Sep 6, 2018

Go deeper: The Trump officials who've denied writing the NYT op-ed

Mike Pence, Kirstjen Nielsen, Jeff Sessions, Jim Mattis, Mike Pompeo. Photos from Getty Images: Kevin Hagen, Olivier Douliery, Alex Wong, Saul Loeb, Nicholas Kamm.

Washington has launched a massive "whodunnit" search to identify the anonymous senior White House administration official who wrote the scathing New York Times op-ed trashing President Trump.

The big picture: Scores of high-ranking officials from Vice President Mike Pence to Defense Secretary James Mattis are denying their involvement. Meanwhile, President Trump is calling on the Times to turn over the author.

  • Vice President Mike Pence: "The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts," VP communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: During a briefing with reporters in India, Pompeo said "they should not...have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor’s word for anything and put it in their newspaper. ...It’s not mine."
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions: A Justice Department spokesperson denied Sessions' involvement, stating that the AG "is not the author of the anonymous NY Times op-ed."
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis: Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said "It was not his op-ed."
  • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: A DHS spokesperson said the secretary is "focused on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland—not writing anonymous and false opinion pieces."
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for Treasury tweeted "It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary."
  • U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley: She replied "No" when asked by the Times as she walked into the Security Council.
  • Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: "Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is patently false," Coats said in a statement per CBS.
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson: A HUD spokesman told Politico in an email, "Haha nope."
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: According to Politico, "A spokeswoman at the Interior Department replied with only the word “no” when asked whether Secretary Ryan Zinke or Deputy Secretary Dave Bernhardt wrote the letter."
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry: The secretary tweeted, "I am not the author of the New York Times OpEd, nor do I agree with its characterizations."
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: He tweeted, "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."

Be smart: Axios' Jonathan Swan tweeted earlier, "Are people actually bothering to ask all these cabinet secretaries whether they wrote the anonymous op-ed? I highly doubt it’s a cabinet sec but if it is they’d happily lie to cover their butt. An inane exercise."

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