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All the Trump officials who want you to know they definitely did not write the NYT op-ed — and a few who aren't saying

Over two dozen Trump administration officials have come forward to condemn the person who wrote the op-ed or deny writing it themselves — and in some cases, both.

by Christianna Silva
Sep 6 2018, 9:14pm

Senior officials in the Trump administration can’t issue denials fast enough. Just a day after the New York Times published an anonymous Op-Ed in which a senior official in the Trump administration claimed to be part of the resistance against Trump himself, over two dozen Trump officials have come forward to condemn the person who wrote it or deny writing it themselves. In some cases, they did both.

Here's everyone who's issued a statement so far and what they had to say:

FLAT-OUT DENIALS

Vice President Mike Pence

"The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The (New York Times) should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts," Pence's deputy chief of staff and communications director Jarrod Agen tweeted Thursday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo, traveling in India, told reporters the op-ed is “not mine.”

“It is sad that you have someone who would make that choice,” Pompeo said. “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.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats

“From the beginning of our tenure, we have insisted that the entire (intelligence community) remain focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible,” Coats said in a statement, adding that the idea he or his principal deputy Sue Gordon wrote the op-ed is “patently false.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis

Pentagon spokesperson Dana White told CNN, “It was not his op-ed,” when asked if Mattis was the person who penned the essay.

White House Counselor Don McGahn

When asked if he wrote the op-ed, McGahn said “no” to a group of reporters on Thursday, CBS reporter Alan He tweeted.

Secretary for Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen

“Secretary Nielsen is focused on leading the men and women of DHS and protecting the homeland — not writing anonymous and false opinion pieces for the New York Times,” the agency's press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said in a statement. “These types of political attacks are beneath the secretary and the department’s mission.”

Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

“The Secretary didn’t write the op-ed,” a spokesperson for Carson told NBC News.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

A Department of Justice spokesperson told CNN and ABC News that Sessions was not the author.

Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations told multiple news outlets that Haley did not write the op-ed.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mike Mulvaney

“Dir. Mulvaney did not write the op-ed,” a Mulvaney spokeswoman said on Thursday, according to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs.

Secretary for Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie

“Neither Secretary Wilkie nor anyone else at VA wrote the op-ed,” Curt Cashour, a spokesman for Wilkie, told the Associated Press.

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta

“The Secretary does not play these sophomoric Washington games. He is definitely not the author,” a Department of Labor spokesperson told CNN.

CIA Director Gina Haspel

CIA press secretary Tim Barrett kept it simple, and when he was asked if Haspel wrote the op-ed, he simply responded “no.”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry

“I am not the author of the New York Times OpEd, nor do I agree with its characterizations,” Perry tweeted. “Hiding behind anonymity and smearing the President of the United States does not make you an ‘unsung hero’, it makes you a coward, unworthy of serving this Nation.”

Counselor Kellyanne Conway

“Of course not,” Conway told NBC News when asked if she penned the essay.


Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler

“That's a no,” Wheeler’s spokesperson John Konkus said when asked if Wheeler wrote the op-ed. “Acting Administrator Wheeler supports President Trump 100% and is honored to serve in his Cabinet. He also believes whoever wrote the op-ed should resign.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

“No, Secretary Perdue did not write the op-ed,” a department spokesperson told NBC News.

Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon

“I am not author of the anonymous @nytimes op-ed,” McMahon wrote on Twitter. “@realDonaldTrump has a clear governing vision for the country and his record of results is remarkable. I am proud to serve as a member of President Trump's @Cabinet to advocate on behalf of America's 30 million small businesses.”

Health Secretary Alex Azar

“Secretary Azar did not write the op-ed,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley told the Hill.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

“For those who have inquired, this is to confirm that Secretary Chao is not the author of the op-ed,” department spokesperson Marianne McInerney said in a statement.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

“I did not write and am thoroughly appalled by this op-ed. I couldn't be prouder of our work at Commerce and of @POTUS,” Ross tweeted.

US Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer

“I did not write it,” Lighthizer said in a statement to CNN. “It does not reflect my views at all, and it does not reflect the views of anyone I know in the Administration. It is a complete and total fabrication.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

“.@BetsyDeVosED is not a Washington insider and does not play Washington insider games,” the department tweeted on Thursday. “She has the courage of her convictions and signs her opinions. She is not the author of the anonymous @nytimes op-ed.”

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman

“Amb Huntsman: Come to find, when you're serving as the U.S. envoy in Moscow, you're an easy target on all sides,” Andrea Kalan, spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeted, quoting Huntsman. “Anything sent out by me would have carried my name. An early political lesson I learned: never send an anonymous op-ed.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Zinke’s office told Politico that he had nothing to do with the op-ed.

NOT QUITE DENIALS

First lady Melania Trump

Melania didn't deny writing the piece, but she did say through a spokesperson that the author of the op-ed was “sabotaging” the country with “cowardly actions.”

“If a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words and people have the right to be able to defend themselves,” she said in a statement.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

In a tweet on Thursday, Sanders didn't deny writing the op-ed but called whoever did write the op-ed a “coward” and a “gutless loser.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Tony Sayegh Jr., the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the U.S. Treasury said in a tweet that Mnuchin had nothing to do with the op-ed.

“.@stevenmnuchin1 is honored to serve @POTUS & the American people. He feels it was irresponsible for @nytimes to print this anonymous piece,” Sayegh tweeted on Thursday. “Now, dignified public servants are forced to deny being the source. It is laughable to think this could come from the Secretary.”

Cover image: U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House September 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.