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'Anonymous' Will Recount Trump Conversations

Axios reports author was in many meetings with the president he's criticizing
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2019 11:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – News emerged this week that one of the President Trump's most notable critics—notable mostly for his or her anonymity—is about to release a book. Now, Mike Allen of Axios reports that the author of the forthcoming book, A Warning, "was a frequent participant in meetings with President Trump and plans to recount specific conversations." Allen also gets the first peek at the book's back cover and quotes this: "You will hear a great deal from Donald Trump directly, for there is no better witness to his character than his own words." Related coverage:

  • Also of note: Allen reports the author will give at least one interview to a yet-to-be-named journalist to coincide with next month's publication. Details, including the format of the interview, remain under wraps.
  • The mystery: The author first came to national attention with an op-ed critical of Trump in the New York Times in September 2018. Among other things, it called Trump “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective," and said "his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back." Trump railed against the author as "gutless" and demanded the Times reveal the person's identity, notes the Washington Post. The Times has refused to do so.

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  • Clues: The op-ed identified the author as a "senior administration official," and a Times editor later said, "All I can say is I feel that we followed a definition that has been used by our newsroom in the past." So just how "senior" is the official and how much access did he or she have? That's part of the DC guessing game. Axios' Allen, for his part, previously speculated the author is probably "authentically 'senior,'" though he also pointed out reasons for skepticism about that.
  • Not thrilled: At the National Review, Jim Geraghty sees a "cynical" motive at play for the author in releasing the book soon: If Trump isn't re-elected, nobody will be interested anymore. He's also not wowed by the author's pledge to donate a "substantial portion" of the proceeds to free-press groups, without specifying what "substantial" means. As for news value, that's impossible to say until we learn how plugged in the author really was. There's a world of difference between a Cabinet official and an "obscure" deputy somewhere.
  • In defense: Jack Shafer of Politico thinks it's pretty impressive how prescient the September 2018 op-ed has proven to be. Since its publication, we've seen "steady confirmation of the op-ed's key points." For example, it asserted that many senior administration officials were actively working against Trump's agenda, and "a steady stream of news stories has appeared—and continues to appear almost daily—confirming the assertion of aggressive sandbagging of the president by top administration officials," writes Shafer.
  • A question: A big unknown is whether the author is still a member of the administration, notes the New York Times. The story notes that only the newspaper's editorial department knows the author's name, meaning the everyday journalists who cover the White House are in the dark. However, the publication of a 272-page book may make it difficult to keep the name secret for much longer, given the ability to quickly analyze prose.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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