Melania Trump accuses anonymous op-ed writer of 'sabotaging' US

Melania Trump accuses anonymous op-ed writer of 'sabotaging' US
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First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez, Charlie Kirk among Twitter's most-engaged users The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies at 85 MORE on Thursday criticized the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed critical of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE, accusing them of "sabotaging" the country.

"If a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words and people have the right to be able to defend themselves," Melania Trump said in a statement to The Hill.

"To the writer of the [op-ed] — you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions," she added.

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The first lady joined a slew of other high-ranking aides in pushing back against the op-ed, in which a senior administration official bashed President Trump and described a group of "unsung heroes" who have fought the president's "worst inclinations."

Melania Trump, who has publicly disagreed with her husband on a number of issues in recent months, highlighted the importance of free speech in her statement but lamented the increasing use of anonymous sources.

"Unidentified sources have become the majority of the voices people hear about in today’s news," she said. "People with no names are writing our nation’s history. Words are important, and accusations can lead to severe consequences."

President Trump regularly suggests that anonymous sources are in fact "made up" by reporters. Journalists typically grant anonymity to sources who fear retribution or who would otherwise be unable to speak freely.

Washington has been taken over by speculation about the identity of the author of Wednesday's op-ed. The Times took the unusual step of withholding the individual's identity, describing them only as a "senior administration official."

Roughly a dozen Cabinet officials issued statements as of early Thursday afternoon denying they were responsible for it.

President Trump and the White House have issued furious statements, with the president calling on the Times to turn the author over to the government for "national security purposes."