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Anderson Cooper calls out Sanders' defense

Anderson Cooper discusses Sarah Sanders slamming an anonymous White House official's op-ed in the New York Times.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 2:16 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 2:34 PM

As a former FBI special agent, I watched with horror on Monday as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on claims made by President Donald Trump the previous week, when he indicated he wants the Justice Department to investigate the identity of the anonymous author of a recent and explosive New York Times op-ed.

The White House insists that identifying the writer is a matter of national security. Officials say the op-ed writer might be in a position to learn and then leak sensitive intelligence secrets.

These claims are complete nonsense. And they are dangerous.

First and foremost, the Department of Justice has very specific guidelines that dictate when a criminal investigation may be launched. According to the FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, for a full investigation, the FBI must have an "articulable factual basis" that reasonably indicates a crime has occurred, a crime is about to occur, or an investigation may yield foreign intelligence that helps protect the nation.

In the case of the anonymous administration official whose blistering op-ed sounded an alarm about a chaotic and dysfunctional White House, there is no crime that has been committed. There is no threat to national security. Sure, the matter is embarrassing for Trump, and I personally believe this writer should have publicly attached their name to such criticisms. But the FBI does not launch investigations at the pleasure of the President in order to ferret out people who say mean things.

The most solemn duty any President has is determining whether to send men and women in uniform into harm's way. I would argue a close second to that is responsibly overseeing executive branch agents who carry badges and guns and who literally have the power to deny someone of their liberty.

From the moment a new recruit steps foot onto the grounds of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, they are taught and drilled in the incredible responsibilities that come with exercising their law enforcement duties.

The FBI reinforces the seriousness of this undertaking throughout an agent's career, reminding them at each turn that federal officers face grave consequences should they zealously overstep their mandate. These agents know that speech and action protected by the First Amendment are off-limits to investigation, regardless of how any politician might feel about such activities.

Similarly, not only do FBI agents understand the limitations placed on them personally, but they also know it is their duty to report any suspected violations by their colleagues. This may come as news to some, but FBI employees must annually review and sign a document attesting they have witnessed no unreported intelligence abuses, which is then reported to the President's own Intelligence Oversight Board. Put simply, upholding the rule of law is not just a job description but a requirement taken very seriously and reiterated often.

Which is why the President's remarkable insistence that the Justice Department investigate the anonymous op-ed writer is so alarming. His request runs counter to everything these people stand for -- in direct conflict with the oath they have taken to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Unfortunately, the latest attempt to dragoon the Justice Department is not a one-off when it comes to this administration exploiting the levers of government power. From the "lock her up" chants about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to revoking security clearances of former officials critical of the President, the Trump administration is going to new extremes to abuse its immense power.

We have come a long way since the revelation of government abuses made famous during the 1970s Church Committee hearings, which unearthed widespread wiretapping and surveillance by government agents, frequently conducted without factual basis and authorized by the simple stroke of a pen by the FBI director, attorney general, or national security adviser.

We do not want to go back to that place and time, where zealous politicians could enlist the use of government agents for their own political aims. Such backtracking would destroy institutional norms since established to ensure independence in enforcing the law.

In the coming days we will see if current Justice Department officials decide to placate a persistent President, or whether they hold firm in adhering to the important precept that dictates their work be done impartially, without fear or favor.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
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