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Trump wants Sessions to investigate New York Times op-ed

President Donald Trump said Friday he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate and uncover the id...

Posted: Sep 8, 2018 2:13 PM
Updated: Sep 8, 2018 2:13 PM

President Donald Trump said Friday he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate and uncover the identity of the senior administration official who penned an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times this week.

"Yeah, I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of this piece was because I really believe it's national security," Trump told reporters Friday aboard Air Force One.

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Trump has railed in recent days about the publication of the anonymous op-ed, calling its author "gutless" and a "coward" while suggesting the op-ed could damage national security. Now, it appears Trump is taking this a step further and calling for a criminal investigation, though there is no indication the author violated any laws.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on the mater, saying "we do not confirm or deny investigations."

Neither Trump nor the White House has identified a specific crime that has been committed.

The New York Times responded: "We're confident that the Department of Justice understands that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power. The President's threats both underscore why we must safeguard the identity of the writer of this op-ed and serve as a reminder of the importance of a free and independent press to American democracy."

The Justice Department typically only investigates leaks that involve classified information, which does not appear to be the case with The New York Times op-ed.

Asked whether any legal action would be taken against The New York Times, Trump demurred: "Well, we're going to see."

Trump has been enraged by the publication of the op-ed, directing White House aides to work to uncover the identity of the unnamed senior administration official who painted a withering portrait of a president whose reckless decisions must be contained by aides around him.

Trump has fumed about the anonymous op-ed privately and publicly, including during a rally in Montana on Thursday night, when he again raised the notion that the op-ed presents a national security threat.

Trump on Friday argued the column presents a national security concern because this person still is in the government and shouldn't be attending high-level meetings.

"We're going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he's talking about, also where he is right now," Trump said. "Suppose I have a high level national security and he has got a clearance -- we talk about clearances a lot recently -- and he goes into a high-level meeting concerning China or Russia or North Korea or something and this guy goes in. I don't want him in those meetings."

Trump insisted he was not merely upset about the opinion piece because of the unsparing criticism directed at him, but said the anonymity prevents him from fighting back.

"I don't mind criticism, I handle it and I fight back," he said, calling The New York Times' publication of the piece "disgraceful." "But here's criticism where you can't fight back. 'Cause you have somebody doing it anonymously."

Trump and Sessions

Trump's call for Sessions to launch an investigation into the publication of the anonymous op-ed comes as his relationship with his attorney general remains in turmoil.

But sources familiar with Sessions' thinking say he has come to terms with the fact that his relationship with Trump won't end well one way or the other.

When Trump first started attacking Sessions last year, Sessions told allies he was going to keep his head down and continue leading the Justice Department. As the broadsides continued, he doubled down, expressing to his inner circle that Trump would have to fire him because he had no intention of quitting.

But now, Sessions has readily conceded that the circumstances between himself and the President have worsened in recent weeks, two people familiar with his thinking told CNN -- though Sessions has not signaled to confidants he's considering resigning.

The two men rarely if ever speak one on one, and people have overheard Sessions joking that he checks Trump's Twitter for updates.

Sessions is prepared for whatever outcome awaits him -- including being fired.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 116617

Reported Deaths: 3283
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7987178
DeSoto713479
Harrison527284
Jackson462285
Rankin398286
Madison383794
Lee360080
Forrest306978
Jones295784
Washington259299
Lafayette251343
Lauderdale2485135
Lamar227138
Oktibbeha202854
Bolivar201977
Neshoba1854111
Lowndes180262
Panola170240
Leflore168787
Sunflower163449
Warren155156
Monroe152173
Pontotoc147920
Marshall145329
Lincoln141157
Pike139256
Copiah138136
Scott125729
Coahoma125437
Grenada122639
Yazoo122634
Simpson121749
Union119225
Tate117739
Leake115242
Holmes114960
Itawamba114825
Pearl River114560
Adams108944
Prentiss106920
Wayne102022
Alcorn101112
George99919
Covington97927
Marion95443
Tippah91323
Newton86927
Chickasaw85726
Hancock85028
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84421
Tishomingo81641
Attala79726
Clarke76151
Clay70021
Jasper69117
Walthall64027
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59917
Smith59616
Montgomery55223
Yalobusha54914
Claiborne53816
Tunica53517
Lawrence52514
Perry49823
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47714
Humphreys44916
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41211
Webster37613
Benton3456
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32715
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27710
Franklin2463
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 159439

Reported Deaths: 2699
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23443377
Mobile16934315
Tuscaloosa10414140
Montgomery10298197
Madison939496
Shelby743663
Baldwin669469
Lee655065
Calhoun462161
Marshall441150
Etowah431251
Morgan418235
Houston418034
DeKalb346129
Elmore322753
St. Clair299942
Limestone289330
Walker282392
Talladega267435
Cullman250824
Lauderdale231342
Jackson217515
Autauga207431
Franklin206131
Colbert204132
Russell19533
Blount194225
Chilton189332
Dallas187227
Coffee179511
Dale177251
Covington175529
Escambia173030
Clarke135317
Chambers135244
Pike134413
Tallapoosa133087
Marion109729
Barbour10339
Marengo102522
Butler101340
Winston93713
Geneva9167
Lawrence86132
Pickens86018
Bibb84314
Randolph82916
Hale77730
Clay74912
Washington74912
Cherokee74514
Henry7196
Lowndes71428
Bullock64917
Monroe64810
Crenshaw60930
Perry5936
Fayette58413
Cleburne5738
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56113
Macon53720
Lamar5065
Sumter47321
Choctaw39212
Greene34616
Coosa2053
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