Senior aides to Donald Trump scrambled on Thursday to disown a New York Times column written by an unnamed administration official that slammed the leadership style of the US president as impetuous, petty and ineffective.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement: "Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is patently false".
Trump railed against the op-ed during a meeting of dozens of sheriffs from across the country on Wednesday, calling the anonymous piece "gutless".
Trump tweeted. "If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's fact-checker, seized on Dao's explanation of how the New York Times made a decision to describe the author.
He said the scoop from the op-ed is essentially "Trump's not nice".
The president's former lead personal attorney, John Dowd, is quoted in graphic language referring to Trump as a "liar" who will end up wearing an "orange jump suit" if he gives testimony to special counsel Robert Muller, who is looking into ties between the 2016 Trump election campaign and Russian Federation.More news: Jordan Henderson: Liverpool captain signs new five-year contract
The anonymous "senior" official's title and their experience working "in the Trump administration" allows for a wide range of people to scrutinise.
While speculation ran rampant, administration officials began denying it. Pence's office issued a forceful statement, saying the vice president puts his name on opinions.
Dr. Bandy Lee told Salon and The New York Daily News on Thursday that two White House officials flagged Trump's behavior last October. It's coming from inside the White House! She then encouraged those who are curious to "call the opinion desk of the failing NYT", and then proceeded to give out the phone number for the publication.
In it, the author criticises Trump's moral compass and claimed that members of the administration were working to "frustrate parts of [Trump's] agenda and his worst inclinations". "I don't know and neither do you, but it doesn't seem likely".
The author says that he/she isn't a liberal operative and agrees with numerous policy goals the administration is pursuing, but that those goals are being achieved in spite of - and not because of - the president.
What would happen, Sullivan wondered, if one of the Times's own reporters discovered the identity of the author?
Noah also focused on the article's 25th Amendment bombshell, particularly how cabinet members decided not to go through with it.
It reads: "We want the administration to succeed. Today, we temporarily blocked accounts that shared this information until they deleted the Tweet that violated our rules", a Twitter spokesperson said at the time.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the book was "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad".