One problem with the discourse of the “deep state” is the low ratio of facts to rhetoric. For example, Red State diarist GBenton calls the New York Times report on the origins of the FBI investigation of President Trump a CYA Story.
The Never Trumper’s reward is discovering, at long last, that you’ve been punked by a corrupt media, covering for a corrupt Deep State, under the direction of the previous administration and their presumptive heir, Hillary Clinton.
But GBenton affirms–or at least does not dispute–the central finding of the Times story: that the Trump investigation began with an FBI interview of the Australian ambassador about his conversations with Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page.
The only additional piece of factual information that GBenton provides in his piece is a letter from House Republicans demanding Department of Justice turn over material about possible abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Let’s leave aside the fact that Nunes has already released a classified memo on that subject, alleging the Trump investigation was tainted by bias because a FISA warrant for Page was based on the so-called Steele dossier. In accepting the facts of the Times story, GBenton has implicitly abandoned by the argument of the Nunes memo. The investigation of Page began before the Steele dossier was written.
Leave aside too, the farcical episode last April in which FISA material was leaked to the House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes who made a late night visit to the White House and emerged with allegations of abuse. When independent observers took a look they noted that the kind of “incidental collection” Nunes described “had nothing to do with direct surveillance of Trump, his associates, or Trump Tower.” Nunes soon dropped the claim.
The bigger problem with Red State’s claim is that the Justice Department is headed by Jeff Sessions, an ally of the president. Presumably, Sessions is not part of the “corrupt Deep State” that is allegedly out to stymie Trump. He doesn’t work at a secret agency. His budget is public information. He can be held accountable by Congress at any time.
GBenton’s implication is that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is part of the “Deep State.” But he too works at an agency whose work is not classified. It is true, that the investigations of the Justice Department are confidential, which is appropriate until such time as charges are pressed or dropped. If charges are brought, DOJ has to defend them in open court, not exactly a deep state venue. If charges are dropped, prosecutors have to explain why to their superiors, including Sessions. Meanwhile, Rosenstein can be called before Congress–and has been.
The idea of a “deep state” posits actors working outside the view of democratic institutions. That does not apply to Sessions or Rosenstein.
What in Rosenstein’s behavior puts him into the “corrupt deep state” cabal, according to GBenton? He cites no comment from other observers. Indeed, he has done no original reporting.
The allegation of FISA court abuses is the one area where Red State’s “deep state” rhetoric bears some resemblance to reality. The workings of the FISA courts are secret and the Congress and the public have limited mean to check possible abuses. To establish accountability the House Intelligence Committee could hold hearings to educate the public about the working of secretive government agencies. Rep. Nunes has chosen not to do that.
The claim that a “deep state” is at work here is, at best, unsupported. In Red State discourse, the “deep state” seems to be a term of abuse for publicly accountable civil servants whose actions President Trump does not care for.