President Donald Trump asked the New York Times to reveal the anonymous senior administration official who penned a critical op-ed Wednesday, claiming the author’s identity must be shared for “National Security purposes.”
In a tweet Wednesday evening, just hours after the Times published the unprecedented opinion piece, Trump doubled down on his criticism of the piece and called its author “gutless.”
“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?” Trump tweeted. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to the government at once!”
The perceived threat to national security posed by the op-ed was not immediately clear.
Not long before the tweet Wednesday evening, Trump tweeted: “TREASON?”
The New York Times op-ed came from an unnamed author identified as a “senior official in the Trump administration” who claimed to be a part of a group of administration officials working to combat Trump’s “agenda and his worst inclinations.” The scathing piece detailed how officials floated the idea of using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office, and referred to the “great lengths” administration staffers have gone to “keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing.”
“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” the anonymous official wrote. “Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.”
“We are incredibly proud to have published this piece, which adds significant value to the public’s understanding of what is going on in the Trump administration from someone who is in a position to know,” the Times said in a statement to TIME.
In the president’s initial response to the op-ed, Trump said it was “really a disgrace” and slammed the Times for publishing it. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the author should resign.
“He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people,” the statement said. “This coward should do the right thing and resign.”
The controversial op-ed comes after excerpts were published from veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s book on the White House, detailing anecdotes of chaos and frustration inside the administration. Trump responded to the widely shared anecdotes by claiming the book is riddled with “lies” and “phony sources.”