WASHINGTON — The White House said today that they’re not making a determination of what crime may have been committed when asking the Justice Department to investigate who wrote the mysterious op-ed criticizing the Trump administration from within.
A “senior administration official” is how last week’s anonymous New York Times op-ed writer was identified; he or she wrote that some within the White House are actively working to stop Trump from acting out on certain impulses. Publication was followed by cabinet officials declaring publicly that they were not the op-ed writer.
“Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the author wrote in the Wednesday piece.
The anonymous author said that similar-minded officials within the administration are “trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”
“This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state,” the author states. “It’s the work of the steady state.”
President Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to North Dakota on Friday, “I would say Jeff [Sessions] should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security.”
“It doesn’t seem to be anybody very high up because everybody very high up has already said, ‘It wasn’t me,’” Trump said. “It would be very hard if it was, if they got caught.”
“We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now,” he said of the anonymous author.
The Justice Department said it does not deny or confirm ongoing investigations.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House today that “certainly if there’s an individual, whether or not — since we don’t know who they are, if that individual is in meetings where national security is being discussed, or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the executive branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into.”
Asked if she was saying the op-ed constituted a misuse of classified information, Sanders replied, “Once again, it’s something that the Department of Justice should simply look into, and that’s for them to make that determination.”
“Is the White House actively trying to find out who this person is? Or do you not really care and you’re moving on to other things?” a reporter asked.
“We’re certainly focused on things that actually matter. And the staff here, that is here to do their job and not undermine the great work that this president and this administration has done. And we’re going to continue focusing on that,” she replied.
“Does the president not think that that op-ed is protected by the First Amendment? Does he really think that the federal government should contemplate action against a newspaper for publishing an article?” a reporter later asked.
“I think it’s less about that part of it and whether or not somebody was actively trying to undermine the executive branch of the government and a duly elected president of the United States,” Sanders responded.
Asked if Trump wants to sue Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, whose book Fear: Trump in the White House comes out Tuesday, Sanders said, “Certainly keep you posted on that, but I think we’ve been extremely clear from the beginning. Many of the book’s sources have already spoken out to refute a couple of them.”