WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House on Thursday hit back hard at a supposed administration insider who anonymously wrote an opinion piece published by the New York Times questioning Donald Trump’s mental stability.
In a statement released to Twitter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders wrote:
“For those of you asking for the identity of the anonymous coward:
The media’s wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump. Stop.
If you want to know who this gutless loser is, call the opinion desk of the failing NYT at 212-556-1264.”
The response caused an almost instantaneous uproar on social media, with some demanding that Sanders be fired for releasing the telephone number to the Times’ opinion desk.
Richard Painter, a chief ethics lawyer under former president George W. Bush, tweeted that Sanders was “misusing her official position” and that her post “is a direct affront to the First Amendment.”
“She should be fired,” Painter told Newsweek on Thursday.
Norm Eisen, the top ethics official under ex-President Barack Obama and chairman of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, echoed Painter’s observation, adding that he saw Sanders’ actions as a federal ethics violation.
“A government official inciting the public to flood the phones of a private corporation & media outlet with harassing calls–openly interfering with its work–is a violation of the prohibition on “Misuse of Position” in 5 CFR 2635.702,” Eisen tweeted on Thursday. “Oh, the 1st Amendment is kinda relevant too.”
Calls to the White House for statement on the matter were met with “there will be no further comment”.