What was once dismissed by President Donald Trump’s critics as a conspiracy theory is now front and center after an anonymous senior official published an op-ed in the New York Times, admitting being a “part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” — that there is a “deep state” working to undermine the president from within.
“Many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office,” the official wrote.
The op-ed prompted pronouncements from pundits across the political sphere of a “soft coup” and a “deep state.”
“We’re Watching an Antidemocratic Coup Unfold,” declared a headline of an article by David A. Graham in the Atlantic. “Say what you will about the wisdom of voters, but it is the bedrock of the nation, and Trump is the duly elected president, as Sanders says. Cabinet members are at least confirmed by the Senate, but they’re still unelected,” he wrote.
“The notion that the bureaucratic class in Washington should dictate which policies presidents are allowed to advocate simply by ignoring their wishes sounds a lot more like a soft coup than a constitutionally principled resistance,” wrote The Federalist’s David Harsanyi.
The anonymous author of the Times op-ed did not explicitly call for a “coup,” nor did the article imply the anonymous official would actually do anything, other than continue to work for the president.
But some saw the piece as a message to voters, coming less than 60 days before a midterm election where Democrats threaten to take the House and will likely try to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.
“Whoever wrote this op-ed was well-aware of the timing,” a former White House official who wished to speak on background told Breitbart News. “The person who wrote this had to know that this op-ed was going to be used against Republicans running for election in 2018, and it seems like their ultimate goal is to ensure Democrats take the House so they can impeach President Trump.”
Some pundits expressed surprise that resistance to the president was coming from political appointees within his own Party. However, to those who were in the White House early, this was never a secret.
“The Republican establishment is just as part of the Deep State as the Democrat establishment is,” the former official said.
Asked how they got into the administration, the former official responded, “One of the problems of becoming president from outside of the establishment is that there wasn’t a ready-made group of people to come into the government for him. … He honestly didn’t know a lot of people in Washington, DC. So he had to rely on people like Reince [Priebus], on people like Dina Powell, on people like Gary Cohn to staff the government. He almost had no choice.”
The op-ed, purportedly written by a Republican appointee, indicated there are other like-minded cohorts in the administration who want a return to Republican orthodoxy, particularly on foreign policy.
Trump has frightened the foreign policy establishment, which consists of both Republicans and Democrats who subscribe to a neoconservative or liberal interventionist consensus. Trump, who has wanted to end costly foreign engagements and renegotiate trade pacts with allies, represents neither.
As Never Trump conservative Erick Erickson wrote of the “deep state” on Thursday, “These are Trump appointed staffers from the Republican Establishment he beat.”
Erickson also wrote:
See, the conclusion you should be drawing is not that there is a leftwing deep state out to sabotage the President and uphold Barack Obama, but there is a Republican establishment that views Trump as temporary. They believe they’ll be back in charge once he is gone. The do not recognize this as Trump’s Republican Party. They’re just pretending to recognize it as such before they jump in the shower and cleanse the White House stench off them.
The deep state is hoping that point will come sooner rather than later, to the point where they are trying to throw the midterms to Democrats, the former White House official said.
“I think the end goal is to destabilize the administration, cause chaos that leads to the Democrats retaking Congress in November, and then, eventually, all roads lead to impeachment,” the former staffer said.
A recent poll showed that impeachment proceedings are a real possibility if Democrats gain control of the House.
While the general public is about evenly divided over impeachment, three-quarters of Democrats want Congress to impeach Trump, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a potential 2020 Democrat presidential candidate, bucked party officials trying to squelch talk of impeachment, and on Thursday, urged Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president.
“If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment,” she told CNN. “Every one of these officials have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It’s time for them to do their job.”
If Democrats do take the House and move to impeach Trump, the issue would fall to the Senate. Republicans have the majority and are expected to gain seats, but some who disagree with his policies — particularly on trade — could feel emboldened to turn against him or try to force him to abandon his “America First” agenda, which could cost him support from his base in 2020.
“This is emblematic having a majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate who openly support President Trump because they have to, right now, to get elected and re-elected and get through the Republican primaries. But the second they no longer feel like their political careers would be in jeopardy for opposing Trump, you’ll start seeing more and more begin posing [impeachment],” the former White House official said.