Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him

Mr. Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, made clear to House investigators this week that he sought to resist the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political help, which he saw as “crazy” and “improper.” Even as Mr. Trump pushed to have Ukraine’s president go on CNN to publicly pledge to investigate Democrats, Mr. Taylor testified that he quietly advised Ukrainian officials not to do so for fear of getting involved in American domestic politics.

“As we are seeing pure-form Trumpism take over foreign policy, it is bumping up against the reality of professionalism,” said Derek Chollet, a former Obama administration official. “Even if there are people who may agree with the policy of the Trump administration, the way the administration and this president goes about doing business is unprofessional, unethical, perhaps illegal. And whatever your policy views, that cuts against what these folks have joined government to do.”

Mr. Trump first embraced the phrase “deep state” in June 2017 when he retweeted a post from Sean Hannity of Fox News and then used it himself for the first time on Twitter in November of that year, according to Bill Frischling of, a service that analyzes data on Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Trump began using the term in speeches and media appearances in August 2018 at a Republican dinner in October, but he has turned to it increasingly as time has passed. He has referred to a deep state 23 times so far this year, twice as often as last year.

At the Young Black Leadership Summit this month, he railed against Democrats and “their deep-state cronies” who are “colluding in their effort to overturn the presidential election.” He brought up the “deep state, whatever you want to call them” again during a trade-pact signing ceremony. At a Louisiana rally, he denounced “the unholy alliance” of Democrats, the media and “deep state bureaucrats.”

In an interview with his former aide Sebastian Gorka, conducted before the impeachment conflict but published in The Daily Caller this month, Mr. Trump described his war with the deep state as fundamental to his presidency.

“If it all works out, I will consider it one of the greatest things I’ve done,” Mr. Trump said. “I think with the destruction of the deep state, certainly I’ve done big damage,” he added. “They’ve come after me in so many different ways; it’s been such a disgrace. But I think it’ll be one of my great achievements.”

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