To defenders of the vast unelected bureaucracy that has more staying power in Washington D.C. than any president which has been dubbed “The Deep State” by many, including former President Donald J. Trump, who has endured its full fury, the term is dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theory but even one of the most venerated figures of the establishment admits that it exists.
Former two-time attorney general William Barr who served under Trump as well as President George H.W. Bush acknowledged that there is indeed a Deep State, a confirmation that those who are able to see that there is an extra-political force that steers events aren’t merely the tinfoil hatters that the media portrays them as.
“I am critical of the Deep State and believe it exists,” Barr said during an interview with with PBS host Margaret Hoover on “The Firing Line,” that aired this week during which he discussed a wide range of topics including his former bosses Bush and Trump.
“So given that you’ve worked with career professionals, you have had a long career of interfacing with civil servants who have made their life in the government, I think you’re actually particularly well-suited to comment about the state of the Deep State—whether it exists, how it exists, what it looks like—to put some nuance and some texture around it for me,” Hoover said after Barr recalled his time spent under Bush and how the former president and CIA boss interreacted with career government employees.
Barr responded, “Well, I think the people who attack the Deep State – and I am critical of the Deep State and believe it exists – but there’s also some of the rhetoric and some of the positioning…”
Hoover then asked, “So how do you define it?”
“The way I would define the deep state is an increased willingness by more and more government civil servants to pursue political objectives, rather than stand up for the values of the institution they’re a part of. They are not neutral. They’re not politically neutral,” Barr replied. “But on the other side of the ledger, okay, is that I think there’s an exaggeration of its pervasiveness. It’s bad. It does pervert government.”
“But I still think the vast majority of civil servants try to do an honest job and try to check their politics at the door. And I think that President Bush’s quote that you played is right on the money,” he added. “The most important thing is leadership. When you provide clear guidance and goals people will– the institution will deliver for you. You can move the institution. And I think people who come in to run the government, who try to govern, who treat government employees as pariahs, are not doing their job,” a thinly veiled shot at Trump.
Barr’s remarks make him the highest profile mainstream figure yet to admit that there is a Deep State and that it is filled with those who abuse their positions to pursue a political agenda.
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