Donald Trump's top lieutenants rushed on Thursday to deny the authorship of an explosive opinion piece that has plunged his presidency into its worst crisis so far by proclaiming a secret internal resistance to his reckless "amoral" leadership.
The White House has been convulsed since Wednesday by a hunt by the top official who declared, in an unsigned article for The New York Times, that "unsung heroes" were quietly working within the administration to thwart the "worst inclinations" of the president. .
"TREASON?" Trump asked in a furious download of tweets.
First Lady Melania Trump also intervened, censoring the Times decision to publish the article.
"For the writer of the opinion article, he is not protecting this country, he is sabotaging it with his cowardly actions," he said.
On the Internet and in Washington, meanwhile, a guessing game has arisen about who could be the author, which caused that almost all the members of the government classified in the cabinet denied that they were.
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, were among those who issued denials.
"The Vice President puts his name in his Op-eds. @Nytimes should be ashamed, as well as the person who wrote the false, illogical and cowardly opinion piece," Pence's spokesman Jarrod Agen wrote on Twitter.
"Our office is above such amateur acts."
The manifesto followed the publication of extracts from a book of bombs by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, who described the Trump White House as a "crazy city" out of control.
Woodward's book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," reported that senior advisors lifted documents from the Oval Office's desk to prevent the president from acting on his impulses, reinforcing the assertions in the Times op-ed.
It's not mine & # 39;
News of the article was found with Pompeo in New Delhi, where he was traveling with Mattis.
Pompeo called the Times' decision to publish "sad" and "unsettling."
"I come from a place where if you are not in a position to execute the intention of the commander, you have a unique option, is to leave," he said.
"And this person instead, according to the New York Times, chose not only to stay but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do."
"It's not mine," Pompeo added, referring to the article.
Mattis' spokeswoman, Dana White, offered a similar denial: "It was not the secretary's opinion piece," she said in an email.
Coats, who as head of intelligence has sometimes publicly disagreed with the president, issued a statement in which he speculated that he or his deputy had written the opinion article as "obviously false."
"We did not do it," he said.
When asked if she had written it, UN envoy Nikki Haley responded with a dry "no" on her way to a Security Council meeting.
James Dao, who runs the Times' opinion page, told CNN he received the article through an intermediary several days ago, and described the timing of the publication of the piece and Woodward's book as "a coincidence."
Dao said he had spoken directly with its author, but did not elaborate.
In a revealing passage, the author said there was a conversation among cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution. UU., Which provides for the dismissal of the president if "can not comply with the powers and duties of his office." "
In the end, they decided not to unleash a constitutional crisis and, instead, "committed to doing what we can to preserve our democratic institutions and thwart Trump's most mistaken impulses until his term ends," the person wrote.
Trump responded with fury, on Twitter and in comments at public events at the White House, calling it "editorial without meaning."
"Is there really a so-called 'senior management official', or is it just the Failing New York Times with another false source?" Trump tweeted.
"If the anonymous GUTLESS person exists, the Times must, for reasons of national security, deliver it to the government immediately."
The Times acknowledged the "rare step" of publishing an anonymous editorial, but said the official's job would be in danger if they were identified.
"We believe that publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to offer an important perspective to our readers," the newspaper said.
The official's piece described a presidency of "two tracks" in which Trump says one thing and his staff consciously does another, citing the presumed preference of the president "by autocrats and dictators."
"The root of the problem is the amorality of the president," the official said.
The staff actively worked to isolate themselves from Trump's "impetuous, adversarial, insignificant and ineffective" leadership style, the writer said.