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Trump responds to op-ed: 'Gutless'

President Trump responds to an anonymous senior administration official who claims to be part of a resistance inside the administration, thwarting parts of the President's agenda, in a New York Times op-ed.

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 2:17 PM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 2:23 PM

The highest-ranking officials in the Trump administration are publicly denying they or their offices authored the infamous anonymous op-ed in The New York Times, an indication of how deeply the episode has shaken the White House.

Among the officials to speak out are Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The op-ed is written by a senior Trump administration official who says they are part of an internal "resistance" working to thwart parts of Trump's agenda and block his worst impulses, and was published amid questions of President Donald Trump's fitness and his control over his administration.

Trump loves a strongly worded denial, and he is closely watching the string of statements, a top White House official tells CNN, adding that they are being printed out and delivered to the President as they come in.

The official added that there has not been a formal request for the statements, but by this point in the administration, Cabinet members are well aware of how he appreciates these messages of support. On Wednesday, Trump praised Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly for strongly pushing back against assertions in Bob Woodward's book that they were critical of the President.

A US official who works in an agency that issued a denial said there was no real internal debate or perceived downside over issuing a statement.

"We didn't write it," the official said. "We're happy to say so."

An administration official said White House aides were struggling Thursday morning to get ahead of the op-ed as the Cabinet and other top officials were releasing their own statements. The official said the White House "wanted a more coordinated response."

"Didn't seem very organized," the official said, describing the process.

The essay prompted a hunt in the White House, with the President intent on knowing who wrote the words he suggested could be treasonous, one administration official told CNN.

Aides are following leads based on the way the op-ed is written, looking at key words used in the editorial that stand out, according to a source close to the White House.

Despite the internal interest and the President's demand to smoke out the author, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday slammed the media's "wild obsession" with figuring out the identity. She also blamed the newspaper's opinion desk for being "complicit in this deceitful act" from a "gutless loser."

"The media's wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump. Stop," Sanders tweeted.

Pence, Pompeo quickly push back

In the wake of the op-ed's publication, speculation arose online that it could be someone in Pence's office -- or Pence himself -- who wrote it, given the op-ed's inclusion of the word "lodestar" and several speeches Pence gave using the unusual term. In the op-ed, the official also claimed there were "early whispers within" Trump's Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would require a majority of Cabinet officials to declare to Congress they believe the President is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" and thus leave the vice president in charge.

"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The (New York Times) should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts," Pence's deputy chief of staff and communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted Thursday.

Taking questions from reporters in India, Pompeo said the op-ed is "not mine." He also suggested that the author should quit their job instead of staying to "undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do."

The op-ed coincided with details being reported from Woodward's new book "Fear: Trump in the White House," in which Mattis is quoted as saying Trump has the understanding of a "fifth- or sixth-grader." Mattis personally denied the quotes attributed to him, saying they were "a product of someone's rich imagination."

Asked if Mattis wrote the essay, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told CNN, "It was not his op-ed."

Other Cabinet members issue denials

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: A Justice Department spokesman told CNN that Sessions was not the author.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: ".@stevenmnuchin1 is honored to serve @POTUS & the American people. He feels it was irresponsible for @nytimes to print this anonymous piece. Now, dignified public servants are forced to deny being the source. It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary," tweeted Tony Sayegh Jr., a spokesman for the department.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: "From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire (intelligence community) remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible," Coats said in a statement, adding that any speculation that he or his principal deputy Sue Gordon wrote the op-ed is "patently false."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: "Secretary 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. These types of political attacks are beneath the Secretary and the Department's mission," the agency's press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson: HUD spokesman Raffi Williams told CNN that Carson "didn't write the op-ed" and also denied writing the piece himself. Williams said he has not gone around asking other officials in the department but doubts it would be someone else at HUD.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley: In response to a CNN question about whether she wrote the op-ed, Haley said, "no."

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: Asked if Perdue was the author, Tim Murtaugh, a department spokesman, said "no" and referred to Sanders' tweet lambasting the media.

Labor Department Secretary Alexander Acosta: "The Secretary does not play these sophomoric Washington games. He is definitely not the author," a Department of Labor spokesperson told CNN.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie: "Neither Secretary Wilkie nor anyone else at VA wrote the op-ed," VA spokesperson Curtis Cashour told CNN, also pointing to Sanders' tweet.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney: Spokespersons for the OMB and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau both denied that Mulvaney wrote the Times op-ed.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler: "That's a no ... Acting Administrator Wheeler supports President Trump 100% and is honored to serve in his Cabinet. He also believes whoever wrote the op-ed should resign," spokesman John Konkus said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: "Secretary Azar did not write the op-ed," HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said.

CIA Director Gina Haspel: "No," agency spokesperson Timothy Barrett told CNN when asked if Haspel was behind it.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: "For those who have inquired, this is to confirm that Secretary Chao is not the author of the op-ed," Marianne McInerney, a spokeswoman for the department, said.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry: "I am not the author of the New York Times OpEd, nor do I agree with its characterizations," Perry tweeted. "Hiding behind anonymity and smearing the President of the United States does not make you an 'unsung hero', it makes you a coward, unworthy of serving this Nation."

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: "I did not write and am thoroughly appalled by this op-ed. I couldn't be prouder of our work at Commerce and of @POTUS," Ross said in a tweet that referenced Sanders' statement.

US Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer: "I did not write it. It does not reflect my views at all, and it does not reflect the views of anyone I know in the Administration. It is a complete and total fabrication," Lighthizer said in a statement to CNN.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: She is "not a Washington insider and does not play Washington insider games. She has the courage of her convictions and signs her opinions," the department's press secretary wrote on Twitter.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 915942

Reported Deaths: 9606
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1786832038
Ramsey739711046
Dakota67683587
Anoka64112577
Washington40545359
Stearns33631279
St. Louis29591409
Scott25994186
Wright25957217
Olmsted22339130
Sherburne19000127
Carver1670669
Clay12104105
Blue Earth1147970
Rice11451138
Crow Wing11213123
Chisago995379
Kandiyohi9815108
Otter Tail9813127
Benton9033125
Beltrami816997
Goodhue811798
Douglas7875101
Itasca772299
Mower733449
McLeod713084
Winona710258
Isanti700783
Steele685731
Morrison672879
Becker628574
Polk603187
Freeborn561246
Carlton546974
Mille Lacs532479
Lyon528461
Nobles525054
Nicollet522460
Pine515043
Cass501253
Todd492843
Brown470759
Le Sueur459734
Meeker433458
Martin386544
Wabasha375510
Waseca374333
Dodge361112
Hubbard355249
Roseau316231
Fillmore305315
Wadena302940
Redwood281445
Houston272017
Renville268451
Faribault258233
Sibley252317
Pennington252130
Kanabec250136
Cottonwood230132
Aitkin222450
Chippewa220542
Pope207410
Watonwan198020
Yellow Medicine188023
Rock177729
Koochiching176725
Swift173123
Stevens167511
Jackson161016
Clearwater158020
Marshall153522
Murray151811
Pipestone149729
Lake132924
Lac qui Parle123025
Wilkin121116
Mahnomen106014
Norman10509
Grant101510
Big Stone9485
Lincoln8805
Kittson73223
Red Lake71410
Traverse6056
Unassigned545124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3071

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 525758

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
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