When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Trump and top members of his Administration in May
Trump and top members of his Administration in May
Timothy L. O'Brien*

NEW YORK — The New York Times published an extraordinary column this afternoon by an anonymous contributor identified as a "senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure." (In a tweet, and perhaps inadvertently, the Times also described its op-ed columnist as a man.)

It's readily apparent why the writer's job would be threatened. His column describes a White House mired in subterfuge and scheming because President Donald Trump isn't able or fit to carry out his duties. "The root of the problem is the president's amorality," the columnist observes. "Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making."

Confronted with that reality, Trump's own White House staff has apparently gone rogue. "Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations," notes the columnist. "We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic."

The writer said he shares Trump's goals of building a strong military, cutting taxes and doing away with federal regulations — successes he says Team Trump has been able to pull off despite the president's dangerous ineptitude. To achieve their goals, they work around Trump and walk back — or simply thwart — "Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office."

"Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president," the writer adds. "But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it's over."

There is some good intent here. A group of people is trying to adhere to principle and make the executive branch function in a mature and responsible way — because Trump, the man elected to do just that, can't. They are so concerned about things going haywire that they ponder making use of an amendment to the Constitution that allows for replacing the president when he or she is "unable to discharge the powers and duties' of the office.

Unless Vice President Mike Pence is involved with that decision, however, it's not up to White House officials to "invoke" the 25th Amendment by themselves. The amendment requires vice-presidential participation if it is invoked within the White House. And if Pence is involved with the group the Times columnist describes, well, the plot thickens. But all of that is an argument for another day.

The U.S. government is not supposed to function this way.

What seems more pointed to me is that the columnist says his troupe sought to avert a constitutional crisis. Think about that: White House officials were so concerned about Trump's lack of fitness that they considered dire measures, which they then dismissed to avoid a crisis. So these same unelected and unknown officials, all appointed by a president they see as unfit, are now running the country without oversight and accountability? If that's not a crisis, what is?

The U.S. government is not supposed to function this way. A vibrant democracy rides on the back of voting, transparency and the rule of law. When unelected officials act unilaterally and in secrecy because they work for an inept executive who doesn't respect the law, then you have yourself a crisis. (Trump, always a model of probity, zipped out a video on Twitter Wednesday evening slagging the Times as "gutless' for publishing the anonymous column.)

Similar things have happened before. In 1919, for example, President Woodrow Wilson became paralyzed and partially blind following a stroke. Wilson's doctor and his wife, Edith, covered up the president's condition and Edith administered his executive powers while keeping Wilson's cabinet and the Congress ill-informed and at a distance. Edith continued her stealth presidency until Wilson's term ended in 1921.

It wasn't until the 25th Amendment was passed in 1967, 48 years after Wilson's stroke and four years after John F. Kennedy's assassination, that a clear procedure for replacing an incapacitated or dead president was put into place.

Trump, of course, is neither incapacitated nor dead. He is merely tragicomically out of his depth (as Bob Woodward's upcoming book, and Trump's own history, have substantiated).

As Woodward's reporting makes clear, some White House officials, like Defense Secretary James Mattis, have occasionally been able to ward off some of Trump's most perilous instincts. But Mattis, and the Times"s anonymous columnist, haven't warded off a crisis. They're living in one.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Ideas

García Márquez And Truth: How Journalism Fed The Novelist's Fantasy

In his early journalistic writings, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez showed he had an eye for factual details, in which he found the absurdity and 'magic' that would in time be the stuff and style of his fiction.

Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads his book

J. D. Torres Duarte

BOGOTÁ — In short stories written in the 1940s and early 50s and later compiled in Eyes of a Blue Dog, the late Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia's Nobel Prize-winning novelist, shows he is as yet a young writer, with a style and subjects that can be atypical.

Stylistically, García Márquez came into his own in the celebrated One Hundred Years of Solitude. Until then both his style and substance took an erratic course: touching the brevity of film scripts in Nobody Writes to the Colonel, technical experimentation in Leaf Storm, the anecdotal short novel in In Evil Hour or exploring politics in Big Mama's Funeral. Throughout, the skills he displayed were rather of a precocious juggler.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ