Is there really a “deep state” antipathy toward Donald Trump? At least one prominent Republican — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — says he has proof of it.
In an interview with CNN, Paul — who was part of the large GOP field competing with Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — said that he witnessed Trump order former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance stripped, an order that bureaucrats refused to obey.
Paul was asked about a recent article from The New York Times that said that while the president had specifically ordered Brennan’s clearance revoked in August, along with a declassification of certain documents, both efforts had been “hampered by aides who slow-rolled the president and by Justice Department officials who fought Mr. Trump, warning he was jeopardizing national security.”
Even though the president had ordered Brennan’s clearance revoked, “the White House never followed through with the complex bureaucratic work it would have taken to strip the clearance,” The Times reported in late May, citing a source person familiar with the process.
Appearing on CNN Tuesday, Paul said that this was the “deep state” trying to overrule the president of the United States.
“Now the deep state is actually protecting their own and not listening to the president’s orders,” Paul said.
“I was sitting in the White House when President Trump said, ‘I want his security clearance taken,’ and I saw the order given. I saw the chief of staff was there, not the current chief of staff, the previous chief of staff.”
“People talk about the deep state, now the deep state’s actually protecting their own,” says Sen. @RandPaul on ex-CIA Dir. John Brennan keeping his security clearance.
“I was sitting in the White House when President Trump said I want his security clearance taken.” pic.twitter.com/YcKRG26L1c
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 4, 2019
The Washington Examiner noted that he was talking about former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“If they are working against … the president, that really does disrupt our country, does disrupt a representative democracy where the president makes a decision,” Paul said. “If someone is countermanding that, I think we need to get to the bottom of that.”
Paul said that he hoped that Trump finds out who disobeyed the order.
It’s worth noting here that Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, left the White House after his relationship with Trump became increasingly fractious because Trump was tired of being told “no,” according to CBS News.
If you want to start the investigation somewhere, I can think of worse places than there.
Brennan, a frequent critic of Trump’s whose invective against the president on Twitter often drew headlines, was to have his clearance revoked for what the president called “erratic conduct and behavior,” according to Bloomberg.
Brennan responded to Trump’s order by tweeting more insults at the president.
“It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation,” he wrote.
He’d later appear on MSNBC and reiterate that Trump was “dangerous to our nation.”
So if Brennan was trying to prove Trump’s point, mission accomplished, I suppose. Yet Brennan still has his clearance, apparently.
Paul noted that Brennan was “a partisan” and “abused his office in developing the Trump investigation [on Russia]. I think it was done under false pretenses and done for political reasons.”
And from what Paul said, he thinks Brennan’s security clearance is still around because government employees deliberately refused to follow Trump’s orders, not just because “the White House never followed through with the complex bureaucratic work it would have taken to strip the clearance,” as The Times euphemistically phrased it.
In a commentary piece published by Fox News on Friday, Fox personality Tucker Carlson agreed:
“So, a year later, we learned that Brennan still has a security clearance. How did that happen? Because the executive branch officials simply ignored the president’s orders. This is a problem because he was elected by voters, and they were not. All legitimate power in the executive branch flows from him and the election that he won … So the truth is, the president of the United States was undermined by his own staff.
“He gave them a direct, unequivocal order. In their feline, passive-aggressive way, they refused to carry it out. How many times a day does that happen? Every time it does, our democracy erodes.
“And by the way, that’s fine with official Washington. If holding elections means that Donald Trump wins power, they’re against elections — whatever it takes, including brute force.”
Even if Brennan’s security clearance is eventually stripped, the process has been delayed by an unelected bureaucrat or bureaucrats who are overruling the lawful decision of an elected leader — the very definition of what’s become colloquially known as the “deep state.”
If you’re wondering why Trump supporters have so much distrust in the bureaucracy in Washington, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better object lesson.
The president ordered Brennan’s security clearance stripped, as is his right to do. A senator witnessed it. The White House chief of staff apparently witnessed it, too.
And yet, it wasn’t done.
This was hardly an accident. Brennan was one of the highest-profile men in the intelligence community. This wasn’t one of those things where the chief of staff would just forget.
It’s not something that someone who was told to execute the order would have forgotten, either.
This was deliberate.
If the president can’t even count on the people in his administration to carry an order like this out, the deep state is even more dangerous than we might have originally thought.
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