Trump’s top trade adviser ‘hunting’ for anonymous op-ed author

CNNs John Berman pressed President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser Peter Navarro on claims that he believes deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates is the author of the book ‘Anonymous’ and the New York Times op-ed.

President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday he has been “hunting” for the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed and the book, “A Warning,” but avoided the question when pressed about who, specifically, he believes to be the author.

CNN reported Thursday that Navarro has been leading the charge inside the West Wing that now-departed National Security Council official Victoria Coates is the author, according to three people familiar with the situation.

“Ever since that op-ed came out, there’s been a pall cast over everybody in the administration, everybody’s a suspect. So within the administration, everybody’s hunting, as it were, for anonymous,” Navarro said Friday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Asked if that included him, Navarro said, “Of course, it’s a vocation with everybody.”

Navarro was pressed specifically on whether he believes Coates is the author, as the sources say he has been saying internally at the White House, but he wouldn’t say.

“Suspects are everywhere,” he said, going on to rail against reporting from “so-called senior administration officials.”

Once the unsubstantiated rumor that Coates was the author began circulating inside the West Wing, the book’s publishers denied it, but their denial did little to stop Navarro from continuing to insist it was her, two people said.

When asked what he’s been doing to find Anonymous, Navarro was mum: “You read the book. You read the op-ed. You think about it — that’s about it.”

For the last several weeks, Navarro has been on a hunt to determine who is Anonymous, two people said, a move that would likely ingratiate him with the President.

Navarro searching for Anonymous was first reported by the Daily Beast.

Several officials were initially amused by Navarro’s tactics, but then became concerned that it could affect Coates’ standing with the President, the same officials said.

Several officials who heard Navarro push this said they do not believe Coates is the author and several described her as loyal to the President’s agenda. However, the workplace became untenable given these dynamics, so Coates began looking for an exit, officials said, which led to her move to the Energy Department on Thursday.

Coates declined to comment when reached by CNN.

Asked Tuesday if there was a search for who “Anonymous” was, Trump said: “Yeah there is, it’s not so much a search, I know who it is. I can tell you that, but I know who it is.”

The national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, elevated Coates to deputy national security adviser when he took the job last fall.

A week ago he insisted she would not be moved out of the National Security Council, but within days it became apparent that was not a long-term option. He confirmed her move to the Department of Energy.

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