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Dem senator 'not aware' of legal basis for investigating op-ed author's identity

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) on Sunday said he doesn't know of any legal basis for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the identity of the anonymous writer of a New York Times op-ed claiming to be part of the "resistance" against President Trump within the administration.

"Not that I'm aware of," Coons said on "Fox News Sunday" when asked if the DOJ would have basis for investigating the writer's identity.

Coons's comments came after Trump last week said officials should investigate the anonymous administration official's identity, arguing that it's a matter of national security.

"The real issue here across all of these concerns is that we have a president who in his tweets and in his statements and speeches suggests that he thinks the Department of Justice should act more like the in-house lawyer department or legal department to the Trump Organization, rather than what they are: the independent agency charged with defending our constitution," Coons said Sunday.

"The independence of the DOJ and its prosecutorial decisions from presidential or political interference is one of the bedrocks of our democracy," he continued.

The op-ed published in the Times last week roiled the White House and prompted Trump to call for an investigation into the writer's identity. The Times described the author as "a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure."

In the op-ed, the official bashed the president's "amorality" and praised the work of "unsung heroes" who push back against him, describing coordinated efforts among Trump administration staff.

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