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Trump Demands NYT Turn Over Anonymous White House Critic

WHITE HOUSE — Top Trump administration officials are denying they are the author of an anonymous New York Times opinion piece criticizing President Donald Trump’s “petty and ineffective” leadership style.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking during a visit to India, called the article “sad,” saying he finds “the media's efforts in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing.”

Vice President Mike Pence's office said it is “above such amateur acts.”

The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. 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.

— Jarrod Agen (@VPComDir) September 6, 2018

The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, released a statement saying: “Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not.”

Others issuing denials included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

The Times said the author is a senior administration official whose job would be jeopardized if that person's identity is made public.

The anonymous writer asserts the president's worst impulses are frequently foiled by his own staff.

The author of the piece writes, “it may be cold comfort in this chaotic era” but wants Americans to know that “there are adults in the room.”

Trump responded to the article with a series of comments after it was published Wednesday, including a tweet demanding the newspaper name the source for prosecution.

“Does the so-called 'Senior Administration Official' really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?” Trump said on Twitter. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018

The demand came shortly after Trump published a one-word message on Twitter: "TREASON?"

An Obama administration senior official, Ned Price, says that while the president may not agree with the writer, “There’s nothing in this person’s op-ed that verges on sensitive national security equities. For Trump to intimate otherwise dangerously blurs a line that our democracy depends on for the sake of free speech.”

Price, who served as spokesman at the Central Intelligence Agency and then the National Security Council, tells VOA, “I certainly don’t agree with the op-ed writer, but that in no way makes Trump’s approach acceptable.”

There for 'all the wrong reasons'

Trump, asked earlier Wednesday about the article following an event in the East Room, called it "gutless" and launched into an extended criticism of the newspaper.

“They don't like Donald Trump and I don't like them because they're very dishonest people,” the president told reporters.

Trump characterized the writer of the opinion piece as someone “probably who is failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons.”

Trump ended his night on Twitter by declaring: “I'm draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don't worry, we will win!”

I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2018

One assertion in the commentary concerns “early whispers” of invoking the 25th Amendment, 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.”

The 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution spells out measures that can be taken for the removal of a sitting president.

Just after Trump's impromptu remarks, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement calling the article “pathetic, reckless, and selfish,” describing the action as “a new low for the so-called paper of record.’”

Sanders said the Times should issue an apology, calling the article's publication “another example of the liberal media's concerted effort to discredit the President.”

As for the anonymous author, the press secretary accused the person of “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.”

Support for agenda

The article plays into anecdotes released Tuesday from reporter Bob Woodward's new book "Fear", which alleges Trump's staff has stolen important documents off his desk. The book is scheduled for release next Tuesday.

Trump terms the book as “fiction.”

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