An op-ed piece published in the New York Times on Wednesday, titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," and written by someone who was only identified by the publication as "a senior official in the Trump administration," created quite a stir online and inside the White House. Soon after the op-ed was published, multiple news outlets started scrambling to unveil the identity of the writer.

Needless to say, President Donald Trump was not happy:

The anonymous government official talked about how people within the “erratic” Trump’s own administration were secretly hatching a plan to thwart the president’s "more misguided impulses.” 

What is known about the anonymous official so far

The term “a senior official” could extend to anyone in the White House, the cabinet or the National Security Council, hence it is difficult to narrow it down to one person. Although a tweet from the Times specified the gender of the writer, the publication retracted it a little while later.

“In an anonymous Op-Ed, a senior Trump administration official says he and others are working to frustrate the president's 'misguided impulses’,” the tweet said.

Soon after, Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the Times, said the tweet was "drafted by someone who is not aware of the author's identity.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, went on Fox News and said while it was possible that the writer actually worked in the West Wing, there was also a fair chance that he did not.

“It’s not clear to us anyway that it’s somebody in the White House. It says ‘senior administration official,’ that could be many people. There are I think thousands of political appointees, hundreds of folks that would qualify under that title alone,” she said.

Discussion over the writer’s governmental post and whether it was important enough for the Times to grant him anonymity also raged on social media.

So what is really known about the anonymous official? Not much.

The author praises the Trump administration for "effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more,” but goes on to criticize the POTUS for not being a traditional conservative.

"The president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people,” the anonymous official wrote.

Since the op-ed piece was published soon after the Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward’s book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," was released, people have also speculated if the Times article was a publicity stunt to boost sales of the book. However, there has been no evidence to suggest a tie-in.

Possible contenders

Although the identity of the writer has been successfully kept under tight wraps, here are some of the names that have emerged as possible contenders, as reported by CNN:

Kellyanne Conway

While Conway has rarely spoken out against the president on a public platform, she is someone familiar with the inner workings of the White House. When Conway appeared on national television to reiterate she had no idea who the writer was, her husband, George Conway, who has a history of trolling Trump on social media, retweeted a link to the Times article.

According to a Washington Post report, George was a member of a “semi-secret” group of conservatives named the “Meeting of the Concerned” who despised Trump.

John Kelly

Although he denied the rumors when it first surfaced in April, claims that Trump’s Chief Of Staff John Kelly called the president an “idiot” resurfaced in Woodward’s book.

Woodward said Kelly made the following statement in a small meeting: "He's an idiot. It's pointless to try to convince him of anything. He's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had."

However, Kelly once again denied it on Wednesday.

James Mattis

Woodward’s book also claimed that Defense Secretary James Mattis was frustrated at Trump’s lack of knowledge about the nation’s national security policies, "telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'"

During a meeting in January, Trump questioned Mattis about why the U.S. was spending money and military resources in the Korean Peninsula. “We're doing this in order to prevent World War III,” replied Mattis.

Mattis has denied the allegations made against him in the book:

Dan Coats

The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has often been critical of the president in the past. On Trump's invitation to Putin to the U.S., he once sarcastically commented, “That is going to be special.”

Nikki Haley

The issue of the president’s cordial relationship with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has also drawn the ire of UN ambassador Nikki Haley. She announced fresh sanctions against Russia in April following an alleged chemical attack by Syria's Assad regime — while the Trump administration had decided against it, Digg reported. 

To contain the situation, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that "she got ahead of the curve... There might have been some momentary confusion on that." To this, Haley replied during an interview, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”