Has 'Anonymous,' Former Trump Official Who Penned Highly Critical NY Times Op-ed and New Book, Been Identified?

Screen Shot: https://twitter.com/danspinelli902/status/1199006060431974400
Screen Shot: https://twitter.com/danspinelli902/status/1199006060431974400

 

Who can forget the buzz last September when an anonymous op-ed, highly critical of President Trump, appeared in the New York Times? The author described himself – or herself – as a senior Trump administration official and portrayed Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Any successes, “Anonymous wrote,” came in spite of, not because of the President. The op-ed, entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” can be viewed here. Below is the opening:

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

The op-ed ends with “Anonymous” telling readers to heed the words written by John McCain in his “farewell letter.” Right.

He or she managed to maintain their anonymity – not an easy task considering how many were trying to discover it.

Last week, “Anonymous” published a new book, an expanded version of the earlier op-ed, which is called very simply “A Warning.”

The book’s release received far less attention than did the stunning 2018 op-ed. Still, it would be interesting to learn the author’s identity.

David Kusnet, a former speech writer for President Clinton, writes in The New Republic that he may have figured it out.

Kusnet reminds us  it was he who discovered that Joe Klein was the anonymous writer behind the 1996 novel, “Primary Colors,” based on President Clinton’s first presidential campaign. “When The Baltimore Sun asked me to review “Primary Colors,” I read the book carefully and couldn’t help noticing that it read just like Joe Klein’s pieces in Newsweek and, before that, New York magazine.” He goes on to describe the “tells” that he recognized between the book and Klein’s previous writings.

Kusnet believes the current “Anonymous” is a man by the name of Guy Snodgrass.

I suspect, based on my own close reading of the text, that the author is an apolitical retired Navy commander who became chief speechwriter for former Defense Secretary James Mattis…

Having closely read A Warning and the original op-ed, as well as Holding the Line, Snodgrass’s recent memoir of two years with Mattis, I find that my instincts tell me that the same person wrote both books. Why did I suspect Snodgrass enough to buy his book? First, A Warning and the original op-ed both read like they were written by a speechwriter. They both feature short sentences and one-line paragraphs, the frequent use of alliteration, and “reversible raincoat” constructions (Lincoln had a “team of rivals,” Trump has “rival teams”). The two texts also repeat the same words or phrases but in different contexts (as in, “The United States can have an open door without having open borders.”) These tics all reflect a speechwriter’s mandate of writing for the ear as well as the eye.

He describes many other similarities between the two. And he also identifies areas where Snodgrass differs from the “anonymous” profile.

To be sure, Snodgrass isn’t a perfect fit for Anonymous’s public profile. He wasn’t a White House official, did not work during Trump’s transition (as Anonymous hints he or she did), resigned his job before many events described in the book, and would not have been present at many White House meetings. But compared to other widely rumored suspects whose backgrounds I researched, Snodgrass checks three boxes: He can write. He knows and cares about national security—a major theme of A Warning. And, to borrow from his description of Mattis, he is “a badass” who eventually offended his hero and won a pre-publication battle with the Pentagon over the release of Holding the Line.

Snodgrass, aware of Kusnet’s article, did not confirm or deny it. Instead, he posted the following tweet.

When Dan Spinelli, a reporter at Mother Jones asked Snodgrass if the rumor was true. Snodgrass, who texted back, “Fun.” When I pressed him on whether it was true, he replied, “No comment at this time.”