Very quickly after the op-ed was posted on the Times website, D.C. very quickly plunged into a guessing game over the identity of the administration official, who used the pronoun "he" in a tweet, indicating that the writer is male.
Dao said he had published a few other anonymous pieces during his tenure as op-ed editor, which began in early 2016.
That someone who not only works for him but is in a high-ranking position within his administration would have the gall to write something like the Times op-ed will make Trump bananas.
"You have somebody stealing something off the president's desk in order to prevent him from making a decision", said Kerry, who served under President Barack Obama.
"It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room", the author continued.
"We fully recognize what is happening", the anonymous author said. The administration found in Woodward's book is one racked with anxiety over the president's erratic behaviors, where everyone is a potential target of Trump's belittlement.
"We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers", it wrote.
The official claims that there have been successes which have come despite - not because of - the president's leadership style, which is described as "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective".
"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going insane - & they don't know what to do", Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. "It was not his op-ed", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
In the damaging editorial, the official alleged that in public and in private, Trump showed preference to autocrats and dictators such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and displayed little genuine appreciation for ties that bind the U.S. to allied and like-minded nations.
Asked by reporters at the White House whether he was considering replacing Mattis, Trump said: "He'll stay right there".
The White House has called for the resignation of the senior administration official who wrote the piece.
It wasn't immediately clear which apology Sanders was referring to, but she said the anonymous op-ed is "just another example of the liberal media's concerted effort to discredit the President". She also accuses the individual of putting himself or herself ahead of the will of the American people.
"While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility", Mattis said of Woodward's book. However, Trump has tweeted statements from several (John Kelly, James Mattis, and Sarah Sanders) denying some information in the book - such Chief of Staff John Kelly calling Trump an idiot. The Times identifies the author as a senior official known to the newspaper. That speaks to the writer either being in the White House or having access to people who are there regularly.
Mr Trump lashed out at the author of the anonymous piece - and at the "dishonest" Times.