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 3:14 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 3:34 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1125420

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1305631493
Cuyahoga1173952263
Hamilton825481261
Montgomery536581062
Summit489381014
Lucas43799834
Butler40064614
Stark33876939
Lorain26072510
Warren24959312
Mahoning22738613
Lake21482396
Clermont20425261
Delaware19169138
Licking16879227
Trumbull16829492
Fairfield16825207
Medina15880276
Greene15565254
Clark14366308
Portage13450218
Wood13358201
Allen12064245
Richland11748213
Miami11047228
Wayne9275228
Columbiana9216236
Muskingum9144137
Pickaway8755123
Tuscarawas8724255
Marion8716140
Erie8146166
Ashtabula7280179
Hancock7050135
Ross7031165
Geauga6975153
Scioto6726108
Belmont6224179
Lawrence5964104
Union591649
Jefferson5729162
Huron5644122
Sandusky5498130
Darke5448131
Seneca5380128
Washington5373111
Athens527260
Auglaize507787
Mercer491785
Shelby484397
Knox4621113
Madison448066
Ashland446198
Defiance439499
Fulton436875
Putnam4358104
Crawford4120111
Brown410462
Preble3956107
Logan392279
Clinton391466
Ottawa376481
Highland366668
Williams357378
Champaign349860
Guernsey331554
Jackson321954
Perry299050
Morrow294943
Fayette289350
Hardin279665
Henry277467
Coshocton273061
Holmes2726102
Van Wert252365
Gallia251150
Adams250958
Pike244837
Wyandot235557
Hocking222963
Carroll201449
Paulding180142
Meigs151540
Monroe137945
Noble137939
Harrison115438
Morgan111724
Vinton87517
Unassigned04
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Angola
Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 85°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 87°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 90°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 89°
Cooler and drier air settles in across the region to round out the work week.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events