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Officials deny writing anonymous NYT op-ed

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.

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 11:12 AM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 11:33 AM

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.

Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon: "I am not author of the anonymous @nytimes op-ed. @realDonaldTrump has a clear governing vision for the country and his record of results is remarkable," McMahon said Thursday on Twitter. "I am proud to serve as a member of President Trump's @Cabinet to advocate on behalf of America's 30 million small businesses.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: "No, he did not," a spokeswoman told CNN when asked if Zinke authored the op-ed.

Other administration officials

American Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman: "Come to find, when you're serving as the U.S. envoy in Moscow, you're an easy target on all sides. Anything sent out by me would have carried my name. An early political lesson I learned: never send an anonymous op-ed," Huntsman said in a statement tweeted by a spokeswoman.

FBI Director Chris Wray: An FBI spokesperson said Wray did not author the piece.

National security adviser John Bolton: "As General Sherman said, no," Bolton said, according to a spokesman's tweet.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 767409

Reported Deaths: 13980
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1054251805
Lake569191030
Allen42938698
St. Joseph37313568
Hamilton37298426
Elkhart29749470
Tippecanoe23479230
Vanderburgh23201405
Porter19573327
Johnson18822392
Hendricks18072321
Madison13548346
Clark13533198
Vigo12834256
LaPorte12566225
Monroe12546178
Delaware11143198
Howard10672237
Kosciusko9777124
Hancock8740150
Bartholomew8262157
Warrick8069157
Floyd8027182
Grant7366181
Wayne7233201
Boone7184105
Morgan6910143
Marshall6332116
Dubois6274118
Cass6090111
Dearborn601278
Noble599290
Henry5947111
Jackson516377
Shelby510898
Lawrence4922127
Gibson462696
Montgomery458192
Clinton455255
DeKalb455285
Harrison453577
Whitley415745
Huntington415582
Steuben410660
Miami405573
Jasper401155
Knox388391
Putnam385062
Wabash369083
Adams352956
Ripley351271
Jefferson341886
White339654
Daviess3090100
Wells303581
Greene293485
Decatur292593
Fayette286364
Posey281735
Scott280058
LaGrange277572
Clay273348
Washington254037
Randolph247783
Jennings239449
Spencer238731
Fountain235250
Starke229859
Owen222659
Sullivan221343
Fulton208345
Jay202932
Carroll197322
Orange191156
Perry189739
Vermillion180844
Rush177527
Tipton172747
Franklin171935
Parke155216
Pike141734
Blackford138032
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109715
Brown106043
Crawford105616
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8348
Union73610
Ohio58111
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1123964

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1304331493
Cuyahoga1172542263
Hamilton824421261
Montgomery535421062
Summit489021014
Lucas43747834
Butler40000614
Stark33837939
Lorain26029510
Warren24919312
Mahoning22710613
Lake21472396
Clermont20391261
Delaware19143138
Licking16863227
Trumbull16801492
Fairfield16793207
Medina15861276
Greene15528254
Clark14352308
Portage13432218
Wood13343201
Allen12049245
Richland11740213
Miami11019228
Wayne9258228
Columbiana9204236
Muskingum9133137
Pickaway8750123
Tuscarawas8718255
Marion8710140
Erie8135166
Ashtabula7281179
Hancock7048135
Ross7024165
Geauga6962153
Scioto6701108
Belmont6222179
Lawrence5947104
Union590949
Jefferson5725162
Huron5638122
Sandusky5488130
Darke5444131
Seneca5377128
Washington5371111
Athens526960
Auglaize507487
Mercer491185
Shelby482797
Knox4614113
Madison447566
Ashland444898
Defiance438799
Fulton436375
Putnam4354104
Crawford4114111
Brown409662
Preble3949107
Logan392179
Clinton390766
Ottawa375881
Highland366068
Williams356678
Champaign349660
Guernsey330554
Jackson321354
Perry298850
Morrow294743
Fayette289150
Hardin279365
Henry277167
Coshocton272961
Holmes2725102
Van Wert252265
Adams249858
Gallia249850
Pike244737
Wyandot235257
Hocking222963
Carroll201249
Paulding179942
Meigs151240
Monroe137945
Noble137739
Harrison115238
Morgan111624
Vinton87317
Unassigned04
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