Senior aides to Donald Trump scrambled on Thursday to disown a New York Times column written by an unnamed administration official that slammed the leadership style of the US president as impetuous, petty and ineffective.
Washington was consumed by a wild guessing game as to the identity of the author, and swift denials of involvement in the op-ed came Thursday from top administration officials, including from Vice-President Mike Pence's office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats, director of national intelligence.
Trump railed against the op-ed during a meeting of dozens of sheriffs from across the country on Wednesday, calling the anonymous piece "gutless".
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a trip to India, told reporters "it's not mine", and denounced the Times for publishing the anonymous article that indicates Trump may be facing the prospect of revolt within his own administration. "If I weren't here, I'd believe The New York Times probably wouldn't even exist".
On Thursday, Melania Trump issued a statement regarding the op-ed, accussing the author of "sabotaging" the U.S.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), an outspoken critic of Trump, said the account would have no effect on either party, because voters already knew the nature of the president's temperament: "I think people inside the White House have understood the situation from Day One. This guy", Kimmel said before showing video evidence of Pence using the word on multiple occasions.
Under its editorial guidelines, the Washington Post - the Times' chief rival and perhaps one of the only other newspapers that could have landed the anonymous official's op-ed - might well have passed.
The author wrote that there was a resistance working within the administration to thwart the president's worst impulses.
The Times opinion section said the piece was written by a senior official in the administration and that it was taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous article because disclosing the author's identity would jeopardise the person's job. "I am one of them".
At the same time, I can't say whether we would have done it or not, so I don't want to sound churlish.
There have been previous reports by journalists and former White House staffers of upheaval in the White House West Wing since Trump's January 2017 inauguration.
The New York Times's decision to publish an anonymous column from a White House insider has set off not only a political firestorm and infuriated President Donald Trump, but spurred debate over media ethics.
The Times column said that those working for Trump made sure sanctions were placed on Russia for poisoning a Russian spy in Britain, despite the president's reluctance to do so.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also dismissed Woodward's book, saying, "I haven't read a lot of his books". Dao said: "I feel that we followed a definition that has been used by our newsroom in the past".