WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vented over White House leaks Monday as a new tell-all book commands attention, an anonymous writer detailing "resistance" in the administration remains at large and a former staffer reveals more private recordings of the commander in chief.
But while Trump continues to insist privately that he wants leakers punished — in particular, the author of an unsigned New York Times opinion piece — it remained unclear if his administration would mete out any discipline. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said no lie detectors were being used to smoke out the writer of the op-ed.
Sanders said it's up to the Justice Department to make that determination. "But someone actively trying to undermine the duly elected president and the entire executive branch of government, that seems quite problematic to me and something they should take a look at," she said.
A White House official has said Trump was just venting over the essay and wasn't ordering federal prosecutors to take action. It also doesn't appear that the essay revealed any classified information, which would be a crucial bar to clear before a leak investigation could be considered. The Justice Department said it will not confirm or deny investigations.
Meanwhile, at a White House press briefing, Sanders slammed the book "Fear," from veteran journalist Bob Woodward, as "careless and reckless."
Woodward staunchly defended his work, saying on NBC's "Today" show that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly "are not telling the truth" when they deny making disparaging remarks about Trump attributed to them.
"These are political statements to protect their jobs," Woodward said.
The op-ed and Woodward's book both depict a White House mired in dysfunction, with aides disparaging the Republican president and working to prevent him from making disastrous decisions.
It was not clear how aggressive White House efforts were to root out the op-ed writer, though a person close to the White House who was not authorized to speak publicly said officials had focused in on a few names.
Trump spent the weekend complaining about the book as well as the op-ed writer. He argued that the person purposely put the piece in the Times to anger him, and he has continued to focus on identifying and firing the author, even as some advisers have urged him to let the matter go, said a source familiar with the president's thinking.
On Twitter, Trump said he has been subjected to "Phony books, articles and T.V. 'hits' like no other pol has had to endure."
Trump tweeted that "the Woodward book is a Joke - just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can't stand losing. I'll write the real book!"
Woodward, who has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, said the book "is as carefully done as you can do an excavation of the reality of what goes on."
Amid the drama, former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman sought to seize some of the spotlight by releasing a recording she said was of Trump talking to junior aides during a communications meeting. Trump jumps from topic to topic, talking about the real "Russia story" involving his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton; the deadly Niger ambush on American soldiers; and economic gains.