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Washington has been in a guessing game over the identity of the author of the op-ed, and several Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have issued denials. It declares that the author is part of the "resistance" inside the Trump administration.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said "the coward" who wrote the piece should step forward and resign, saying "he is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people".

"The crisis of our time is that people in positions of power see a president who shows "a preference for autocrats and dictators" and "anti-democratic impulses", but do not publicly stand against them, and so allow it to continue", tweets Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia.

She criticized the media's use of anonymous sources.

They argued that the op-ed underscored the president's assessment that the establishment is seeking to block his agenda with tactics that do not appeal to average voters. The newspaper's executive editor, Dean Baquet, was not involved because the news pages are his responsibility, and the column appeared in the Times' opinion section.

The former NY businessman and reality TV star has had an unusually high level of staff turnover and has sometimes publicly criticized his top aides.

When Ingraham began saying she anxious about aides working in the administration who do not "buy into the Trump agenda", Conway said, "I hear you".

Following the publication of a scathing op-ed from an anonymous senior Trump administration official, The New York Times refused to disclose any identifiable information about its source.

Writing in The New Yorker, Masha Gessen said the piece "added little to the public's understanding of the administration", and that by publishing it anonymously, the newspaper "forfeits the job of holding power to account".

Defense Secretary Mattis said, "The contemptuous words about the president attributed to me in Woodward's book were never uttered by me or in my presence".

"I spend more time with the President than anyone else, and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship", he said.

"If you want to know who this gutless loser is, call the opinion desk of the failing NYT".

We won't let President Trump ruin everything.

The message called the Times "complicit in this deceitful act".

The president responded in person on Wednesday shortly after the op-ed was published.

"TREASON?" Trump asked in a furious volley of tweets.

The author said Trump was reluctant to take the action, but "his national security team knew better".

The official said that early on in the administration, some officials quietly discussed invoking the 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which allows the removal of a president judged unable to perform his duties.

Social media has been flooded with theories and counter-theories as to the author's identity, with speculation ranging from Vice-President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, to Trump's own daughter, Ivanka, or his wife, Melania.