Trump vents over leaks as Woodward pushes back on criticism
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump vented over White House leaks today as a new tell-all book commands attention, an anonymous writer detailing "resistance" in the administration remains at large and a former staffer reveals more private recordings of the commander in chief.
But while Trump continues to insist privately that he wants leakers punished – in particular, the author of an unsigned New York Times opinion piece – it remained unclear if his administration would mete out any discipline.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said no lie detectors were being used to smoke out the writer of the op-ed, though she insisted the West Wing would like to see an investigation.
Sanders said it's up to the Justice Department to make that determination. "But someone actively trying to undermine the duly elected president and the entire executive branch of government, that seems quite problematic to me and something they should take a look at," she said.
It appeared to be another instance of the president versus the presidency, as Trump proceeded on one track while his administration largely moved on another.
There was fear among some Trump advisers if the president felt that his staff or the Justice Department was not carrying out his order to find the leakers, then he could feel compelled to make changes.
At a White House press briefing, Sanders slammed the book "Fear," from veteran journalist Bob Woodward, as "careless and reckless."
Woodward staunchly defended his work, saying on NBC's "Today" show that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly "are not telling the truth" when they deny making disparaging remarks about Trump attributed to them.
"These are political statements to protect their jobs," Woodward said.
Trump officials have rushed to distance themselves from the op-ed and from Woodward's book, both of which depict a White House mired in dysfunction, with aides disparaging the Republican president and working to prevent him from making disastrous decisions.