WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence says he’s “100 percent confident” that no one on his staff was involved with the anonymous New York Times column criticizing President Donald Trump’s leadership.
“I know them. I know their character,” Pence said in a taped interview aired Sunday by CBS‘ “Face the Nation.”
Some pundits had speculated that Pence could be the author because the piece from the person identified only as a “senior administration official” included language Pence has been known to use, like the unusual word “lodestar.” The writer claimed to be part of a “resistance” movement within the Trump administration that was working quietly behind the scenes to thwart his most dangerous impulses.
Pence added his staff to the list of more than two dozen high-ranking administration officials who have denied writing the opinion piece.
“Let me be very clear. I’m 100 percent confident that no one on the vice president’s staff was involved in this anonymous editorial. I know my people,” Pence said on “Face the Nation. “They get up every day and are dedicated, just as much as I am, to advancing the president’s agenda and supporting everything … President Trump is doing for the people of this country.”
Asked whether he had asked his staff about the op-ed, Pence said, “I don’t have to ask them because I know them. I know their character. I know their dedication and I am absolutely confident that no one on the vice president’s staff had anything to do with this.”
He repeated his belief that the essay writer should do the “honorable thing and resign.”
Publication of the op-ed followed the release of stunning details from an upcoming book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward in which current and former aides referred to Trump as an “idiot” and “liar” and depicted him as prone to rash policy decisions that some aides either work to stall or derail entirely.
Trump has dismissed Woodward’s book as a “work of fiction” and the Times op-ed author as “gutless.”
Woodward has said he stands by his reporting. His book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” is scheduled to be formally released on Tuesday, practically ensuring that the debate over Trump’s leadership ability and style will carry over into a second straight week.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Trump ally, has said the president would be justified in using lie detectors to ferret out the anonymous writer of the Times column. The president has yet to say whether he’d go that far, but Pence says he’d be willing.
“I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review the administration wanted to do,” he said in a taped “Fox News Sunday” interview.
In both television interviews, Pence pushed back on the portrayals of Trump as anything but a thoughtful leader.
“What I see is a tough leader, a demanding leader, someone who gets all the options on the table,” Pence said on Fox News. “But he makes the decisions, and that’s why we’ve made the progress we’ve made.”
Trump has said the Justice Department should investigate and unmask the anonymous New York Times author. He cited national security concerns for what would amount to an extraordinary criminal probe should Attorney General Jeff Sessions decide to pursue one.
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