The article's author, who is known to the newspaper but described only as a senior administration official, portrayed President Donald Trump as "amoral" and reckless, and said a "quiet resistance" had formed among top aides to thwart his most misguided actions.
It caused a political firestorm and drew the president's immediate ire, with Trump tweeting that it was "GUTLESS" and demanding that the Times "turn him/her over to government at once".
He/she describes a "two-track presidency", where the president's actions - such as his conciliatory attitude toward "autocrats and dictators", including Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin - are constrained and redirected by "adults in the room". Basically, to be treasonous, the op-ed author would have had to levy war against the US or provide help to a foreign entity already at war with the USA, neither of which were accomplished by the essay.
However, she lamented that the author of the op-ed would not stand by their words if they leveled such grievous accusations against the president.
Dao told a Times reporter that the piece was submitted last week through an intermediary, and anonymity wasn't granted until editors were confident in the writer's identity.
"We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers", it wrote. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's spokesman, Tony Sayegh, said on Twitter it was "laughable to think this could come from the secretary". Her message included the Times' phone number. "I have never seen anything like this. If there's any question about the role that journalism plays in a democracy, this puts it to bed".
Sanders said The Times should apologize. John McCain. That word, say some of these new amateur sleuths, is one often used in speeches given by Pence, meaning it could be either the vice-president or possibly his speechwriter.
Trump was furious, tweeting Thursday morning that "The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going insane - & they don't know what to do".
The official said that early on in the administration, some officials quietly discussed invoking the 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which allows the removal of a president judged unable to perform his duties.
"No-one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis", he/she writes.More news: Meteorite Survives Catastrophic Fire at the National Museum of Brazil
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a meeting with Republican House and Senate leadership in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. September 5, 2018.
"What's different here is the scale of it", he said. "The president. I think he's impaired with public opinion, but he's a little stronger, with a somewhat tighter grip on power today than 48 hours ago". "I wonder how the editorial side is keeping (the source's identity) from the news side".
"I don't really know what's going on in the White House. but it seems to me from outside it's open-ended down there, that there's no confidentiality and not a lot of loyalty down there with a lot of people", he said. "It's a risk worth taking because the message is so powerful".
And White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called on the anonymous official to resign. She called it another example of the liberal media's effort to discredit Trump.
Trump railed against the op-ed during a meeting of dozens of sheriffs from across the country on Wednesday, calling the anonymous piece "gutless".
"And of course Bob Woodward is out there".
The president concluded that the statements refuted Woodward's book, and noted the "timing" of the release, though it was unclear what he meant by that. Ryan said he understands Trump's tweeting and "unconventional tactics" bother people, but the Wisconsin Republican said the president is producing "good results".
"The media's wild obsession 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".