“This low-level, disgruntled former staffer is a liar and a coward who chose anonymity over action and leaking over leading,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said shortly after Taylor went public.
Other top Trump officials also took turns teeing off on Taylor.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called it a “monumental embarrassment” on Twitter and joked that “I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes.”
Hogan Gidley, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement: “This is the least impressive, lamest political ‘reveal’ of all time. He’s just another standard-issue arrogant, Washington, DC swamp bro who loved President Trump until he figured out he could try to make money by attacking him.”
On Wednesday, Taylor said he felt a duty to voters to drop the pseudonym and end one of the major lines of criticism levied against his writings.
“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,” Taylor wrote in a statement posted on Medium. “I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves.”
Under the Anonymous moniker, Taylor penned a 2018 New York Times op-ed claiming to be “part of the resistance inside the Trump administration,” an essay that set off a torrent within the White House and other parts of the federal government to root out the individual and other members of the so-called Deep State.
After the editorial was first published, Trump called the author “gutless” for doing so under the cloak of anonymity and unleashed a series of attacks against Anonymous and the newspaper for publishing it, including floating the idea that the person was treasonous.
Trump responded to Taylor‘s reveal by firing off a two-part tweet saying he had “never even heard of him“ — a line he’s used against other employees and staffers who have criticized him — and called him a “sleazebag“ during a campaign rally in Arizona.
“Just another @nytimes SCAM — he worked in conjunction with them,“ Trump wrote, while noting Taylor‘s work with CNN and Google. “They should fire, shame, and punish everybody…. associated with this FRAUD on the American people!“
Taylor responded by posting pictures of himself in the Oval Office with Trump for a signing ceremony.
“I remember you, all too well,“ he posted. “And I will continue shining a light on your failed presidency through the election—and beyond.“
Taylor as Anonymous later parlayed that into a book released last year titled “A Warning,” which quickly became a bestseller. Trump officials shrugged off the book prior to its release as merely a collection of previously reported episodes. But its impact was blunted by critical reviews — including in The Times — and diminished in importance as a constellation of disaffected former aides and others in Trump’s orbit have published scathing accounts of their experiences without cloaking their names.
“Miles Taylor has been a great publishing partner and we support Miles and the true act of political courage it took to tell his story,” the book’s publisher, Sean Desmond, said in a statement.
Taylor was elevated to DHS chief of staff in February 2019, placing the promotion after the editorial but before the book was announced. Prior to that he was deputy chief of staff at DHS and a “counselor/senior adviser” to the DHS secretary at the time, John Kelly.
Guessing Anonymous’ true identity became a political parlor game in some circles, echoing the speculation of the author of the 1996 roman à clef “Primary Colors” and Watergate informant Deep Throat. (They have since been revealed to be political reporter Joe Klein and Associate FBI Director Mark Felt, respectively.)
Taylor outright denied being the anonymous writer in an August interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. (He joined the network as a contributor in September.)
“I’ve got my own thoughts about who that might be,” Taylor said at the time, prompting Cooper to ask directly whether he was the source. “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloween and pandemics. So, no.”
However, the guessing game and amateur sleuthing put unwanted attention on a number of top officials whom some suspected to be the author. Cabinet secretaries and others publicly denied being Anonymous, and aides like Victoria Coates faced career reprisals from colleagues who thought she might be the author.
As Anonymous, Taylor said the pivotal event that turned him off of Trump was when the president balked at ordering the American flag to be lowered to half-staff after Sen. John McCain died in August 2018. (They later were, in tribute to the senator and war hero.)
In his statement on Wednesday, Taylor denied using anonymity as a way to gin up sales interest in his writings — one of the charges frequently levied against Klein and his fictionalized account of the Bill Clinton campaign — saying he “declined a hefty monetary advance and pledged to donate the bulk of the proceeds.
“I’ve tried to convey as best I can — based on my own experience — how Donald Trump has made America less safe, less certain of its identity and destiny, and less united,” Taylor wrote.