President Donald Trump has denied the news that a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security was the anonymous administrative officer behind the brusque White House attacks, saying he did not even know Miles Taylor.
“Who is Miles Taylor?” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Said he was ‘anonymous,’ but I don’t know him– never heard of him.”
Trump was on stage at a rally in Arizona when it became known that Taylor had turned out to be the insider author behind a scathing New York Times essay and subsequent book about the president that had sparked speculation throughout Washington. Both were published anonymously, with the Times describing the author as a “senior civil servant.
Wednesday’s revelation unleashed an avalanche of supporters, and White House aides rallied in defense of Trump and questioned Taylor’s short role in government and the access he would have had.
This is not the first time Trump has presented the counter-argument that he does not know one of his critics and considers him insignificant.
In 2017, Trump told reporters that he did not remember “much” about a meeting with former campaign worker George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his knowledge of attempted Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump also said he did not know of any former advisor to Vice President Mike Pence who spoke out against Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic last month.
In his statement Wednesday, Taylor said he was keeping his identity secret to draw attention to the substance and prevent his identity from being in the spotlight.
“Publishing my criticisms without attribution forced the president to answer them directly on their merits or not at all, rather than create distractions through petty insults and name-calling,” he said. “I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves.”
In 2019, Taylor was chief of staff for about nine months of the then Minister of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and her acting successor Chad Wolf. He had worked in various capacities at DHS since 2017 and joined the administration with General John Kelly, Trump’s first DHS chief of staff, who became chief of staff to the president in July 2017. Kelly has also been critical of Trump since he left the White House last year and is one of the members of the administration who is speculated to be an “anonymous” author.
Taylor has become a vocal critic of Trump in recent months and in August he supported Joe Biden’s campaign, even though he had not spoken as an “anonymous” author.
In his first essay, published under the title “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” Taylor, then Deputy Chief of Staff at DHS, wrote that members of the administration were working to actively undermine Trump for the good of the country. The follow-up book, A Warning, appeared in November 2019, shortly after he left the administration. He also went into the private sector and worked for Google.
In his public statement in which he revealed his identity, Taylor urged Republicans to choose Biden.
“The country cannot rely on well-meaning, unelected bureaucrats around the president to steer him in the right direction,” he said. “He’s cleaned up most of them anyway.”
Before Trump’s direct response, the White House and Trump’s campaign each issued statements portraying Taylor as an angry low-level aid worker.
“The American people elected President Trump to realize their vision for the country, not some arrogant Deep State agent trying to put his agenda ahead of the president’s America First policies,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley, whose tenure at the White House overlapped with Taylor’s tenure at DHS, noted that Taylor had denied being the anonymous author during an appearance on CNN in August.
“He’s just another arrogant, arrogant swamp brother from Washington, DC who loved President Trump until he found out he could try to make money by attacking him,” Gidley said.