Yet the news would have been an anticlimax no matter who Anonymous had been, because in retrospect, Taylor’s Times column was the high-water mark of internal resistance to Trump. The premise of the piece was that supposedly upright citizens had the power to keep the president from committing his most egregious violations. Instead, time has proved the opposite: When Trump wanted to do something, there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. The only thing that could deter the president was his own short attention span and lack of managerial competence.

I wrote at the time of the op-ed that internal sabotage was no way to behave in a country that values the rule of law. Unelected officials can (and should) refuse orders that they believe to be unconstitutional or wrong, but they must do so openly and risk being fired, rather than using cloak-and-dagger methods; otherwise, they undermine the rule of law in the name of preserving it. It turns out that this form of resistance was not only morally and politically questionable; it was also futile, as Taylor admitted in a statement today.

“I was wrong,” he wrote, “about one major assertion in my original op-ed. The country cannot rely on well-intentioned, unelected bureaucrats around the President to steer him toward what’s right. He has purged most of them anyway.”

This has been the pattern throughout the administration, in which officials who resisted Trump’s worst impulses (usually by accommodating other bad ones) have been pushed out, and replaced with hackish loyalists with few qualifications save an unstinting loyalty to the president.