Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo deny writing explosive op-ed attacking Trump

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption The 25th Amendment Could it be used to unseat Trump

Melania Trump, often quiet when it comes to controversial political topics, spoke out about the recent op-ed by an anonymous Trump White House official published by The New York Times.

Pompeo said it "shouldn't surprise anyone" that the New York Times chose to print "such a piece" and if the piece actually was written by a top U.S. official the outlet "should not have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor's word for anything".

Former CIA Director John Brennan, a fierce Trump critic, called the op-ed "active insubordination. born out of loyalty to the country".

Trump lambasted The Times and the op-ed's author, whom he described as someone "who's failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons", during a speech at the White House on Wednesday.

Yes, the tone was prickly enough to make a cactus jealous ― and yes, it basically urged people to harass the New York Times opinion desk.

Cabinet-level officials - who said they were not directed by the White House to release statements refuting the op-ed - came out one by one, some via spokespersons, with criticism of the opinion piece and their own form of denial.

Current and former members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet are pictured in this Oval Office photo taken on March 13, 2017.

A senior official told Vanity Fair that Trump "hates" the leaks and was particularly upset about reports that Cohn intentionally "stole a letter off Trump's desk" that would have removed the US from the Korea Free Trade Agreement. "Our office is above such amateur acts", Mr Pence's spokesman Jarrod Agen said on Twitter.

"It was not his op-ed", Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

Trump wrote, "Does the so-called "Senior Administration Official" really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?"

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The Times opinion section said the piece was written by a senior official in the administration and that it was taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous article because disclosing the author's identity would jeopardise the person's job.

As one leaker told Axios: "I usually pay attention to other staffers' idioms and use that in my background quotes".

The claims - revealed in excerpts in the Washington Post from the book which is due to be released on September 11 - have been strongly denied by Mr Mattis, the United States president and the White House.

At the same time, I can't say whether we would have done it or not, so I don't want to sound churlish.

How has the White House responded?

The column has set off a wild guessing game on the author's identity.

Even the Washington Post, no defender of the president, called the op-ed old news, and a "PR stunt".

They claimed that early on in the presidency there was talk of trying to remove the president by invoking the 25th Amendment, but that this was dismissed as potentially triggering a constitutional crisis.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also dismissed Woodward's book, saying, "I haven't read a lot of his books". It's like there's a sign that says 'In case of emergency, break glass, ' but these guys are like, 'I mean we could break the glass, but then there'd be glass everywhere.

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