Top members of Donald Trump's administration are so alarmed by the president's "erratic" and "amoral" behaviour that they are actively working to undermine him, an anonymous senior official wrote in The New York Times Wednesday.
Trump immediately slammed as "gutless" the unsigned op-ed -- published a day after excerpts from bombshell book claiming that White House staff were constantly battling to rein in the president's worst impulses.
In the article entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," the official stressed they were committed to the Republican agenda, and did not side with opposition Democrats.
But, the official wrote, "we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic."
"Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations," the official wrote.
"I would know. I am one of them."
The official described a "two-track" presidency in which Trump says one thing and his staff consciously does another, for example with regard to what he called Trump's "preference for autocrats and dictators."
Staff actively worked to insulate themselves from Trump's "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" leadership style, the writer said.
"The root of the problem is the president's amorality," the official said. "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."
Trump lashed out at the author of the anonymous piece -- and at the "dishonest" Times.
"They don't like Donald Trump and I don't like them," Trump said. "So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous -- meaning gutless -- a gutless editorial -- we're doing a a great job."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders branded the piece "pathetic, reckless, and selfish" and condemned the Times for publishing it.
"Nearly 62 million people voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2016," said Sanders. "None of them voted for a gutless, anonymous source to the failing New York Times."
The unsigned piece appeared to reinforce the claims made in the new book by investigative journalist Bob Woodward, which describes a virtual cabal of high-minded White House and cabinet officials scheming to prevent Trump from taking decisions damaging to the US economy and national security.
The White House has condemned Woodward's book as "fabricated stories," and Trump called it "a work of fiction."
But the Times op-ed suggests that dissent and resistance inside Trump's White House are even deeper than Woodward described.
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.
"But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until -- one way or another -- it's over."
The New York Times acknowledged the extraordinary step of publishing such an anonymous op-ed, saying it did so at the request of the author whose identity is known to the paper.
"We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers," it wrote.