On Thursday, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley said former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told him that Department of Justice (DOJ) officials met to discuss whether or not to remove President Donald Trump from office in the wake of the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. This news confirmed conservatives’ worst fears about a Deep State working against the duly elected president.
Democrats have often dismissed notions of a Deep State, suggesting that criticisms of the DOJ and FBI, in particular, are an attack on American institutions. Multiple scandals have sparked serious concerns about an anti-Trump bias among the public servants in the DOJ, however.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page may have been engaging in playful banter about stopping Trump from getting elected, but their texts revealed far more — even a strategy of leaks to damage the president after the election. Americans should also remember that the FISA applications to spy on members of the Trump campaign referenced the uncorroborated and Democrat-funded Steele dossier.
On Thursday, Pelley said McCabe told him about an effort to oust President Trump.
“There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Pelley said. His interview with McCabe will air on Sunday.
.@ScottPelley on what McCabe told @60Minutes: "There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment." pic.twitter.com/iVAyrEV4MF
— Norah O'Donnell🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) February 14, 2019
This was far from the first piece of evidence that members of Trump’s own administration have been working against him. Last September, The New York Times published an op-ed revealing an anonymous “resistance” inside the administration.
The Deep State need not be this kind of explicit cabal, however. In fact, it is far more likely the result of bureaucrats working alone on shared ideas about the virtues of big government and the vices of conservative small-government reforms — which might cost them their jobs.
In the past 100 years, the United States transitioned from a limited government to an administrative state. First with Woodrow Wilson’s “War Socialism” and later with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” Congress created a set of administrative agencies that would practically make law and regulate American business and life.
This state apparatus is arguably contrary to the plain text of the Constitution, and the New Deal faced challenges from the Supreme Court, leading Roosevelt to threaten “court packing.”
The administrative state creates bloat and overregulation, but it also provides Congress with plausible deniability. Instead of passing laws to create specific regulations, Congress can pass a broad bill saying “There will be clean air,” and create an agency to handle this huge goal. When the agency angers Americans, people can complain to their member of Congress, who then blames the evil agency. In this way, Congress can avoid the blame for burdensome regulations.
The Progressive movement — supported by both Republicans and Democrats during the 1900s — considered the administrative state a scientific solution to governance. Rather than having representatives squabble about legislation, why not have trustworthy public servants make regulation based on scientific principles?
Progressivism was always somewhat utopian, assuming that members of the administrative state would act in the people’s interest and without political bias. Liberals trust the state to solve issues, while conservatives are skeptical of bureaucrats, who can have ulterior motives.
The premise of the Deep State is that members of the administrative state have their own interests and that they will naturally support a political party or candidates who want to expand the administrative state and oppose candidates who want to rein it in.
Donald Trump got elected in part due to his promise to “Drain the Swamp.” This promise involved cleaning house, getting rid of bureaucrats who use their positions in government to further their own political causes.
Conservatives well remember the IRS scandal, where the IRS slow-walked tax-exempt status applications for Tea Party groups. In October 2017, the IRS agreed to pay Tea Party groups $3.5 million. Yet the DOJ continued to defend IRS targeting into last year.
Last August, a judge ordered the IRS to hand over $839 million to six states because the agency had been forcing the states to pay for health care providers — in violation of the plain text of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
The Deep State efforts against Tea Party groups and against President Trump bolster the conservative view that government officials need a check on their power. In defending the Constitution, the authors of the Federalist Papers argued that checks on government power are necessary because men are not angels. The Constitution created a system of checks and balances to prevent this kind of Deep State corruption.
It may not be possible or desirable to fully dismantle the bureaucratic administrative state, but some reforms are possible. The REINS Act would require major administration rules to be passed by both houses of Congress, for example. President Trump deserves a great deal of credit for slashing regulations, although a great deal of work remains to be done. Members of his own administration oppose his reform efforts because many of them entered government work under previous presidents and have different ideas about how the country should be governed.
The Deep State is very real. It is not one massive conspiracy, but rather the work of isolated individuals who oppose Trump and his policies for their own reasons. Many of these people intend to do good, aiming to protect America from its president. Good intentions do not excuse this corruption, however.
Occasionally, the Deep State rears its ugly head in the efforts of administration officials working as the “resistance” or teaming up to oust Trump under the 25th Amendment. My sources in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have told me that EPA staff have worked deliberately against the president’s aims.
Democrats deny the Deep State partly because they are skeptical of conservative claims, but also partly because its very existence counts against their government-fueled utopian vision. Government is not all bad, but Progressives need to realize that men do not become angels when they join the administrative state.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.