Kelly scurried in and out

Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman give us a look inside the West Wing in the aftermath of the “We are the unsung heroes” editorial yesterday.

Mr. Trump erupted in anger after reading the Op-Ed article and John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, and other aides scurried in and out of the press office trying to figure out how to respond. Advisers told Mr. Trump that this was the same as leakers who talk with the news media every day, but a hunt for the author of the offending article was quickly initiated and scrutiny focused on a half-dozen names. Aides said they assumed it was written by someone who worked in the administration but not the White House itself, although they could not be sure.

Look for someone who is massively pleased with himself and not terribly bright.

Yeah I know – sarcastic “Well that narrows it down a lot” response is deserved.

Mr. Trump angrily lashed out during public events and on Twitter. He assailed what he called the “gutless editorial” by the unnamed official and he dismissed Mr. Woodward’s book as “a total piece of fiction” and “totally discredited.” He attributed the accounts to a news media that has sought to destroy his presidency.

Trump acted like Trump, to the surprise of no one.

In the hours after the Op-Ed published, Washington has been scrambling to pin down the identity of this anonymous official.

“It is not mine,” Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State, said of the piece during brief remarks in India on Thursday.

“I come from a place where if you’re not in the position to execute the commander’s intent, you have a singular option, and it’s to leave,” Mr. Pompeo said. “And this person instead, according to The New York Times, chose not only to stay, but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do.”

Mr. Trump’s mood vacillated from fury to calm throughout Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday. Some of his top aides worked the phones to figure out who was leaking or who might have spoken, and his daughter Ivanka Trump and other advisers tried to quell his distress.

He seemed satisfied that Mr. Kelly and Mr. Mattis had denied remarks attributed to them in Mr. Woodward’s book — Mr. Kelly was quoted calling the president an “idiot” and Mr. Mattis said he had the understanding of a “fifth or sixth grader.” But his ire was trained particularly on two former aides, the former director of the National Economic Council, Gary D. Cohn, and the former staff secretary, Rob Porter, according to people close to the White House.

It’s just such a puzzle, why so many people who work with Trump have criticisms of him.

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