Anderson Cooper calls out Sanders' defense

Anderson Cooper discusses Sarah Sanders slamming an anonymous White House official's op-ed in the New York Times.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 2:00 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 2:34 PM

As a former FBI special agent, I watched with horror on Monday as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on claims made by President Donald Trump the previous week, when he indicated he wants the Justice Department to investigate the identity of the anonymous author of a recent and explosive New York Times op-ed.

The White House insists that identifying the writer is a matter of national security. Officials say the op-ed writer might be in a position to learn and then leak sensitive intelligence secrets.

These claims are complete nonsense. And they are dangerous.

First and foremost, the Department of Justice has very specific guidelines that dictate when a criminal investigation may be launched. According to the FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, for a full investigation, the FBI must have an "articulable factual basis" that reasonably indicates a crime has occurred, a crime is about to occur, or an investigation may yield foreign intelligence that helps protect the nation.

In the case of the anonymous administration official whose blistering op-ed sounded an alarm about a chaotic and dysfunctional White House, there is no crime that has been committed. There is no threat to national security. Sure, the matter is embarrassing for Trump, and I personally believe this writer should have publicly attached their name to such criticisms. But the FBI does not launch investigations at the pleasure of the President in order to ferret out people who say mean things.

The most solemn duty any President has is determining whether to send men and women in uniform into harm's way. I would argue a close second to that is responsibly overseeing executive branch agents who carry badges and guns and who literally have the power to deny someone of their liberty.

From the moment a new recruit steps foot onto the grounds of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, they are taught and drilled in the incredible responsibilities that come with exercising their law enforcement duties.

The FBI reinforces the seriousness of this undertaking throughout an agent's career, reminding them at each turn that federal officers face grave consequences should they zealously overstep their mandate. These agents know that speech and action protected by the First Amendment are off-limits to investigation, regardless of how any politician might feel about such activities.

Similarly, not only do FBI agents understand the limitations placed on them personally, but they also know it is their duty to report any suspected violations by their colleagues. This may come as news to some, but FBI employees must annually review and sign a document attesting they have witnessed no unreported intelligence abuses, which is then reported to the President's own Intelligence Oversight Board. Put simply, upholding the rule of law is not just a job description but a requirement taken very seriously and reiterated often.

Which is why the President's remarkable insistence that the Justice Department investigate the anonymous op-ed writer is so alarming. His request runs counter to everything these people stand for -- in direct conflict with the oath they have taken to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Unfortunately, the latest attempt to dragoon the Justice Department is not a one-off when it comes to this administration exploiting the levers of government power. From the "lock her up" chants about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to revoking security clearances of former officials critical of the President, the Trump administration is going to new extremes to abuse its immense power.

We have come a long way since the revelation of government abuses made famous during the 1970s Church Committee hearings, which unearthed widespread wiretapping and surveillance by government agents, frequently conducted without factual basis and authorized by the simple stroke of a pen by the FBI director, attorney general, or national security adviser.

We do not want to go back to that place and time, where zealous politicians could enlist the use of government agents for their own political aims. Such backtracking would destroy institutional norms since established to ensure independence in enforcing the law.

In the coming days we will see if current Justice Department officials decide to placate a persistent President, or whether they hold firm in adhering to the important precept that dictates their work be done impartially, without fear or favor.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319511

Reported Deaths: 7368
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22267267
Hinds20657421
Harrison18401317
Rankin13868282
Jackson13681248
Madison10239224
Lee10052176
Jones8458167
Forrest7824153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6501150
Lamar634088
Lafayette6303121
Washington5419136
Bolivar4836133
Panola4665110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4600147
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425073
Union415677
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386487
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3368111
Alcorn324272
Scott319774
Yazoo314171
Adams305886
Itawamba305078
Copiah299666
Coahoma298484
Simpson298189
Tippah291868
Prentiss283661
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231268
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187754
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry126738
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman81916
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69432
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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Columbus
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The relative lack of humidity has been a welcome change from the summertime stuffiness we’ve had lately. That lack of humidity will once again ensure that temperatures get down into the mid 60s for early morning Thursday. While Friday morning will remain comfortable as well, rain chances ratchet up as a tropical system approaches this weekend.
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