Trump wants Sessions to investigate NYT op-ed

President Donald Trump said 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.

Posted: Sep 9, 2018 12:59 PM
Updated: Sep 9, 2018 1:11 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.

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: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
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Madison129634
Jones112049
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Harrison88610
Forrest86042
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Washington5789
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Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
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Grenada4795
Lamar4567
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Pike43112
Monroe39930
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Attala35923
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Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
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Simpson3103
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Tate27810
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Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
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Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
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Lawrence1070
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