The Slatest

A Bunch of Trump’s Senior Administration Officials Rush to Say, “It Wasn’t Me”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes it clear: It wasn’t me! NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

This post has been updated with additional information as news develops.

Several senior officials in the Trump administration have denied that they were the author of Wednesday’s New York Times op-ed lambasting the president.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in India on Thursday, “It is not mine,” while Mike Pence’s spokesman said on Twitter that the vice president and his office are “above such amateur acts.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also joined the dog pile:

While these officials are all close to Trump and are seen as loyalists, another official who at times has appeared distant from the president, especially on foreign policy and Russia, weighed in to say it wasn’t him. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a statement that “speculation that the …. op-ed was written by me or my Principal Deputy is patently false. We did not.”

Note that other officials went beyond a simple denial to criticize either the op-ed writer or the Times—Pompeo said, “I find the media’s efforts in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing”—where as Coats’ statement was far more measured, saying only that the intelligence community he oversees “remain[s] focused on our mission to provide the President and policymakers with the best intelligence possible.”

Several other officials—including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, budget director Mick Mulvaney, and CIA Director Gina Haspel—issued denials through their spokespeople.

While some Republican senators such as Ben Sasse and Bob Corker said the op-ed was concerning but also largely consistent with what they knew about the White House, one unlikely senator—Rand Paul—suggested that the president could force administration officials to undergo polygraph tests to prove it wasn’t them.