STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Oxford
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 57°
Starkville
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather