Donald Trump’s defenders, led by Vice President Mike Pence, were out in force on Sunday following a turbulent week capped by the publication of an anonymous New York Times opinion piece savaging the president.
Pence sat for two interviews on Sunday talk shows, telling CBS that there has “never” been a discussion of invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in a bid to remove Trump from office.
“No. Never. And why -- why would we be” discussing it, he said on “Face the Nation.” Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that talk the amendment has been discussed at the White House “is such nonsense.”
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Excerpts from journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book about Trump, “Fear,” first revealed last week by Washington Post, cast doubt on the loyalty of Trump’s closest advisers. They were followed by an op-ed in the New York Times by an unidentified senior administration official who said some of Trump’s closest advisers work in secret to confound the president’s “more misguided impulses.”
Conceit and Deceit
Pence said he believes the denials from multiple Trump officials -- cabinet officials and others -- who’ve said they didn’t write the New York Times piece, adding that the author “doesn’t really know what happens in the White House.”
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Conway said the writer “obviously is motivated by conceit and deceit, and I don’t think should be imbued with credibility.”
“This person is going to suss himself or herself out,” Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union. “Cowards are like criminals; eventually they confess to the wrong person.”
The depiction of Trump’s White House offered by Woodward is off-base, Pence said.
“The narrative that I’ve picked up, in -- in not only this book but the opinion editorials -- suggests that things are happening in spite of the president’s leadership, and nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Woodward stuck by his portrayal of the White House in an interview Sunday on CBS ahead of the book’s publication Tuesday.
“People who work for him are worried -- that he will sign things or give orders that threaten the national security or financial security of the world,” Woodward said on the “Sunday Morning” broadcast.
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At least one Republican, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, acknowledged what he sees as dysfunction in the White House.
“It’s pretty clear that this White House is a reality-show, soap-opera presidency,” Sasse, a sometime critic of the president, told NBC.
Trump on Friday urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to find the writer of the anonymous op-ed. “I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Members of the administration sounded less certain of starting a probe.
“We’ll find out if there was criminal activity involved,” Pence said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ll see.”
Conway, asked whether any laws were broken by publishing the op-ed, also said “We’ll see. There could be and there could not be. You don’t know that and I don’t know that.”
“If the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and FBI feels like they have oversight over a matter like this, then they will make that decision,” she added.
Democratic lawmakers rejected the idea of an investigation.
“I see no national security issues” at work with the op-ed, said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “This is a White House in chaos, and a president that’s becoming more and more untethered.”
Updates with Sasse, Warner from 12th paragraph.
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