Projection is one of first things we often think of when labeling the rhetoric patterns of former “President” Donald Trump. One of his primary response mechanisms to accusations is to reflect those accusations back on the accuser. It was a primary feature of his campaign, most notably starting when Hillary Clinton said that he would be a Puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, leading to the following notorious exchange:
“That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as President of the United States” -Hillary Clinton
“No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet” -Donald Trump
This type of projection would be the hallmark response to every accusation the Trump administration would make. Conspiring with Ukrainian elements against Joe Biden by claiming Joe Biden and his son were conspiring in Ukraine. Accusing the Mueller Investigation of being a “witch hunt” while engaging in witch hunts against special counsel supporters and whistleblowers. Accusing Jo Biden of stealing an election he obviously tried (and just barely failed) to steal.
So when Trump returns to the Deep State rhetoric while simultaneously forming a post-Presidential cabinet at MaraLago, it’s pretty blatant what is happening. Trump has rallied, and continues to rally, his most fervent supporters around a new narrative, while using “deep” operatives in and around government to enforce his will. And while he has recently pivoted back to his “Deep State” accusations as a counter to escalating legal threats, he is developing a real deep state to counter these threats and potential prepare for a 2024 comeback. Let’s look at 10 clear examples of Trump developing this new Deep State, both before and after the election.
1. Trump sent Rudy Giuliani into both the State Department and the Department of Justice to rally “discrete” support.
Beginning with investigations into improper coordination and communication with FBI agents during the 2016 elections, Giuliani quickly proved himself to be capable of recruiting loyalists from within agency to work “shadow” policy to benefit Donald Trump. When Inspector General Michael Horowitz closed an investigation into FBI leaks of inside information to Giuliani, he was explicit in that the report didn’t exonerate Rudy Giuliani, but rather claimed “substantial media contacts” with FBI employees during the election, but no direct evidence to determine “whether these media contacts resulted in the disclosure of nonpublic information”. Later, reports would indicate that Rudy Giuliani went to both the Department of Justice and the State Department to disseminate propaganda and gain support for some of the conspiracy narratives that he conspired with then-President Trump to help Trump in the 2020 elections. The attempts were later rejected by US Attorney General William Barr, but only after the efforts were made public by media sources. Barr sought to distance himself from Giuliani, claiming that “The DOJ has the obligation to have an open door to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant” as an excuse for Giuliani’s attempts to coordinate with him on this Ukraine narrative in attempts to steal the election for Donald Trump by releasing conspiracy-based investigative sound-bites to implicate Joe Biden’s son in a criminal conspiracy. On the point of projection, conspiring with a foreign nation against your political opponent by claiming his family was part of a conspiracy in the Ukraine is arguably one of the most egregious and unpunished examples of treason against the United States of America in the history of our country.
2. While the Insurrection raged at the Capitol on January 6th, Republicans attempted a coup in the chambers of congress by refusing to certify a duly elected President through objection.
While their ability to “decertify” an election in the United States is in question, the effort was one of the various efforts used to steal the 2020 election, the intention being to push the outcome into the hands of the US Supreme Court as opposed to the will of the electorate as evidenced by the administrations attempts to put various questions and subjects in front of SCOTUS as an opportunity to skew the election using the Republican parties newly appointed majority in the Judicial branch. On January 6th, 2021, and just moments before the Capitol was breached by insurrectionists, 147 Republicans voted an objection to certifying the election for Biden. This is more than 2/3rds of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. The only thing blocking this effort turned out to be the timing of the insurrection that flared just outside the Halls of Congress at that same moment. By storming the capitol building, the insurrectionists forced these Republicans to immediately cease this course and certify the election later that same day. So if the House wasn’t facing calls of Treason and Sedition almost immediately after the insurrection breached the counsel, it’s not hard to conceive that history may have favored Donald Trump if the scenario had played out.
3. Trump tried to exert influence over countless election officials, some of which successfully illegally coordinated to push his ‘Big Lie’
We may never know exactly how many election officials Trump attempted to exert influence over on behalf of his election efforts, but we do know that he tried, and was caught, in multiple illegal efforts to coerce election officials to work on his behalf. What we do know is that he tried, and was subsequently caught in at least 5 attempts, with various officials. There is little question that a President looking to exert influence to pressure election officials into illegal activity on his behalf is very, very, very illegal. While the lack of accountability for these actions is frustrating, there are multiple investigations that are still ongoing into some of these efforts. Calling the Georgia Secretary of State and asking him to “find” another 11k votes, calling the governor of Georgia to exert pressure, Calling the Governor of Arizona in attempts to prevent him from certifying the election in his state of Arizona, and the recent scandal detailing his attempts to pressure Atlanta US attorney Byung “BJay” Pak in efforts to overturn the election, leading to his forced resignation when he would not comply. All of these efforts are highly illegal, and should have been immediately denounced by both parties. That the GOP supported Donald Trump’s efforts to illegally overturn an election is clear evidence that Trump’s Deep State efforts have been wildly successful within his own party. And for every improper influence effort that Trump got caught engaging in, how many efforts are still undiscovered or unreported today?
-Donald Trump phone call pressuring Georgia Secretary of State
4. Trump’s formation of a literal “Shadow Cabinet”
On July 30th, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows announced that he had been meeting with Trump and others, forming a new (in his words) “Cabinet” working on “real plans”. While a post-presidential “Shadow Cabinet” is already a clear example of a deep state effort, it’s important to define what it is they are describing here. Are they discussing “real plans” for re-election, or for post-presidential lobbying? Fortunately, this is Trump we are talking about, so we don’t have to guess what their intent is – To use any means at their disposal to discredit current President Joe Biden in efforts to gain power, just as they did in 2015 and 2016 where they discredited then-President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a method to consolidate power among his base. We know this, because Trump’s new ‘cabinet’ has already started engaging in these actions, reportedly claiming a path to reclaim the presidency in August (yesterday as of this writing, and so far, unsuccessful). Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is issuing new warnings of right-wing violence, while large alt-right and conservative groups plan new marches at the capitol. None of this is in question, and the ongoing coup attempts by former “President” Trump’s are happening in the public domain, and will continue to happen while the DOJ refuses to investigate and prosecute these behaviors.
5. Trump had literal deep state elements in the Department of Justice working to invalidate the Election
On December 27th 2020, Trump called a meeting of senior Justice Department officials directing them to declare the election corrupt. On the call, then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen pushed back with what sounds more like a request for clarification than a response to a clearly illegal request. Trump claimed “Republican Congress” would take care of the rest if Justice officials simply claimed the election corrupt or compromised in key states. While these Justice department officials did not end up complying with this request, they also did not report this infraction and hold the President accountable for pressuring the DOJ to intercede in the election on his behalf. This lack of disclosure in itself is a betrayal of their responsibilities in Justice, and also gives us a clear picture of the specific places where Trump attempted to interfere, as he directed them to claim “rampant voter fraud” in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania. We know about his efforts in Georgia and Arizona, but do we know about the extent of his efforts and who he contacted in Nevada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania? It is unclear whether the justice department is seeking answers to that question, or investigating these actions that were brought to the attention during recent congressional investigations.
So what would have happened if Trump haden’t failed on all counts? What if his efforts to extort Ukraine into supporting his conspiracy narrative had been successful? How many people did Giuliani recruit within the State Department and Justice that we don’t know about, or have yet to find out about? Does Trump’s claim that the “R Congress” would find a way to turn the DOJ claims into a way to sway the election indicate a conspiracy between Trump and Republican Congress to overturn a free election constitute treason and actionable offense? The answer is yes. Absolutely. There can be no doubt, and the reason there can be no doubt is because Trump was caught multiple times doing everything he could to overturn the results of a democratic election to stay in power. It’s only due to his ineptitude and arrogance that he failed. So now the question we should all be asking ourselves for the coming years isn’t whether or not Trump is forming a “deep state”. He already has, and to think that he isn’t working illegally behind the scenes to regain power would be ignoring the fact that he has been caught many times doing exactly that.
When Trump claims there is a “Deep State”, he is right. And he would know better than anyone.