Who Really Cares About “Anonymous?”
The mysterious writer’s book caused an uproar, but the revelation of his identity was underwhelming.
Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirmed Wednesday that he was the anonymous senior official to President Donald Trump’s administration who wrote a seething 2018 New York Times op-ed piece and a subsequent book condemning the president’s character while in public office.
“Much has been made of the fact that these writings were published anonymously,” Taylor, who fled the administration last year, wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “The decision wasn’t easy, I wrestled with it, and I understand why some people consider it questionable to levy such serious charges against a sitting President under the cover of anonymity.”
His outing of himself raises several questions. Was he simply exploiting his anonymity for extra publicity? Numerous top Trump officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis were suspected of being the culprit. It now turns out that it was not a high-level official, but a self-important one announcing a grandiose crusade. Second, why did the New York Times grant Taylor such anonymity? Was it simply for the clicks?
Taylor, who served as a top aide to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, stayed laser-focused on Trump’s character and decisions in leading the country in his lengthy statement on Wednesday. The statement emphasized he was a member of the “resistance” within the Trump administration to out the president’s worst intentions. Taylor also noted that he wanted to remain anonymous to ensure the president would respond to the attacks presented in the pieces, rather than pivot to who coined them.
“But my reasoning was straightforward, and I stand by it,” he continued. “Issuing my critiques without attribution forced the President to answer them directly on their merits or not at all, rather than creating distractions through petty insults and name-calling. I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves.”
After his time on Capitol Hill, Taylor recently endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden and leads an anti-Trump Republican coalition.
“Although former Vice President Joe Biden is likely to pursue progressive reforms that conservatives oppose (and rest assured, we will challenge them in the loyal opposition), his policy agenda cannot equal the damage done by the current President to the fabric of our Republic,” Taylor wrote.
The White House blasted Taylor after he endorsed Trump’s political opponent, as the president labeled him as a “disgruntled employee.”
“I am a Republican, and I wanted this president to succeed,” Taylor added. “But too often in times of crisis, Donald Trump has proven he is a man without character, and his personal defects have resulted in leadership failures so significant that they can be measured in lost American lives.”
When the Times op-ed piece ran in September 2018, it ignited a firestorm in the White House, as the president demanded an internal investigation to determine the source behind the writings, but rumors swirled for months and the author remained unknown.
A year later, the then-anonymous individual published a book titled “A Warning” that dubbed the president as an “undisciplined” leader who could potentially put the foundations of American democracy in jeopardy. But the book received backlash, as the source still remained anonymous.
“When I left the administration, I wrote ‘A Warning,’ a character study of the current commander in chief and a caution to voters that it wasn’t as bad as it looked inside the Trump administration—it was worse,” Taylor wrote.
During his time at the DHS after resigning in June 2019, Taylor worked with the president on issues including immigration cybersecurity and terrorism. In particular, the DHS overlooked the zero-tolerance policy amid Taylor’s term, that separated thousands of migrant families, with some children still apart from their parents.
Top Trump administration officials have taken to Twitter to react to the unraveling, with chief of staff Mark Meadows saying, “You have got to be kidding me. Miles Taylor? That’s who the New York Times granted an anonymous editorial article? I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes. What a monumental embarrassment.”
“This is everything people hate about Washington—two-faced liars who push their own agendas at the expense of the People,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted, referring to Taylor denying he was “Anonymous” back in August.
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.