The coup of publishing a column by an anonymous Trump administration official bashing the boss could backfire on The New York Times if the author is unmasked and turns out to be a little-known person, or if the newspaper's own reporters solve the puzzle.
When does the book by Bob Woodward about Trump come out?
"The relationship has nowhere to go but down, fast", the official said.
That mix of motivations, which has been an open secret in Washington for many months, gained wider public prominence this week as Trump responded angrily and forcefully to the op-ed as well as similar revelations in a forthcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward.
For many in Mr Trump's orbit, it is stunning to realise just how many people could have been the author of the piece.
Woodward's book - "Fear: Trump in the White House" - is to be released next week.
He adds: "Further, I did not refer to the President as a "liar" and did not say that he was likely to end up in an 'orange jump suit'". "That can be fixed", Trump said.
Mattis says the notion that he would "show contempt" for Trump or "tolerate disrespect" to the office of the President of the United States "is a product of someone's rich imagination".
"You can, in an nearly microscopic way, establish what occurred - and that's what I've done in this book".
Woodward's revelations were supported by the article in The New York Times published anonymously on Wednesday, which said "unsung heroes" were quietly working within the administration to frustrate the president's "worst inclinations".
It's a term used loosely around the White House.
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Riot police observing from the sidelines charged the marchers with raised batons when some tried to rush through the barriers. Navalny didn't take part in the protests, as he's now serving a 30-day sentence for violating public demonstration laws.
The publication of Woodward's book has been anticipated for weeks, and current and former White House officials estimate that almost all their colleagues cooperated with the famed Watergate journalist.
Sanders wouldn't rule out a lawsuit against Woodward on Monday, though Trump has long threatened legal action against his detractors that never materializes.
"This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes", Kelly said.
Asked if Trump is still a credible voice, Sanders insisted he was: "Absolutely". Woodward said Jackson would later tell Chief of Staff John Kelly that he was concerned about the president's stress levels and suggested cutting back his schedule. Dowd, who stepped down in January, resigned after the mock interview, the book says.
Woodward's book is a tragicomic catalogue of life in a White House lorded over by an apparently unmoored president, even as top officials such as former economic adviser Gary Cohn snatched potentially destructive documents off the president's desk so he wouldn't sign them.
Woodward reported that after Syria's Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted the Syrian leader taken out, saying: "Kill him!" If I weren't here, I believe The New York Times probably wouldn't even exist, ' he said, later adding: 'They don't like Donald Trump and I don't like them because they're very dishonest people'.
Woodward is best known for his reporting with the Washington Post that uncovered the Watergate scandal, which led to President Richard Nixon's downfall.
They pretend there is a normal president in the White House instead of, let's be honest, a maniac.
Anonymous sources: it's a hot topic, thrust back in the national spotlight this week and in the crosshairs of President Trump.
On Amazon, Woodward's new book was ranked as the top-selling book on Tuesday.