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Trump Decries 'Gutless' New York Times Op-Ed By Unnamed Senior Administration Official

(CBS News) — President Trump reacted for the first time Wednesday to an op-ed The New York Times published from someone identified only as a senior administration official, who says they are part of the "resistance" holding back the president's "half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions."

In the highly unusual op-ed, the author writes that "President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

The president, speaking at an event with sheriffs at the White House, called the op-ed a "disgrace" and "gutless."

"We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times, that's talking about — he's part of the resistance within the Trump administration," the president said. "This is what we have to deal with. And you know the dishonest media, because you people deal with it as well as I do. But it's really a disgrace. I will say this, nobody has done what this administration's done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through."

"When you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who's failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons now, and The New York Times is failing," Mr. Trump added later. "If I weren't here, I believe The New York Times probably wouldn't even exist. Someday, when I'm not president, which hopefully will be in about six and a half years, The New York Times, CNN and all of these phony media outlets will be out of business, folks, they'll be out of business, because there'll be nothing to write and there'll be nothing of interest. So nobody has done what this administration has done."

Early Wednesday evening, the president tweeted "TREASON?" although it was unclear if he was referencing the author of the op-ed or something else.

The Times did not reveal who authored the op-ed, and there are hundreds of officials who are considered "senior administration officials."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a formal response to reporters, calling on The New York Times to issue an apology for the "pathetic, reckless, and selfish" op-ed. She also said the "coward" who authored the piece "should do the right thing and resign."

"Nearly 62 million people voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2016, earning him 306 Electoral College votes – versus 232 for his opponent.  None of them voted for a gutless, anonymous source to the failing New York Times," Sanders said in a statement. "We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed.  This is a new low for the so-called 'paper of record' and it should issue an apology, just as it did after the election for its disastrous coverage of the Trump campaign. This is just another example of the liberal media's concerted effort to discredit the president."

The Times' op-ed comes on the heels of excerpts of a new book by Bob Woodward, the journalist who helped bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on Watergate. The White House has denied the book's shocking claims thus far, and the president has called on Congress to change libel laws.

— Kathryn Watson

(© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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