The New York Times published an anonymous opinion piece purported to be written by a high-level member of the Trump administration. In general, the claims made within the piece correspond to the publicly available evidence and match up with what Bob Woodward writes in Fear. As such, there is little reason to doubt the contents of the essay—though one might raise questions about the true motives behind it. Rather than focus on motives, I will focus on the ethical concerns raised by the work.
The author claims that Trump is amoral and incompetent (which matches the available evidence), thus necessitating that top officials minimize his impact by running what amounts to a shadow government. The author casts these officials in a heroic light—they are acting to protect America against a deranged, ignorant, and barely functional President.
From a moral standpoint, a case can be made that the author is acting correctly. The easy way to do this is on utilitarian grounds: by negating Trump’s worst behavior, they prevent greater harms from taking place and are thus acting morally. As always, there is a utilitarian alternative: this approach could create more harm than good. For example, this approach could undermine faith in the political system. There is also the matter of writing the essay—by revealing what they are allegedly doing, they have warned Trump and thus undercut their own efforts.
It can, and should, also be argued that if the description of Trump is accurate, then the author should not engage in shadow sabotage. Rather, the author and their allies should make use of the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office. The author claims that this was considered but was rejected to avoid a constitutional crisis. As others have argued, following the Constitution would not be a constitutional crisis and is certainly on far better legal ground then the shadow government the author admits to being part of. From a moral standpoint, following this due process is superior to the shadow government approach. After all, the shadow government approach violates the social contract that justifies the authority of the state. This could, however, be countered by arguing that the attempt to use the 25th Amendment would fail while also exposing the shadow government. This would leave Trump in the Presidency without the mitigating influence of people who are less amoral and more competent than Trump (which is a shockingly low bar). As such, this approach could be morally justified. That said, it might be objected that this approach is fundamentally misguided, and the real concern should be focused on the ethics of loyalty.
The gist of the moral argument is that the author of the piece and their fellows should be loyal to Trump and this is a betrayal of that loyalty. Trump, many claim, values loyalty. This is, obviously enough, not true. Trump does not value the virtue of loyalty—he does not exhibit this virtue towards others (the cases of adultery are but one set of examples). Trump, rather, thinks that people should act in his interest even at the expense of their own—which is what he thinks is loyalty. Since loyalty is a two-way relationship, Trump does not have the moral ground on which to claim loyalty. As such, it makes little sense to say that Trump was betrayed—he is not a person who operates within the context of the virtue of loyalty. If this argument is rejected, I have yet another loyalty argument.
As noted, Trump sees loyalty in terms of others acting in his interest even at the expense of their own without any obligation to reciprocate on his part. He, all the evidence shows, thinks that the administration officials should be loyal to him (as he defines the term). See, for example, his rage at Jeff Sessions. What Trump fails or refuses to understand is that the United States is not a monarchy or an authoritarian state in which officials owe their loyalty to the ruler. Rather, the United States is a constitutional republic in which the loyalty of public officials is expected to be to the Constitution. Officials and soldiers do not swear fealty to Trump the man; they swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. While the author of the piece probably thinks that they are acting in accord with this sort of loyalty, a strong case can be made that they are not. The easy and obvious way to argue for this is to point out that Trump was elected President and it is their job to serve the President, not to set up an unelected shadow state—however benign their intent might be. If they cannot do their jobs in good conscience, then they should do as other honorable individuals have done and resign. If they believe that Trump is far too erratic and incompetent to be President, then they should follow the 25th Amendment. That said (and as noted above), if they believe that Trump is incapable of doing the job and they believe that the Vice President and the Republican controlled congress will do nothing (which is obviously true) then they can justify their actions on utilitarian grounds. In this case they should have not written the opinion piece—by doing so they have undercut their ability to protect the world from Trump.