The odds are neither you nor I know who the author of this op-ed is. There are plenty of senior administration officials and we can conclude that this is someone familiar with conversations of cabinet secretaries and the national security apparatus. We can probably presume this person is on their way out as well. We cannot, however, presume that by "senior administration official" that we are dealing with someone at the level of Chief of Staff, Cabinet Secretary, etc. It could actually be someone who interacts with the President, but at a more junior level than we might presume.
First off, contra some, there is no constitutional crisis. Every President has people who steer him even if this President has to be steered more than most. Every President has the occasional bad impulse. This President just seems to have more than every other one combined.
The constitutional crisis would be if the cabinet invoked the 25th amendment and did not have two-thirds of Congress to go along with them. Then the President would see a mass, forced resignation of his cabinet and have a Vice President he could not trust. There is your constitutional crisis. On top of that, to do this after a duly elected President is sworn in who was elected according to the laws and conventions of the United States and its constitution would be not just an affront to American democracy but, again, a constitutional crisis. The people who are screaming "constitutional crisis!!!!" the loudest are the ones hell bent on causing a constitutional crisis.
The President's advisors all swore to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Throwing out the lawfully elected President would violate that oath. Working tirelessly to make sure the President does not stray from his own oath is keeping their oath. Contrary to what David Frum writes in the Atlantic, "overt defiance of the presidential authority by the President's own appointees" has been going on in various ways, shapes, and forms since George Washington was President.
Next, I need to make a point that is unpleasant for some and they will struggle mightily with this. What this person describes and what the people in Bob Woodward's book describe are, in fact, reality. You can pretend otherwise, but these stories have been consistent since before the President set foot in the White House. You can call these people disloyal or traitors, but the reality is the American people elected a walking temper tantrum in response to their outrage over a political class that had ignored them. This is the logical outcome of the voters' temper tantrum.
And, before we stop there, let's also point out that neither the Republican nor the Democrat establishment could stop Donald Trump and the voter temper tantrum and perhaps they should be a bit more introspective about why voters threw a temper tantrum in the first place. Screaming "they're racist" is baloney and does not even begin to address what really happened in 2016.
Next, the Trump voter reaction to this is to think it is not true, waive it all away, decide they don't care, or conclude there really is a deep state coup against the President. I really do wonder if the media has not been 100% hostile to the President from day one and so focused on scandal from day one if the President's base might treat this with a bit more credibility. You know, many of the pundits and reporters screaming about a constitutional crisis have been screaming about a constitutional crisis since before the Inauguration when they were trying to get the Electoral College to reject the will of the people of their various states. They have cried wolf so much that it is hard to get anyone to believe them now.
I see a lot of people calling this person a coward. But if they’re really convinced they’re helping steer the President away from his worst impulses, they think they’re doing what they need to do for the country. One of the things Trump supporters need to come to terms with is that this is the reality. President Trump is not that bright, is highly erratic, and is prone to both rapid changes of his mind and unfortunately timed outbursts. These people are not making up these stories. This is what is happening. You may like the outcome from this President, but do not confuse the outcome with a process that is on the verge of coming off the rails daily.
Writing this in the New York Times in combination with the Woodward book undermines all the staff who are trying to keep the President focused. This is only going to make the President more paranoid. The New York Times is not at fault here. The advisor is at fault and risks now undermining his own work.
Consequently, I suspect this person is now coming forward because they either intend to quit soon and want to begin rehabilitating their image and/or because they want to help lay the groundwork for impeachment with a Democrat house, which would only require a majority vote. After all, this person is pointing to events that could be questioned and vetted by a Democrat controlled House in order to build a narrative against the President that could persuade less than two dozen Republican Senators to vote with all the Democrats for impeachment.
Given the references to McCain, I suspect this person participated in the services for McCain and probably didn't like the way people reacted to him. I do think it is a him and I do think this is someone who wants to be appreciated for the services he thinks he is performing on behalf of the country.
This is not going to end well for any of us because between this and the Woodward book the President now knows that even inside his White House there are those who cannot be trusted and there are those stopping him from carrying out his agenda.
Lastly, I cannot imagine this person is going to be able to stay secret for long. I actually cannot imagine this person wants to stay secret for long. This is the writing of someone who is burned out of his job.