The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said on Monday that the anonymous author of the New York Times op-ed that is searingly critical of Donald Trump’s ability to be president, is “attempting to undermine the executive branch”, and added that the US Department of Justice should “look into” the writer’s identity.
She declined to say whether the White House was actively hunting for the culprit, described as a senior administration official, whose identity is known to the New York Times. But she ruled out the possibility that lie detector tests would be used in the search, as the pro-Trump senator Rand Paul has suggested and Vice-President Mike Pence volunteered to undergo.
“We’re certainly focused on things that actually matter,” Sanders said on Monday afternoon. It was the first White House briefing since the New York Times essay became public last week. And that came just a day after bombshell revelations in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward on the Trump White House, which described senior figures discussing the removal of the president from office, at one point, and calling him an idiot.
“It’s frankly, I think, sad and pathetic that a gutless anonymous source could receive so much attention from the media,” Sanders said of the New York Times piece.
She also parried a question about whether the president believes the wave of cabinet members and top officials who have come forward to plead not guilty to writing the essay.
“It seems incredibly reckless for a book to make such outrageous claims to not even take the time to get a $10 factchecker to call around and verify that some of these quotes were happening,” she said.
On Monday morning, Trump, who reacted angrily to the one-two punch last week, threatened to write his own book about his presidency.