Hear the entire NYT stunning op-ed

CNN's Kate Bolduan reads the entire op-ed in the New York Times written by an unnamed senior Trump administration official.

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 4:22 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 4:39 PM

There are few things in Washington more malleable than the definition of "senior official."

As news organizations and the White House scramble to figure out who wrote the anonymous op-ed written by a "senior official in the Trump administration" for The New York Times, there are hundreds, if not potentially thousands, of people who conceivably qualify for that title.

There are the roughly two dozen (23) Cabinet secretaries, of course -- many of whom fell over themselves Thursday to public deny they had authored the column.

And each of them has deputy secretaries, assistance secretaries, chiefs of staff, deputy chiefs of staff -- the list expands exponentially. Any of them could arguably be labeled a senior administration official in a news story written by CNN or The New York Times.

Then there are White House senior staffers themselves. Twenty-three White House staffers, for instance, make the maximum federal salary. Could it be one of the nation's ambassadors or US attorneys, all of whom are appointed by the President? What about the people at Pentagon? Whole sections of the E-Ring could be "senior" officials. All of them work, to varying degrees of remove, for the President.

The official who wrote the op-ed seemed to have knowledge of Cabinet meetings, but did not directly quote the President as if they had directly interacted with him.

To estimate one potential scope for what the universe might be, CNN examined records of presidential appointee roles throughout the federal government and found roughly 2,000 positions scattered across dozens of agencies.

Why appointees? Because Mr. or Ms. Anonymous appears to reference being an appointee in the Times column.

"That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office," the author wrote.

Of course, even that isn't completely definitive: The author could also be a so-called "acting" official in an appointed role, if Trump hasn't named a replacement yet himself. It's impossible to know -- though that person would seemingly still qualify as a senior administration official.

CNN examined about 2,000 non-vacant presidential appointee roles (including those currently filled by acting officials).

They include more than 100 people each at large agencies like the departments of State, Justice, Defense and Education.

Is it likely The New York Times would consider an appointee at the Department of Education senior enough to write about Russia policy and obstructing the President's agenda? Perhaps not, but Opinion Page Editor Jim Dao was asked by CNN's Brian Stelter how the paper was defining "senior" and Dao wouldn't say.

But there are also numerous appointees at everything ranging from the Treasury Department all the way to more obscure organizations like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Or how about the Postal Service? Or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.? They have appointees, too.

There is also a class of thousands of senior federal employees known as the "Senior Executive Service." More than 7,000 of them. These senior managers could legitimately claim the mantle of "senior administration official," one presumes.

However, only a small portion of them are appointed by the president -- most are career employees.

Given the author's own description of being an appointee, who are the Senior Executive Service officials who are Trump appointees?

According to data maintained by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, there are about 570 such "non-career" senior executives -- those placed there by the current administration. They are spread across 17 federal agencies.

The largest contingent resides within the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by the Justice and Defense departments.

Whether any of these people are The One -- nobody really knows. It's pure speculation that's consuming Washington at the moment. But could it conceivably be any one of these people? It's a possibility. And it shows just how tricky the mole hunt might be for a White House looking to out the author.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 80°
Columbus
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 76°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather