As a European this essay is an amazing read. I'm not at all surprised by the content, I've long suspected these people exist. I am however surprised that this person chose to publish this, because it's going to be enormously counter-productive, in that Trump is now aware that some of his closest are working against him. I have so many questions, and without a chance to get them answered, I have speculation.
My first reaction was that this seemed like a huge mistake by whoever wrote it, but after giving it some thought, maybe not. Let's have a look at who would benefit by publishing this:
1. Mike Pence
As has been pointed out, the writing sounds suspiciously like the vice president. If the president was to be removed, for example by invoking the 25th amendment, Pence would become president, and thus would have a lot to gain from it. The essay even mentions this possibility:
Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.
Just by mentioning it, especially in an essay this person knows will be the most talked about piece of writing this week, they get more people talking about this possibility. In combination with Trump being guaranteed to act even more crazy over the next weeks, this essay might actually be what sets in motion the invocation of the 25th amendment, making Pence the new president.
2. Someone who hates Mike Pence
As has been pointed out, the writing sounds suspiciously like the vice president. Surely the he would know to hide his tracks better? Someone is going to point out to Trump that this sounds like Pence, and the president is going to be furious. Whoever really wrote this, Pence is going to feel the consequences.
Recent polls show the Democrats up by double digits, with midterm elections just two months away. In all likelihood the midterms will be a disaster for Republicans. (Never take anything for granted though. Remember to vote!) By posting this, they're telling the people out there that it's safe to vote for the reds despite Trump, because the republicans are perfectly able to control Trump's foul impulses. They don't need a Democrat-controlled house to do that.
The author may still have been Pence, just with "nobler" ideals behind it. Or it may still have been written by someone pretending to be Pence, because he's the only one Trump can't fire.
Since this essay was posted anonymously, it's impossible to verify, and therefore provides excellent fodder for Trump's campaign against the free press. If the New York Times actually was to post fabricated news to harm the president, this is exactly how they'd do it. That's the way this will be presented to Trump's cultists, and they're going to eat it up, galvanising them against the free press. That's going to be useful when the Mueller investigation steadily gets closer to him.
5. Anyone in the administration (other than Trump) hoping for a political career after 2020.
Someone has pointed out that this essay may be a sign of the imminent collapse of the Trump administration. If that was to happen, one way to avoid the fallout would be to publish such an essay beforehand, then publish proof of authorship after the collapse. That way this person can claim that they were not to blame for any of the disastrous things done by the Trump administration. On the contrary, they're a hero for preventing something much worse! #AnonymousEssayWriter2020
Let me hear, which option is your money on?