The attorney for a former White House official falsely accused of being the anti-President Trump persona “Anonymous” lashed out on Thursday at the New York Times for perpetrating a “hoax.”
Cleta Mitchell represents Victoria Coates, former National Security Council deputy director who moved to the Department of Energy as a special adviser to the secretary. Based on anonymous sources, a Real Clear Investigations story in April accused her of being the nameless provocateur.
The New York Times ballyhooed Anonymous in a 2018 op-ed, identifying the person as a “senior official in the Trump administration.”
The column disrupted the White House staff — perhaps its intent — as Trump aides wondered who was the betrayer. Actually, it was no one near.
Anonymous revealed himself this week as Miles Taylor. Far from a senior official, Mr. Taylor at the time was an adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. In other words, he was a policy bureaucrat with little access to President Trump or the Cabinet, on which he claimed inside information.
Ms. Mitchell told The Washington Times Mr. Taylor is a “total creep.”
“Those who participated in this hoax should be shunned, starting with the New York Times, the publisher, and all concerned,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Those of us who support the president are sick of these quislings and just hope they are all purged and replaced for the next four years.”
Mr. Taylor, who later wrote a book savaging the president, is a “Never Trumper” — that is a Republican from the George W. Bush era working against Mr. Trump.
He served briefly as DHS chief of staff, leaving the department in 2019 and eventually joining CNN as an analyst. In August, he pointedly lied to anchor Anderson Cooper by denying he was Anonymous.
“Anonymous turns out to be a low level functionary who hardly merited the breathless attention paid him during his 15-minutes of fame,” Ms. Mitchell told The Times. “Clearly, had he written and published in his real name, no one would have paid the slightest bit of attention. Anonymous is still basically anonymous.”
She said the repercussions of what Mr. Taylor and the New York Times hurt a number of people.
“His antics spawned many false statements and accusations against others,” she said. “Innocent and dedicated public servants within the Administration who are loyal to the President and would never dream of behaving like Anonymous has behaved. Anonymous inflicted harm and pain on those people and he should publicly apologize. In short, he is a total creep.”
Hit hardest was Ms. Coates.
On April 15, Real Clear Investigations published a story titled, “Here’s ‘Anonymous,’ Trump Aides Say Here’s How They Outed Her.”
“After an exhaustive investigation, the White House believes it’s cracked the case, identifying Trump’s turncoat as his former deputy national security adviser, Victoria Coates, according to people familiar with the internal probe,” said the article by Paul Sperry.
As a steadfast backer of Mr. Trump, Ms. Coates has always been baffled by the allegation. Those around her assured The Washington Times she was definitely not Anonymous.
“Her security clearance was elevated for her new position after she left the White House and moved to DOE,” Ms. Mitchell said. “She told Paul Sperry that before he published his false article. He had not one source who would go on the record naming her and he had at least three who told him it was a false accusation. But he wrote the story anyway.”
Ms. Coates tweeted at Tom Bevan, the editor of the Real Clear Political and Investigations web sites, “Are you going to publish a retraction for this embarrassment?”
She attached the question to Mr. Bevan’s tweet in April promoting the story that targeted her.
In February, the White House issued a statement: “The White House leadership rejects rumors that have circulated recently and does not put any stock in the suggestion that Victoria Coates is the author of Anonymous: A Warning or the related Op-Ed in the New York Times. Dr. Coates’ transition to the Department of Energy has been in the works for several weeks and reflects the continued trust and confidence the Administration places in her as she takes on this sensitive role at the Department of Energy, where she will continue working to implement the President’s agenda.”
Ms. Coates said in a statement: “I’m pleased that the bizarre and malicious allegation that I am. ‘Anonymous’ has finally been definitively refuted. This nonsense has been an unfortunate distraction from the actual work that all of us who are around to serve President Trump and help implement his agenda should be focused on.”
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