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Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

First Lady Melania Trump weighed in on the anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times on Thursday, saying the writer is "not protecting this country," but rather "sabotaging it with your cowardly actions."

Why it matters: The incendiary op-ed has gone viral among political circles, with it's harsh accusations of incompetence of President Trump. The president responded to the article tweeting, "TREASON?" and calling for the identity of the writer to be disclosed.

The full statement from Melania Trump:

"Freedom of speech is an important pillar of our nation's founding principles and a free press is important to our democracy. The press should be fair, unbiased and responsible.

Unidentified sources have become the majority of the voices people hear about in today's news. People with no names are writing our nation's history. Words are important, and accusations can lead to severe consequences. If a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words and people have the right to be able to defend themselves.

To the writer of the oped - you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.