The Trump administration is still reeling after The New York Times' extraordinary anonymous op-ed claiming that a secret "resistance" is working "from within" to protect America from its commander in chief.

The question on everybody's lips is still: whodunit?

The remarkable piece details how the author, identified only as a senior White House official, is conspiring with others inside the Trump administration to "thwart" the US President's "worst inclinations".

The unsigned opinion column has sent Donald Trump on a "volcanic" rampage — both on Twitter and reportedly through the White House corridors — calling for the "gutless" author to turn themselves in while his aides grapple with the fallout and scramble to get to the bottom of those responsible.

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A top White House official told CNN statements of denial from Trump's staff were being printed out and delivered to the President as they came in.

The only problem is, according to one administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity: "It could be so many people.

"You can't rule it down to one person. Everyone is trying, but it's impossible."

One ex-White House official in close contact with former colleagues said: "It's like the horror movies when everyone realises the call is coming from inside the house," the Washington Post reports.

And so, while the internet continues a hilarious game of Cluedo — with everyone from the Easter Bunny to First Lady Melania Trump having the finger pointed at them — here's a long list of people who might actually be the author of the bombshell article.

President Donald Trump is fuming over the op-ed piece and is on the hunt to find out who did it. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump is fuming over the op-ed piece and is on the hunt to find out who did it. Photo / AP

'THE DEEP STATE'

Just one of a host of familiar targets that Mr Trump lashed out at in the hours after the scathing piece hit the internet.

"The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy — & they don't know what to do," he tweeted, highlighting the country's strong economy at the same time.

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However the author seemed to anticipate this reaction from the American leader, claiming the individual is part of the so-called "deep state" which conservatives often say is undermining their leader.

"This isn't the work of the so-called deep state," the author writes. "It's the work of the steady state."

JEFF SESSIONS

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo / AP
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo / AP

Jeff Sessions makes the list of possible authors for the simple reason that he has a motive.

Trump has continuously waged a strikingly public campaign against his embattled Attorney-General; just this week it emerged that the US President has referred to him as "mentally retarded" and a "dumb Southerner", according to the new tell-all book Fear: Trump In The White House by legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

The timing couldn't be more perfect.

MIKE PENCE

Vice President Mike Pence. Photo / AP
Vice President Mike Pence. Photo / AP

While we may never know who was behind the explosive op-ed, an archaic word that features in the article has led internet sleuths to suggest Mike Pence may be a leading suspect. "Lodestar", meaning a star that is used to guide the course of a ship, happens to be a word that US Vice President Mike Pence has used several times in speeches over the years.

A homage to John McCain at the end of The New York Times op-ed reads: "We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honour to public life and our national dialogue. Mr Trump may fear such honourable men, but we should revere them."

Not exactly concrete evidence, but certainly intriguing. Or perhaps somebody else wrote it and used "lodestar" as a distraction?

On Thursday, Mr Pence's deputy chief of staff and communications director Jarrod Agen forcefully denied that the US vice president had anything to do with it.

Pence was particularly vociferous, calling the Times' decision to publish the op-ed "a new low in American journalism".

"I think it's a disgrace," he said. "I think The New York Times should be ashamed and I think whoever wrote this anonymous editorial should be ashamed as well."

JIM MATTIS

Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. Photo / AP
Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. Photo / AP

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also distanced himself from the scandal, despite being named on CNN's list of 13 possible authors.

"If anyone has less to lose than Mattis — he is a decorated military man serving his country again — it's hard to figure out who that would be," the CNN article reasons.

Dana White, spokeswoman for Mattis, simply responded: "It was not his op-ed."

MIKE POMPEO

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo / AP
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo / AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was one of a string of denials to emerge on Thursday. While travelling in India, he told reporters simply: "It's not mine.

"It is sad that you have someone who would make that choice," Pompeo said, referring to suggestions that he could be behind the article. "I come from a place where, if you're not in a position to execute the commander's intent, you have a singular option — that is to leave."

Pompeo also blamed the publication of the detrimental op-ed on a media which is trying to undermine Trump.

KELLYANNE CONWAY

Counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway. Photo / AP
Counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway. Photo / AP

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway had the chance to publicly deny writing the infamous op-ed on national television — she didn't.

Appearing on Fox News late on Wednesday, local time, Ms Conway pointed out that it could be any one of more than a hundred people, even suggesting the official might not actually be working in the White House.

Wannabe detectives were also quick to point out that her husband, George Conway, is notorious for despising the Trump administration and regularly trolls him on Twitter.

JARED KUSHNER AND IVANKA TRUMP

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump. Photo / AP
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump. Photo / AP
White House Adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Photo / AP
White House Adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Photo / AP

An outcome that involved "Javanka" being in any way a part of the "secret resistance" working in Washington to undermine their own family member stems from our wildest reality TV dreams.

Interestingly, both White House advisers are yet to comment on the jaw-dropping article.

MELANIA TRUMP

President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump. Photo / AP

Perhaps we've all been watching too much House Of Cards, but let's not forget the US First Lady is known to send a message when she feels very strongly about something.

She all but broke the internet with her "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO YOU?" jacket earlier this year and has publicly disagreed with her husband on a number of issues in recent months.

However Mrs Trump personally weighed in on the op-ed controversy, saying in a statement: "[If] a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words."

She also dramatically accused the anonymous writer of "sabotaging" the country.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo / AP
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo / AP

US press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed her boss's scathing reaction to the article, calling on the anonymous official to send in their resignation.

"He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign," Sanders said.

The only possible giveaway here could be that Sanders referred to the mystery author as "he", despite the Times refusing to reveal their gender.

She also took to Twitter slamming the media for what she called a "wild obsession", urging the public to contact the Times opinion desk to learn the identity of the "gutless loser", including the phone number.

There are now calls for Sanders to be fired for "misusing her official position".

HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW

Jim Dao, The New York Times op-ed page editor, has been careful not to share a single, identifying detail about the author, not even their gender.

However he did comment in a follow-up interview on the Times podcast The Daily that the intermediary who contacted him from within the White House was someone "who I trust and I know well".

"They told me that there was this individual in the Trump administration who was very interested in writing an op-ed, and would I want to see it?

"I almost always say, 'Yes, I'm interested in looking at things, and we'll take it from there.'"

Dao also said he was contacted "several days ago", declining to be more specific.

A conversation took place between top editors at the Times about protecting the author by granting them anonymity.

"Senior official in the Trump administration," remains the only description.

Dao said there are only a "very small number of people within the Times who know this person's identity" but declined to name them.

"We have taken a number of special precautions to protect the person's identity," he said.

The op-ed dropped during the same week that the excerpts from Bob Woodward's book Fear: Trump In The White House have revived conversations about Trump's behaviour and fitness for office.

Dao said: "This is a coincidence."

The frantic hunt and wild speculation continues.