Washington's newest saloon game, played with cocktails, coffees and cigars, is the dungeon surrounding a biting, anti-Trump anonymous The New York Times online trial on Wednesday.
Bread crumbs scattered, from the use of the obscure word & # 39; lodestar & # 39; until the Times' errant use of a masculine pronoun, they immediately transfigured D.C.'s chattering class. And what has emerged from the collective mystery of a city obsessed with scandal is a handful of familiar names and speculations about unrecognized but powerful people behind the scenes.
As usual in the city that brought the Watergate world, Linda Tripp and the initially anonymous author of the campaign book "Primary Colors", all from K Street to Constitution Avenue have a theory.
The office of Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, gave reporters a three-word response about his possible authorship while traveling in India: "It's not mine."
But at least one State Department source believes that another of Foggy Bottom's star players, the ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, could have risked his career by secretly criticizing the president in print.
"I could see it was Huntsman," a State Department attorney told DailyMail.com on Thursday. "Something fits, and he's the kind of person who would consider it his duty to undermine the boss for a greater good."
President Donald Trump has launched a massive hunt inside his administration to discover the anonymous author of a New York Times op-ed that ruthlessly destroyed him on Wednesday.
A State Department official said Thursday that ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, could be the culprit; Like the author of the essay that praised the late moderate Republican senator John McCain (left), Huntsman worshiped the ground he stepped on.
Initial speculation centered on Vice President Mike Pence (left) due to a single word in the opinion piece – Lodestar – that Pence has used again and again in his political career, but that turned out to be a false lead.
The lawyer emphasized that there is no solid evidence to point out to the diplomat. But, like the editorial writer, Huntsman & # 39; adored [John] McCain's feet considered him "the best example of an honorable guy in the Senate."
"We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example: a polar star to restore the honor of public life and our national dialogue, "wrote the author of the essay, using the magic word that can be planted to sow confusion.
– Sir. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we must revere them.
A Senate assistant who works for a moderate Republican said on Thursday to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, telling DailyMail.com that Trump will be finally eaten by one of their own in his campaign, one of the people who know him better than the rest of us. & # 39;
"Haha no," said a spokesman for Carson, putting out the fire.
The spokesman for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Tony Sayegh, said his boss has the honor of serving @POTUS and the American people. Feel that it was irresponsible for @nytimes to print this anonymous piece. Now, worthy public servants are forced to deny being the source. It is laughable to think that this could come from the Secretary. "
Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security issued a harsh denial.
"Secretary Nielsen focuses on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland, not writing anonymous and false pieces of opinion for the New York Times This type of political attack is below the Secretary and the mission of the Department" said press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton.
Spokesmen for Secretary of Defense James Mattis (left) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (right) have issued outright denials
Pentagon spokesman Dana White denied that Secretary James Mattis had participated in the assault without fingerprints and said: "It was not your publisher."
The very public guessing games have exhausted the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, according to a White House official who said her Wednesday afternoon and evening consisted of launching one strategic fire after another.
By Thursday morning I had had enough.
"The wild obsession of the media with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump." Stop, Sanders tweeted.
& # 39; If you want to know who this senseless loser is, call the NYT opinion desk that fails at 212-556-1234 and ask them. They are the only accomplices in this deceptive act. We are united and we fully support our President Donald J. Trump. "
The first infatuation focused on a line of the essay that described the life of the late Senator McCain as "a polar star to restore honor in public life and in our national dialogue."
Vice President Mike Pence, chair linguists on Twitter quickly determined, used that word again and again in his speeches and television appearances.
And no one else in a higher administrative role seems to have it in their vocabulary. (The last American presidents Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson did).
Pence's office, flooded with calls from journalists, has said flatly that the vice president was not responsible.
"The vice president puts his name in his Op-Eds", tweeted Jarrod Agen, Pence's director of communications. "The @nytimes should be ashamed and also the person who wrote the fake, illogical and contentless opinion piece, Our office is above such amateur acts.
Some on Capitol Hill broke their betting lists with dismay.
"That's very bad, really," an official who works for a conservative member of Congress said on Thursday. & # 39; Pence is what we call & # 39; squish & # 39; I'd like you to try to do this and make a simple miscalculation like that.
The next round of speculation fell on Pence's speech writer, Stephen Ford. But the examples of & # 39; lodestar & # 39; in the vice-presidential vocabulary go back to 2001, when Ford was in third grade.
Who wrote the opinion article of the New York Times & # 39; Trump & # 39; resistance & # 39 ;?
Pence speaks by mobile phone before attending the Republican politics luncheon in Washington DC on September 5
Mike Pence – NEGA
Detectives perfected the word & lodestar & # 39 ;, a favorite of the vice president. The author of the editorial described the late Senator John McCain as "a polar star to restore honor in public life and in our national dialogue."
Others suggested that the word, which means the guiding star of a ship, could have been included deliberately to get the journalists off the trail.
This was the verdict of a senior White House official who spoke with Dailymail.com. He said that the suspicions are not focused on him or anyone in his office after a frank discussion among the senior staff of the vice president.
Pence has never criticized Trump in public. Writing the opinion article almost certainly will ruin any future offer for a high position. And your communications director he has publicly denied it, saying that Pence would always sign his own work.
If & # 39; lodestar & # 39; it was not an intentional red harangue, others speculated, the suspicion could fall on Pence's speech writer.
But the use of the word VP goes back at least to 2001. Ford, a young rising star in Washington's conservative circles, was in third grade that year.
Mattis gesticulates during a press conference at the Pentagon on May 19, 2017
James Mattis – NEGA
The Secretary of Defense, despite being a favorite of Trump, has repeatedly sounded in disagreement with the commander-in-chief while discussing NATO, Russia and military strategy.
During an episode of Bob Woodward's recent book, "Fear," Trump questioned the ability of US early warning systems. UU In Alaska to identify a nuclear attack by North Korea.
It is said that Mattis instructed him. "We are doing this to avoid World War III," he said.
According to reports, the Pentagon chief told his colleagues after the incident that Trump had the mental capacity of "a fifth or sixth grade student."
Mattis has denied the version, saying in a statement: "The derogatory words about the president that are attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence."
A Pentagon spokesman denied writing the Times article. "It was not his opinion piece," spokesman Dana White said.
Kelly at the White House on August 20
The White House chief of staff was also cited in Woodward's book for calling Trump an "idiot."
& # 39; There is no point in trying to convince him of anything. It has left the tracks, "he said supposedly.
& # 39; We're in Crazytown. I do not even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I have ever had. "
Kelly denied making the statements, in a statement issued by the White House.
"The idea that I once called the president is not true, in fact it's the exact opposite," he said. "This is a pathetic attempt to defame people close to President Trump and distract him from his many successes."
The sessions talk about immigration and law enforcement at Lackawanna College on June 15, 2018
Jeff Sessions – NEGA
The attorney general has a reason to injure his boss after Trump punished him repeatedly in public for having withdrawn from the Russian investigation.
And he has been released from Sessions for the charges brought by the Justice Department against two Republican members in Congress, complaining that the accusations hurt the incumbents and jeopardized the ability of the Republican Party to retain its majority in the House.
The president also compared Sessions unfavorably with the FBI director who fired, & # 39; Lyin & # 39; James Comey, saying that they had become martyrs of the same lawmakers who despised them after resisting the president's orders.
Woodward writes that Sessions called Trump "mentally retarded," which also encountered severe denial.
A Department of Justice spokesperson denies that Session has written the NYT opinion article.
Coats addresses the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on July 19
Dan Coats – NEGA
The director of national intelligence also deviated from Trump's loyal line.
When informed of the president's plan to invite Vladimir Putin to the White House, Coats angered the president by saying: "That's going to be special."
He later "clarified" his comments, made during an interview at the Aspen Institute's safety forum in Colorado, saying that his response "was in no way intended to be disrespectful or to criticize the president's actions."
Trump received strong criticism from Republicans and Democrats for his summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, where he seemed reluctant to blame Russia for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Coats published a statement in which he denied that he or his assistant had written the piece.
McGahn is interviewed at a conference in Gaylord, Maryland, on February 22
The White House lawyer plans to leave the White House in the fall, so he should not fear the consequences of the exposure as an anti-Trumper secret.
He has also confronted the president in the past.
This includes rejecting an order to dismiss Robert Mueller, who oversees the Russian investigation that Trump describes as a "witch hunt."
McGahn risked the president's anger by spending 30 hours in interviews with Mueller's team on three separate occasions.
Melania and Ivanka observe before the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Hempstead, New York
Melania or Ivanka?
The first lady is an unlikely candidate for the authorship of the Times essay.
Twitter commentators pointed out that she had already been accused of telegraphing coded messages that gave public indications of opposition to her husband's policies.
This included wearing a jacket that said, "I do not really care, right?" when they visit shelters for illegal immigrant children.
Ivanka Trump said earlier that she would work to ensure that her voice was heard through her father's policies, but apparently she did not, especially in the case of family separations along the border between Mexico and the United States, which she opposed "vehemently".
Her husband, Jared, is a senior advisor and may also be involved, but it is very likely that anyone in Trump's family will sell him.
The Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, issued his own categorical denial on Thursday.
"The speculation that the New York Times opinion piece was written by me or my Principal Deputy is obviously false, we did not do it," he said in a statement.
& # 39; Since the beginning of our mandate, we have insisted that the whole IC [intelligence community] remain focused on our mission of providing the president and politicians with the best possible intelligence. "
The Times' emphasis on the alleged failures and failures of Trump's foreign policy has led some in Washington to suspect Fiona Hill, the principal director of European and Russian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council.
Trump "shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and shows little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied nations, for ideas related, "the mysterious author wrote
The only clue that the Times offered on Wednesday, apart from the vague concession that a "high official" in the Trump administration he had written the 957-word hit to President Trump's ego, it was a tweet that used the masculine pronoun "he".
But a spokeswoman for the Times later said that the word was a mistake that should not be read as a sign.
"Top opinion editors know the identity of the official, as we noted in our editor's note," Danielle Ha told reporters. & # 39; The tweet was written by someone who does not know the author's identity, including gender, so the use of & # 39; He was a mistake & # 39;
Trump was infuriated by the piece in the White House, asking the confidants to reveal the author's disloyalty and to see that the so-called Deep State within the federal government had conspired against him, according to a person familiar with the president's opinions, but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The text of the opinion article was separated by clues: the writer is identified as an "official of the administration"; Does that mean a person who works outside the White House? References to Russia and the late Senator John McCain: do you suggest that someone work in national security? Does the writing style sound like someone who worked in a think tank?
The Beltway guessing game leaked into the White House, as both current and former staff exchanged calls and texts trying to discover who could have written the piece, some turning to journalists and asking for clues.
For many in Trump's orbit, it was dazzling to realize how many people the author of the publisher might have been. And some of the oldest members of the Trump administration were forced to deny that they were the author of the attack on their boss.
Trump, who appeared at an unrelated event on Wednesday at the White House, criticized the Times for publishing the opinion piece.
"They do not like Donald Trump and I do not like them," he said of the newspaper. The opinion pages of the newspaper are handled separately from your news department.
The writer of the Times believes that Trump's advisers are aware of the president's failings and "many of the senior officials of his own administration are working diligently from within to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. one of them. & # 39;
The writer also alleged that "there were early murmurs within the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment" due to the "instability" witnessed in the president.
Amendment 25 allows the vice president to assume control if the commander-in-chief "can not fulfill the powers and duties of his office." It requires the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to relieve the president.