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Email ‘threatening' Woodward leaked

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Bob Woodward claimed the White House threatened him about his coverage on the budget cuts, but the White House has pushed back. (Source: CNN) Bob Woodward claimed the White House threatened him about his coverage on the budget cuts, but the White House has pushed back. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – The White House responded to veteran journalist Bob Woodward who said Wednesday he was threatened by a senior Obama administration official following his reporting on the White House's handling of the forced federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday.

Officials said the email, which was sent by Gene Sperling, an economic adviser to President Barack Obama, was more benign than how Woodward interpreted.

The email has been obtained by Politico, who has reprinted the email in its entirety, begins and ends with an apology by Sperling for raising his voice at Woodward. Sperling goes on to say he and Woodward will not see "eye-to-eye" on some issues.

Woodward claimed on CNN's The Situation Room that the email says he'll "regret" reporting on some facts from on sequestration, which he viewed as a threat.

However, the portion of the email reads:

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that POTUS asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand bargain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start.

Politico also published Woodward's response, saying that Sperling's apology was not needed and welcomes the personal advice.

However, Woodward writes he has spoken to everyone involved and insinuates he has more insight into the situation.

Woodward penned a 2012 book reporting that the idea for the spending cuts, known as sequestration, originated with the White House. It's a claim Obama originally denied, but the White House has since acknowledged.

But it was language that he used in an op-ed published over the weekend in The Washington Post that drew what he said was the Obama administration response.

"[W]hen the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts," Woodward wrote. "His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made."

Headlined Obama's sequester deal-changer, it was widely cited by Republicans seeking to avert the across-the-board cuts without a tax increase.

Woodward said on CNN that the White House objection to his reporting has no basis in facts.

"It's irrefutable. That's exactly what happened," he said. "I'm not saying this is a moving of the goal posts that was a criminal act or something like that. I'm just saying that's what happened."

CNN extended multiple invitations to the White House to appear on the The Situation Room, including after Woodward began his interview, but the invitations were not accepted.

Copyright 2013 CNN and Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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