Vice President Mike Pence was an early suspect to be the writer of a bombshell New York Times op-ed from an anonymous senior administration official denouncing the president as incompetent and amoral, but he quickly worked to quash this speculation.
Sources told the Daily Beast that the president "exploded" on Wednesday after reading the op-ed.
On Wednesday, shortly after the op-ed was published, Trump lashed out at its author, calling the piece "gutless" and demanding that the Times turn over the writer "for National Security purposes". Many have privately shared some of the article's same concerns about Mr Trump with colleagues, friends and reporters.
"It could motivate Trump to pursue the [Turkish president Recep Tayyip] Erdogan-style purge of the bureaucracy that he hasn't pursued yet", a Justice Department trial attorney told the Beast.
"I see no basis for any legitimate referral for an investigation by DoJ", said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor".
Trump's call is the latest test of the department's independence.
The column painted a portrait of an administration mired in chaos and confusion - charges that Trump said were the opposite of the truth.
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Republicans have declined to seek those papers, and instead have gathered documents from his work as White House counsel to Bush. The 76-year-old has been one of the Supreme Court nominee's champions, working to guide his nomination through the Senate.
"It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room, " the author continued. We fully recognize what is happening.
-Associated Press writer Zeke Miller.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders branded the piece "pathetic, reckless, and selfish" and condemned the Times for publishing it.
"Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people", the op-ed reads.
A spokesman for Pence criticised the Times and said the vice president does not write anonymous opinion columns.
"I think if we are going to meet, it has to be fair meeting", Trump said.
It is sad more than anything else that the USA has come to where you have again. if it is what it's purported to be, it is sad that you have someone who would make that choice, he said.
"Nobody knows who the hell he is, or she, although they put he, but probably that's a little disguised".