President Donald Trump believes the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed characterizing him as “detrimental to the health of our republic” was written by a member of his national security team, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told CNN.
“The president ... just said he believes it’s somebody in national security,” Conway told Christiane Amanpour in an interview that will air on CNN and PBS on Monday.
The op-ed author emphasized the “resistance” inside the Trump administration on foreign policy.
Trump also told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that the op-ed author likely has a security clearance and access to high-level meetings on national security strategy. “I don’t want him in those meetings. We’re looking at it very strongly from a legal standpoint,” he said.
Conway said she didn’t believe the author was a White House official, though the writer was identified by The New York Times as a “senior official in the Trump administration.”
Conway urged the writer to “come forward and say it, or ought to resign because the loyalty is not to the president ... it’s loyalty to the presidency,” CNN reported.
Trump on Friday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to determine who wrote the op-ed, and has demanded that the Times reveal the author’s identity. He has suggested in a tweet that the op-ed may amount to “treason.”
Conway told Amanpour: “I really hope they find the person. I believe the person will suss himself or herself out ... because that’s usually what happens. People brag to the wrong person. They brag that they did this or that.”
Among several people who have emerged in the media as possible authors of the piece has been Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who has sharply contradicted the president. In July he publicly rebuked Trump for playing down American intelligence that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election. He has denied that he — or his top aide — wrote the op-ed.
“Speculation that The New York Times op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is patently false. We did not,” Coats said in a statement.
Other possibilities mentioned in the national security sphere have included CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Even Conway has been floated as a possibility.
The op-ed described secret “resistance” members around the “impetuous” and “petty” president who are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
It added: “We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”
It may be “cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author wrote. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”