Top aides to Donald Trump have denied authorship of an anonymous New York Times opinion column that attacked the US President's leadership style and described "a quiet resistance" to him within his own administration.
Seven senior officials disowned the article, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, while criticising both the author for writing it and the NYT for publishing it.
The opinion column, published yesterday, prompted the president to hit back at the anonymous writer and the news outlet, and further fuelled accusations by critics that Mr Trump was unstable and unfit for the presidency.
The New York Times said it kept the author's name secret because the official's job would be jeopardised by its disclosure, calling it a rare step.
Many senior officials in the administration have been working from within to frustrate parts of his agenda to protect the country from his worst impulses, the alleged anonymous Trump official wrote.
The article sparked a guessing game in Washington about whether the author worked within the White House or a government agency, and raised questions of whether other officials may come forward, step down or be fired.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who previously served as Mr Trump's CIA Director, said he was not the author and slammed the New York Times for publishing the piece.
"It's not mine," Mr Pompeo told reporters during a trip to New Delhi, India.
"If it's accurate ... they should not well have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor's word for anything and put it in their newspaper."
A spokesman for US Vice President Mike Pence's office also criticised the newspaper and said Mr Pence does not write anonymous opinion columns.
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"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts," Mr Pence’s spokesman Jarrod Agen said on Twitter.
Mr Trump has called the anonymous writer "gutless" and raised the spectre of treason, and urged the newspaper to identify the person to the government for national security purposes.
The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2018
"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they dont know what to do," he said in an post on Twitter early this morning.
"Im draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Dont worry, we will win!" he said earlier on Twitter.
The official wrote: "Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment," but decided against it to avoid a constitutional crisis.
The comment is likely to resurrect talk among some Democrats about potentially impeaching the president should they take control of the US House of Representatives in November elections.