WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump raged at his staff on Thursday after a new book and an op-ed in The New York Times both confirmed the existence of an internal White House effort to shield the country from the apparent dangers of his presidency.
For those unaware, the article published on Wednesday was allegedly written by a senior official in Trump's administration and claims members of his staff are actively working to undermine his actions when officials believe they may pose a risk to national security.
"Nobody knows who the hell he is, or she", Trump told supporters at a rally in Billings, Montana, adding: "Unidentified deep state operatives who defy voters to push their secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself".
"I think their reporters should go and investigate who it is".
On the Internet and in Washington, a guessing game has raged over who the author might be, prompting almost every cabinet-ranked member of the government to deny it was them.
But Mr Trump was said to be "volcanic" with rage over the article and is said to feel that the only people he can trust are his children.
But Mrs. Trump struck a different note than her husband, prefacing her criticism by proclaiming the importance of first-amendment freedoms.
"To the writer of the op-ed - you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions", the first lady emphasized.
The former NY businessman and reality TV star has had an unusually high level of staff turnover and has sometimes publicly criticized his top aides.
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Trump would probably argue that he's saying no indictments should be handed down this close to an election, regardless of party. Rarely, though, has he made it so explicit that he views the Justice Department as a political tool that is now being misused.
"I come from a place where if you're not in a position to execute the commander's intent, you have a singular option, that is to leave", he said.
Other Republicans cast the author of the op-ed as a renegade whose anonymous status undercut any credibility.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters she was not the author.
It is, in other words, the type of story pretty much any editor would dream of having fall into his lap - which is essentially what happened to Times op-ed page editor Jim Dao, who was approached by the unnamed official through an intermediary several days ago.
"We did not. From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire IC (intelligence community) remain focused on our mission to provide the president and policymakers with the best intelligence possible".
However, the writer says no one wants to cause a constitutional crisis.
The writer, identified by the Times only as a senior administration official, said that he or she, and others in government, have vowed to thwart the president's "more misguided impulses until he is out of office".
US President Donald Trump described the anonymous writer of the New York Times article as a gutless coward as he addressed crowds.
Pompeo said during a trip to India that he was not the author and condemned the Times for publishing it, while Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Mattis did not write the piece.