Woodward’s new book filled with anonymously sourced palace intrigue — to question his closest allies. Only his children remain trusted confidantes, a Trump friend told the Post.

“He’s surrounded by strangers,” one former Trump campaign official told Politico. 

Whoever the op-ed author may be, they hold late-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in a high regard, a note that ruffled Trump’s feathers further.

The column reignited Trump’s frustration with last week’s remembrances of McCain and the widespread adulation of his life,” in the Post’s words. 

Those close to the administration also are speculating about the timing of the op-ed’s publication, according to Politico. A former official told Politico that the release was politically motivated, designed to support Democrats’ efforts to re-take the House. Two other former administration officials disputed those assessments, suggesting the episode would blow over like most other White House scandals.

Another disagreed, calling it “open season on the President.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: