Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Trumpworld sources tell Axios that officials rapidly shifted from trying to smoke out the author of the anonymous N.Y. Times op-ed, to using the guessing game to knife people they already hated — whispering the names of rivals and enemies as potential authors.

By last night, MSNBC counted 27 senior officials in the Trump administration (to use The Times' formulation) who had issued denials.

Here's my bet, which is contrarian to a lot of what you'll hear: There's a lot of speculation that The Times puffed up the person's importance, but I think the official actually is indisputably "senior."

  • Here's why: If I'm The Times, I know that publishing the anonymous blast is going to be controversial. I assume the person will be unmasked, perhaps sooner rather than later. And I don't want to look like a dope when the identity is known. If it weren't an actual big fish, I'd have a "fake news" problem.

How many suspects? "Paul Light, a New York University professor and expert on the federal bureaucracy, said about 50 people could have legitimately written the column," per AP.

  • "Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project, meanwhile, puts the number of true senior administration officials at around 100."

P.S. "Trump especially liked the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo," per the WashPost:

  • "While traveling in India, Pompeo criticized the 'liberal newspaper' and described the anonymous editorial as 'a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor’s word.'"

Go deeper: List of deniers.

Go deeper

Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.