WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Many senior officials in the Trump administration have been working from within to frustrate parts of the president's agenda to protect the country from his worst inclinations, an anonymous Trump official wrote in a column published by the New York Times on Wednesday.
In the piece, the official described "early whispers" among members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet to take steps to remove him as president, but added they decided against it to avoid a constitutional crisis.
The Times took what it called the rare step of publishing an opinion column by the official under an agreement to keep the author's name secret. It said the senior administration's official's job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.
Asked about the column during a White House event, Trump called it a "gutless editorial," bashed the New York Times as "failing," and ticked off economic achievements that he said were proof of his leadership. Staring into the cameras, he said: "Nobody is going to come close to beating me in 2020 because of what we've done."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders issued a statement calling the author a coward and demanding the person resign.
The opinion piece followed publication on Tuesday of the first excerpts from a damaging book by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post describing chaos in the White House.
"Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. 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 official wrote in the Times piece.
Under the 25th Amendment, adopted in 1967, the vice president and a majority of either Cabinet officials or "such other body as Congress may by law provide" may declare in writing that the president "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
It has never been used to strip a president from power and it would be a complicated process.
"We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous," the writer said. "But 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," the author wrote.
Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason Editing by Howard Goller