The Trump administration was rocked by the publication of an anonymous New York Times op-ed that claimed key administration officials were secretly working against President Donald Trump. The article infuriated Trump — “TREASON?” he asked in a tweet — and set off a quest in Washington to find out who wrote it. Many of president’s most senior advisers rushed to deny that they were the author. Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day:
Sanders Tells Media to Call NYT Over Op-Ed (11:57 a.m.)
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a statement saying the New York Times was “the only one complicit in this deceitful act” and urging the media to contact the outlet’s opinion desk directly by phone to inquire “who this gutless loser is.”
Mnuchin, Mattis, Nielsen Deny They Wrote It (11:20 a.m.)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s press secretary tweeted that it’s ludicrous to think his boss was responsible.
“It was not his op-ed,” Dana White, spokeswoman for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters in Delhi.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “is focused on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland — not writing anonymous and false opinion pieces for the New York Times,” press secretary Tyler Houlton said in a statement.
Raphael Williams, a spokesman for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, said simply: “The Secretary didn’t write the op-ed.”
DNI Chief Coats Says He Didn’t Write It (10:23 a.m.)
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats rejected suggestions that he was the unnamed official responsible for writing the Times article.
“Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not,” Coats, who took the post overseeing the U.S. intelligence community in March 2017, said in a statement from his office Thursday.
Coats, a 75-year-old former Republican senator and ambassador, made a rare public break with Trump in July when he publicly criticized the president’s decision to meet one-on-one with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. “I would have suggested a different way, but that’s not my role, that’s not my job,” he told a forum in Colorado that month.
Pence, Pompeo Join Trump in Assailing Article
Mike Pence’s office said the vice president wasn’t the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed and lashed out at the newspaper for publishing the piece. “The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds,” Jarrod Agen, Pence’s communications director said on Twitter. “The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts.”
Asked by a reporter in Delhi about the op-ed, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said it “shouldn’t surprise anyone that the New York Times, a liberal newspaper that has attacked this administration relentlessly, chose to print such a piece” and that if it actually came from a senior administration official “ they should not well have chosen to take a disgruntled deceptive bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper. ”
Pompeo’s spokeswoman started to turn to another question, but the secretary interjected: “I’ll answer your other question directly because I know someone will say, ‘Gosh, he didn’t answer the question.’ It’s not mine.”
What to Watch
Trump is scheduled to travel Thursday afternoon to Montana for campaign events and may comment further on the matter during his public appearances. It’s the first overnight swing of what aides have described as an aggressive schedule of at least 40 days of campaign travel between the beginning of August and November.
Here’s What Happened
The New York Times published an op-ed Wednesday by an anonymous U.S. official, said that he or she, and others in government, have vowed to thwart the president’s “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” wrote the person, identified by the Times only as a senior administration . “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”
In response, Trump attacked the New York Times in over the article’s publication, questioning whether the author even existed and citing national security as a reason for the newspaper to disclose the person’s name.
“If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” Trump said on Twitter Wednesday night. The following day, he blamed the so-called deep state and his political opponents, saying they are “going crazy.”
“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” he said in tweet early Thursday. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”