deep state: How a Conspiracy Theory Went From Political Fringe to Mainstream
For Trump's supporters, the president's most formidable enemies are not to be found among Democrats in the halls of Congress but among members of the national security establishment whose loyalty to the president ought to be unquestioned. They have branded this enemy the "deep state."
One of Trump's earliest and most aggressive champions, the far-right Breitbart website, has accused the deep state of leaking information about Trump to The New York Times and The Washington Post; Donald Trump Jr. has described the deep state as "real, illegal and a threat to national security," while the president himself retweeted a monologue by Fox News host Sean Hannity calling for action against deep state saboteurs of the administration's agenda.
Trump swept to power in November pledging to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., and his relationship with America's federal bureaucracy has been fractious. Especially difficult has been his relationship with intelligence agencies, which claim Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a bid to help secure Trump's election. The president has in turn blamed a drip feed of damaging leaks on intelligence agencies.
"It is not just the context of Russia," Paul Musgrave, professor of government at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told Newsweek. "It is President Trump insulting or targeting intelligence agencies in the period up to the inauguration. And this was perceived to be something that could really spark a backlash from members of American intelligence agencies."