An alleged “senior Trump official” is hiding behind anonymity to attack their fellow federal workers in an op-ed for a pro-Trump website.
The website dailycaller.com — which once published an op-ed from Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska attacking the Mueller investigation without disclosing that he was under investigation by Mueller’s team — decided to publish an op-ed from someone only identified as a “senior Trump official” attacking furloughed federal workers. The site’s reasoning for keeping the author’s identity a secret is because the author could lose their job if their name was tied to the column.
“The Daily Caller is taking the rare step of publishing this anonymous op-ed at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose career would be jeopardized by its disclosure,” the website’s editors wrote. “We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”
In the op-ed, the author made an unexpectedly hostile argument against federal workers and federal agencies in general, stating that they viewed the shutdown as more than a battle over funding for a border wall, but an ideological battle to effectively shutter multiple government agencies for good.
“On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t,” the alleged senior Trump official wrote. “They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands.”
“We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them,” the author continued.
While it’s unknown whether or not the alleged Trump official has the ear of the president on a daily basis, the fact that someone supposedly high up in the White House is making an argument to dismantle most federal agencies suggests that the Trump administration is openly playing politics with the lives of several hundred thousand federal employees struggling to make ends meet without paychecks — and potentially risking national security in the process.
Take, for example, the fact that an airline passenger was able to sneak a gun past airport security at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this weekend. Roughly 7.6 percent of all Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees called out on Monday, roughly double the percentage of TSA workers who called out on January 14 of last year. TSA workers are seen as “essential” employees who are still required to come to work despite not being paid, just like air traffic controllers, one of whom last week shared a photo of a paycheck for $0.00.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also not been conducting high-risk food inspections, according to a recent tweet from FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The FDA chief tweeted Monday that his agency would be resuming high-risk inspections as soon as Tuesday, suggesting the agency’s work making sure the food that makes it to supermarket shelves is safe for consumption was halted for a period of time due to the shutdown. Gottlieb emphasized the inspections are being done by an inspectorate that is “largely going unpaid.”
This work is being done by an inspectorate that's largely going unpaid. These men and women are the tip of the spear in our consumer protection mission. They're the very front line. And they're on the job. The entire nation owes them gratitude. I'm inspired by their dedication.
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 14, 2019
The fact that this op-ed was published in the far-right Daily Caller raises questions, given that the last time an alleged senior Trump official wrote an anonymous op-ed, it was written for a mainstream audience and published in the New York Times.
One reason may be that President Trump’s support among uneducated working-class whites — a key bloc that helped him win the 2016 election — is sliding in the midst of the shutdown. The Washington Post reported that the latest drop in approval rating is due to waning support from that specific demographic. If the author is legitimately a senior official in the Trump White House, it’s possible that the statements made are being made to justify Trump’s actions in an attempt to recover support from an audience that is typically loyal to the president at all costs.
As of this writing, Trump has not yet responded to the claims made in the anonymous op-ed.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.