Asignificant portion of Our National Discourse has been reduced to braindead regurgitation of scarcely laundered InfoWars conspiracy theories. The hottest ticket in town in that regard is the idea there is a Deep State at the highest levels of the federal government that has been conspiring against Donald Trump since he declared his candidacy. Somehow, millions of Americans—and, apparently, more than one sitting member of Congress—believe these dark and powerful forces completely failed in this mission and Trump became president anyway, because Winning.
The whole thing slides into farce when you learn that the Russia probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also supposedly part of that Deep State plot. This probe began before the election, when the FBI encountered evidence in summer 2016 of contacts between Trump associates and Russian figures. In this formulation, ruthless spies and backstabbing bureaucrats knew Trump’s campaign had connections to a hostile foreign power, and yet, though they were determined to stop his campaign at all costs, they made none of it public before Election Day. Instead, FBI Director James Comey made a (possibly decisive) campaign issue out of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
This was a topic of discussion in congressional hearings today, as a popular Deep State boogeyman on the right, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, testified before multiple House committees. Strzok investigated Clinton’s emails before he moved over to the Russia probe and eventually joined Mueller’s team. He was dismissed after Mueller learned he was having an affair with an FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, and had sent texts to her disparaging Trump. This was a sign that “Lover Boy”—in Trumpian tweetspeak—was hopelessly biased against our president, according to his defenders.
As Strzok explained today, one text of particular interest to Trumpists didn’t exactly come out of nowhere:
Strzok: My Anti-Trump Text Was Based On His ‘Horrible, Disgusting’ Treatment Of Gold Star Family pic.twitter.com/BK8slU9tMl
Ah, you don’t support a presidential candidate trashing the family of a guy who died serving in the United States armed forces? Surely you can’t play a role in any investigation into that candidate.
But the real haymaker was Strzok’s reminder that he had a ton of dirt on Trump before Election Day—potentially decisive dirt—and didn’t call a single reporter or tweet a single bit out. We didn’t see it on Wikileaks. We didn’t hear about any of it. Strzok’s grandstanding about how bias would never infect an FBI investigation doesn’t hold water, but the simple fact is that the agency had an opportunity to fire a cannonball at the U.S.S. Trump, but chose Clinton instead. That points to the bias in the FBI’s New York field office, which likely fed into Comey’s decision to go public with the Clinton probe details.
Can we see those agents’ texts? Where are the hearings?
Ultimately, the Deep State theory relies on poor critical thinking skills and the very human desire to be reinforced in your convictions. In that sense, it is perfect for Donald Trump, American president. But at the root of things, there’s a simpler question: If this is all a hoax, why do Trump associates keep pleading guilty to lying to federal law enforcement about their contacts with Russians?